Penn State Football: Trophy Game with Wisconsin is on the Horizon
Penn State might have something to play for in its season finale after all.
Dave Joyner, the school’s acting athletic director, said last week that he is engaged in talks with Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez about creating a trophy for the end-of-season division game as early as this season. The two are each other’s final regular season opponent through 2016, the latest year conference schedules are finalized.
“Don’t know what it is yet,” Joyner said. “We have mock names, but we’ll figure out what to call it. We are similar backgrounds, blue-collar football schools. There’s a lot of commonality with where Wisconsin comes from and where we come from.”
The idea for the trophy was hatched before the NCAA leveled Penn State with unprecedented sanctions, including a four-year postseason ban and the loss of 40 scholarships over four seasons.
It’s one way to reward players who must accept the fact Penn State won’t have any chance to compete for a conference or national title until 2016 at the earliest. The sanctions have also put an onus on Joyner to schedule quality nonconference opponents — at the end of the year, if possible — to act as a de-facto bowl game.
Coach Bill O’Brien had said he was in favor of scheduling marquee nonconference games against major BCS opponents, including ones at neutral sites. But those games are currently absent from the upcoming schedules.
Penn State opens the 2013 season against Syracuse at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. It also faces Virginia, Kent State and Eastern Michigan next year. In 2014, the Nittany Lions are scheduled to face Temple, Akron, Rutgers and Massachusetts.
A home-and-home series against Pitt is scheduled for 2016-17, but that does not fall in the sanction period. Joyner said he’s been in talks with several big-time programs but declined to name names.
“If I was them I would wanna play us more because the attention to the game, the media attention around these games,” Joyner said.