It’s (back) on! Pitt-Penn State set to renew rivalry

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Almost exactly a month ago today, first-year Pittsburgh head coach Todd Graham stated very publicly that he would not be averse to renewing the school’s in-state rivalry with Penn State, going so far as to say that “[i]t would be something that we’d be very much in favor of.”

Today we learn that both schools are very much in favor of it as well.

In a press release issued by the school, the Panthers announced that the series will resume as an agreement on a home-and-home series has been reached.  Pitt will host the initial game at Heinz Field on September 10, 2016. The Panthers will play at Penn State on September 16, 2017.

“This is an exciting day for college football fans,” Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said in a statement. “The tremendous history of this rivalry is well documented and the passion that fans have for this game is enormous. We are very pleased that this two-game series is now in place and a new generation of fans can experience the excitement of a Pitt-Penn State football game beginning in 2016.”

“As a young football fan in Texas, I used to love watching Pitt and Penn State play every November,” Graham said. “The games were intense and featured some of the greatest players in the history of college football. The resumption of this series is great for the two schools and football fans everywhere.”

The series, first played in 1893, has been on hiatus since 2000, a 12-0 win for Pitt at Three Rivers Stadium.  Penn State, however, leads the all-time series 50-42-4.

With all of that said, major, major kudos to the two schools for this renewal.  These types of rivalries are what makes college football the great sport that it is on the field, and those responsible for getting Pitt-PSU back on the schedule — even if it’s only for a couple of years right now — should be applauded and given a back-slap or two.

UPDATED 5:56 p.m. ET: Interestingly, Pitt chancellor Mark Nordenberg, and not yet head coach Joe Paternohmmm, wonder why that is? — has also issued a statement on the renewal of the rivalry.

“Pitt and Penn State not only are longtime competitors in athletics but also are longtime partners in a broad range of academic and civic initiatives. The renewal of our football rivalry is consistent with that broader relationship, is good for both universities, will be welcomed by college football fans around the country, and presents another important opportunity to showcase Pennsylvania, the home state that we proudly share.”

WATCH: Penn State players danced to Backstreet Boys and Nicki Minaj at THON

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Everybody, rock your body! Penn State football players put on an impressively choreographed performance during a brief skit at Penn State’s annual THON dance marathon.

Although Penn State players were unable to participate in a separate THON-related event due to a scheduling oversight and an NCAA rule, a handful of representatives from the football program took the stage to show off their best dance moves (as did every other Penn State sports team, and more). The mix started off with some Backstreet Boys and ended with some Nicki Minaj, with one player dressed for the part.

The results from Penn State’s annual dance marathon are in too. Penn State students raised $10,151,663.93 to put toward fighting pediatric cancer.

Florida players say they are working harder than ever before in offseason workouts

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It did not take very long for Dan Mullen to prove his way of working in the offseason is going to be a little different from what Florida players had become accustomed to. Judging by a few tweets from Gators players coming out in recent days, Mullen has Florida players working harder than they have in quite some time.

It is not all that uncommon to have a completely new approach to training and physical conditioning any time there is a coaching change at a football program, and the mere change in workout approach alone can be enough to send a jolt through an entire program. Not to suggest workouts under former head coach (and new Michigan offensive assistant) Jim McElwain were easy, but some players on Florida’s roster are claiming on Twitter the workouts they are going through now are getting the job done.

Mullen brought strength and conditioning coach Nick Savage with him from Mississippi State, and you probably see why. Savage has quickly earned the respect of a number of the Florida football players after some intense workouts. Mullen and Savage are out to raise the bar when it comes to both toughness and physical endurance. That could have been seen as an area of weakness for Florida the past couple of years against certain teams (Alabama and Michigan, for example).

The work being put in now is just the beginning for how Mullen wants to get Florida back to the top of the SEC. Getting the team stronger now will have to lead to on-field development as well, especially on offense. Fortunately for Mullen, the offense has been one of his specialties.

Helmet sticker to SEC Country.

Iowa State starting offensive lineman busted for being in bar while underage

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Somebody needs a new fake ID.

Iowa State offensive lineman Sean Foster spent some time in jail overnight after being arrested for being in a bar while underage and interfering with an official. He was charged with two counts; one for “minors prohibited on certain premises” and another for “interference with official acts,” according to an Ames Tribune report. Foster was released from jail with $600 in total bonds for his two charges.

A redshirt sophomore right tackle, Foster started six games for the Cyclones in 2017, including the final four games of the season that concluded with the Liberty Bowl against Memphis. He remains in line for the starting job at right tackle again in 2018, beginning with a chance to start the spring as the expected starter. This particular incident may not affect that outlook all that much in the grand scheme of things, so long as Foster stays out of additional trouble and there isn’t more to the story behind the scenes.

According to the Ames Tribune, Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell was not expected to release any comment or statement about the incident. Foster’s status with the Iowa State program is unchanged until given further notice, although some form of internal discipline for an act like this is likely to occur in some capacity at some point in time.

Report: Jim McElwain signs deal to join Michigan staff

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The Jim McElwain watch in Ann Arbor is essentially done. ESPN reports the former head coach of the Florida Gators has signed a deal to join Jim Harbaugh as a new member of the Michigan coaching staff. Michigan has not formally announced the new addition yet, but McElwain told ESPN he is getting to work right away as a wide receivers coach.

I’m excited to get back into it and am looking forward to going there and learning and helping Michigan get better,” McElwain said to ESPN‘s Chris Low, who reported the latest update in the ongoing McElwain-To-Michigan story. It has been quite a year for McElwain, who has now gone from wanting to “beat the heck out of Michigan” to joining Harbaugh as an offensive assistant (Harbaugh was 2-0 against McElwain in head-to-head meetings between Michigan and Florida).

McElwain was fired by Florida last October in the midst of a disappointing season after discrepancies in McElwain’s claims about receiving death threats could not be backed up by the coach. Florida bought out McElwain’s contract at a reported $7.5 million.

Michigan had been looking to fill the role of receivers coach following the abrupt departure of Dan Enos to Alabama. Enos joined the Michigan coaching staff for a cup of coffee, getting hired in January after the Arkansas coaching staff was given an overhaul with the firing of Bret Bielema only to leave for a job with Nick Saban. McElwain, of course, is one of many coaches to jump into head coaching off the Saban coaching tree in recent years, first with Colorado State and most recently with Florida.

Previous reports have floated the idea McElwain will call plays for the Wolverines, but that remains unconfirmed.