|Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL|
|Texas A&M fans looking for a jersey bearing Johnny Manziel's old No. 2 might be out of luck this year.|
If you've stopped by a store selling college football apparel, you probably have noticed a jersey with the same number on it as the one worn by the nearby football team's biggest star that season.
The NCAA might have you believe it's a coincidence since the jersey doesn't have a student-athlete's name on the back, but most people know otherwise. After all, it's probably not a surprise that you've been able to buy a No. 2 Texas A&M jersey (Johnny Manziel), a No. 5 Ohio State shirt (Braxton Miller) or a No. 9 USC replica jersey (Marqise Lee), among others.
Well, that might be changing in the near future, as Texas A&M, Arizona and Northwestern will only offer more generic jerseys for sale this season, according to an ESPN report.
"We've been thinking about doing this for a while," Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne said, per the report.
While that might be the case for the Wildcats, the looming Ed O'Bannon student-athlete likeness trial -- which starts June 9 -- likely played a major role in some schools deciding they didn't want to sell items more closely linked with their star players.
The No. 12 jersey will be the only one Texas A&M makes available at retail stores this year, according to the report, an homage to the popular 12th Man tradition at the school. Arizona will only sell No. 14 in a nod to the 2014 season while Northwestern will only sell head coach Pat Fitzgerald's old number (51).
The merchandising moves may or may not help those schools in their upcoming legal battles, but it's unlikely to help the bottom line when it comes to royalties. ESPN reported a school makes between $3 and $4 per jersey and that one licensing director at a major school said they could see as much as a 25 percent decrease in sales as a result of a more generic jersey on the market.
Given that just three of the 125 FBS programs are making the move to more generic jersey numbers on merchandise, one can't exactly call it a trend at this point. Depending on the outcome of the O'Bannon case and what impact it has on NCAA schools, however, the change is definitely something to keep an eye on as the legal process unfolds.
So, take note fans -- if you want a jersey of your favorite college football player, you might have to pony up a few extra dollars for the personalized option in the coming years.
Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.