In the wake of their four-year postseason ban and $73 million in fines, the Penn State Nittany Lions are looking to upgrade their future football schedules.
Several options have been considered by Penn State acting athletic director Dave Joyner and head coach Bill O’Brien. Chief among those is scheduling home-and-home series or neutral site games against high profile teams.
Penn State has also considered playing a 13th game in Hawaii and is in discussions with Wisconsin to make their annual match-up a trophy game.
To generate more revenue, Penn State will seek high-profile non-conference opponents for “single games, home-and-home series and neutral-site games,” the Pocono Record reports. Dave Joyner said he has already had discussions with several schools but declined to identify them.
Scheduling tougher BCS opponents to play at Beaver Stadium and/or neutral sites should help the Nittany Lions reach that goal. It will also help them save on payments to lower level teams for non-conference games, which often ranges from a few hundred thousand dollars up to around $1 million.
Penn State’s schedules in 2013 and 2014 are currently full, but a game or two could be canceled if necessary. In 2013, the Nittany Lions are scheduled to play Syracuse at MetLife Stadium and host Eastern Michigan, Kent State, and Virginia. The 2014 season includes home games against Temple, Akron, and UMass and a game at Rutgers.
Hawaii as a 13th Game
On Wednesday, Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien said that he wanted to play at Hawaii to “act as our bowl game at the end of the year.” Under the Hawaii Exemption, teams that play at Hawaii are allowed to schedule a 13th game.
But there are some issues with teams on probation adding Hawaii as a 13th game. USC was barred from playing a 13th game in 2010 and 2011 as a result of NCAA sanctions. The Trojans were eventually allowed to play at Hawaii in 2010 because the game had been on the books for over five years.
A 13th game was not specifically mentioned in the consent decree that Penn State agreed to on Monday. But a spokesperson for the University of Hawaii told the Pocono Record that “teams under NCAA sanctions cannot take advantage of the exemption.”
“We will have to look into that,” Joyner said. “Within the [12-game] regular-season structure, we could do anything we want.”
Trophy Game with Wisconsin
Penn State and Wisconsin are set to meet in both schools’ regular-season finale for the next five seasons. The two are in discussions to award the winner of the game a trophy, CentreDaily.com reports.
“Our marketing guys are working with theirs,” Joyner said Friday. “We are going to have a trophy for the Wisconsin game. Don’t know what it is. We have our own inside names. We will figure out what we want to call it.”
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema supports the idea. “I’d still go ahead with it 100 percent,” Bielema said. “It’s the story and the history of who they are and what they are, is what I was trying to focus on. … I wanted to give us something at the end of the year. Obviously, there’s the Ohio State-Michigan thing. I wanted us to have something that has a little bit of value.”
Both teams currently play two trophy games. Penn State battles Michigan State for the Land Grant Trophy and Minnesota for the Governor’s Victory Bell. Wisconsin plays Iowa for the Heartland Trophy and Minnesota for Paul Bunyan’s Axe.