First, the rumor was that Penn State would ease up on this year’s football schedule, possibly replacing Virginia with an overmatched opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision.
It turns out that the Nittany Lions actually may have made things tougher.
The Knights were 10-4 in 2012 and won their bowl game over Ball State. Virginia was 4-8 last season after an early one-point victory over the Nittany Lions.
Now, on to the potential motivating factors for the move .¤.¤.
Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien is long-time friends with UCF coach George O’Leary. O’Brien coached under O’Leary at Georgia Tech from 1995-2001.
O’Brien also was set to be O’Leary’s offensive coordinator at Notre Dame before a resume snafu quickly cost O’Leary the head job of the Fighting Irish.
Another factor for the schedule switch may be to add a “destination” game during the NCAA sanctions, which include a four-year bowl ban for the Lions.
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Penn State would play the Knights in Orlando on Sept. 20, 2014.
But Florida in September?
In a sense, it doesn’t seem like much of a reward for players and possibly even fans. Orlando’s average high temperature in September is 90 degrees. And it’s still very humid.
Plus, during a typical regular-season road trip, players usually do not arrive together at the team hotel until at least 5 p.m. the day before the game. They also typically board a charter flight home an hour or so after the game.
It’s difficult to imagine O’Brien tweaking his routine and practice schedule much during the middle of the season to make room for amusement park trips or beach days.
However, there could be one potential way to work around the weather obstacle.
Penn State has two open dates in 2014. They also still have one non-conference game to add. And everyone in the Big Ten must account for the additions of Maryland and Rutgers.
If the league section of the schedule is blown up to account for the new additions, Penn State officials could possibly try to work a trip to Central Florida in November, switching one of its bye weeks to earlier in the season.
If not, it appears that Penn State and its fans will be traveling to sticky Orlando in the middle of September next year.
(The Lions, though, will have to move a home game vs. Massachusetts on Sept. 20, 2014 to make the UCF game possible; UCF can’t play on Sept. 13 because of road game at Missouri).
No matter, going to Orlando would provide a different feel to the typical Penn State schedule.
It’s just that it won’t compare to the potential rumored “destination” games in Ireland to start a season or in Hawaii to end one.