It sounds interesting enough that Penn State and Virginia and Penn State would suddenly cut ties to the game in Beaver Stadium this fall.
And that Central Florida is not only the replacement but also the return-game destination in Orlando next year.
But what does this all mean beyond the simple shuffling of opponents?
There’s been so many back-and-forth rumors with this Penn State home game for Sept. 14 ever since last season ended.
At first, it centered around the Nittany Lions “dumbing down” of their schedule strength to account for the strict NCAA sanctions and loss of scholarships. They wanted to replace the Cavaliers with a Football Championship Subdivision team.
Then that fell through. Because Virginia balked?
Then the game was back on only to have it officially canceled. Did Virginia truly instigate the move this time, as a Penn State press release stated?
Or could it have truly been more of a joint agreement?
Maybe the Cavaliers were looking around and suddenly were able to convince the Oregon Ducks to agree to a home-and-home. Virginia had to approach Penn State to ask permission to re-schedule their 2013 game for a later date. They couldn’t pass up the Oregon deal and earn a rare eighth home game this season.
And let’s play conspiracy theorist for a moment: Could even that extra home game (with its extra revenue) be a way to prepare for a Virginia move into the Big Ten — as many have speculated?
The rationale would go like this: There wouldn’t be much reason to play this season if you know you’re probably going to play every season soon enough.
But, now let’s turn to Virginia’s replacement on this year’s schedule, the Central Florida Knights.
We know about the head coach connection, between Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and his mentor, George O’Leary of UCF. So the friendship aspect makes sense for scheduling. So does the “bowl destination” feel of a game in Orlando in 2014 during the sanctions.
Then again, does that last part really fly?
Think about it. How does a mid- to late-September game in central Florida really appeal to fans or even players?
I can’t see too many fans paying the money to travel to Orlando in September where it likely will be even hotter and more humid than in Pennsylvania. Plus, their kids would have just started back to school.
And here’s the itinerary for Penn State players on a regular-season road trip: plane ride, bus ride, hotel, game the next day, bus ride, plane ride, home.
You might as well be playing in New Hampshire, North Dakota or Illinois. What’s the difference to the players?
At the very least, you make a September game in Orlando start at night in prime time. Gives it a bigger feel. And it cuts down on the heat and gives fans more Saturday time to roast in the sun.
But the better option would be to explore playing this as a rare non-conference game in November. It’s difficult seeing an end-of-the-season approach, considering that UCF has possible league title possibilities.
And yet it’s likely that Penn State may have one of its two bye weeks in November. There’s a chance the schedule could be tinkered to use the latest bye week as the Central Florida date.
It still wouldn’t give any extra free time for the players in Florida. But it could help lure more fans. And at least arriving and playing in warmer weather in November could add something for players.
Right now, that hope would rely on the 2014 Big Ten schedule being blown up because of the additions of Rutgers and Maryland.
Because, as it is now, Penn State’s November bye week falls after back-to-back road games. A third-straight road game would be unprecedented.
So there’s a chance that the return trip to Orlando could eventually be moved from September or not solidified at all for at least a few months.
Rutgers’ and Maryland’s entrance may need to be ironed out first.