Acting AD will head Penn State coaching search

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A day after being named as Penn State’s acting athletic director, David Joyner addressed the media for the first time Friday.

As expected, questions related directly to the Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal that’s rocked the university and cost several people their jobs already were a major focus.  Additionally, Joyner touched, albeit briefly, on several topics related to the controversy, including who will become the Nittany Lions’ first permanent head coach not named Joe Paterno since 1965.

Joyner, who is replacing Tim Curley as the on-leave AD fights charges of perjury and failure to report in connection to the Sandusky molestation case, said that he will direct the search for a successor to Paterno, although no timeline was given for tapping a replacement or even a hint as to who the candidates might be.

“We’re very aware the process must go on to keep the business of athletics moving forward, football included. But we have a couple of regular season games left, and with any luck maybe one or two more, and we to need to pay attention [to that]— and for those players and coaches to pay attention to do their job right now.”

“Well, I’m the acting athletic director, and I’ll be here as long as it takes, whatever time frame that takes. The acting athletic director will be here for selecting a coach and perhaps quite a while after that. I’ll help pick the coach.”

The name most connected to the opening is former Florida head coach Urban Meyer, although he could be off the market sooner rather than later; rumors are flying around Columbus and various points across the Internet that the current ESPN college football analyst is all but the next head coach of the Buckeyes.  We’ve been assured that’s not the case, although the caveats of “yet/not yet” have been added in each instance an assurance was issued.

Virginia’s Mike London and Rutgers’ Greg Schiano have both been mentioned as possibilities as well, although they have each publicly denied interest in the job.

Tom Bradley, the Nittany Lions’ interim coach, would be a candidate along with any other individual who applied for the position, Joyner said.  Given his three decades-plus of service on Paterno’s staff, however, the likelihood of Bradley having the interim tag stripped from his current title is practically nil.

That was something Joyner seemed to hint at when he talked about the athletic department as a whole and what the future holds.

“I’m sure there will be change,” Joyner said. “There’s always change when you come in and have a new process. …

“I’m just here to tell you that whatever has or has not gone in the past, we’re going to go forward in the athletic department with my view … that this is an academic unit. Now if we’ve lost some of that luster because of things that have happened, I can tell you that I’ve never lost that core value, and this athletic department will reflect that core value.”

Until Joyner temporarily stepped down to become the acting AD, he was a member of the Board of Trustees that decided to fire Paterno last week a few hours after he announced a retirement that would’ve taken place at season’s end.  The fact the board fired the legendary coach over the phone brought a heavy dose of criticism — and one flipped television news van — from Penn State alumni and some in the media who felt JoePa deserved better.

Joyner… indicated that it was due to circumstances. With the media camped out at Paterno’s house, and all over State College, it would have been difficult to get word to the coach without the press getting wind of the decision first.

One final note, for now, from Joyner’s first press conference: the acting AD said that, contrary to rumors, there has been no discussion regarding the removal of the statue honoring Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium.

Missouri set to rent empty dorm rooms to fans for football weekends

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Homecoming could be taken to another level at Missouri this fall with a chance for Tigers fans to actually spend a weekend in their old dorm rooms.

As part of an effort to make up several budget shortfalls and adjust to dwindling freshman enrollment, Mizzou revealed plans this week to rent out unused dorm rooms in residence halls for football games and other campus events. The St. Louis Post Dispatch adds that the concept has been in the works for some time and a mind-boggling seven residence halls have been taken offline in the wake of a huge drop in the number of students following a number of serious issues at the Columbia campus.

Guests who want to bypass a local hotel for games and sign up for the opportunity will be able to grab a furnished, two-bedroom suite with four single beds for $120/night. Internet access, bed sheets and towels are included and you can even head on down to the campus cafeteria to boot in order to buy food. For those planning on tailgating before a big game, the Post Dispatch notes that the school is still discussing whether alcohol will be allowed in the rooms.

While the ability to stay in an actual dorm room is pretty unique when it comes to the SEC football experience at the school, the reason for even taking this step should raise eyebrows even further given the situation at Mizzou. Student protests rocked the campus two years ago and Columbia really hasn’t been the same since with declining enrollment dropping off sharply ever since to further add to the crisis at the university.

Though financial necessities may be forcing the Tigers to go this route with unused dorms, it will be interesting to see if other schools in less dire situations at least take a look at emulating the concept on a smaller scale for game days in the future. Several universities around the country already have on-campus hotels so taking the next step to Airbnb some dorms seems like it will be in the cards for a football Saturday soon enough.

Buffalo reportedly receives state approval for new $18 million football field house

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If it seems like every college football program has an indoor facility nowadays, that’s because it’s a statement that is pretty close to being true. Now it’s time to cross one of the few remaining FBS holdouts off the list of those without one as Buffalo has finally gotten a thumbs up to build one just across the street from the school’s football stadium.

Buffalo Business First reports that the state has given the green light to a nearly $18 million field house project and that the university could issue construction bids for the building as soon as next week.

The project will check off a lot of boxes for the athletic department and the football team in particular. It reportedly will result in a 90,000-square-foot facility that includes both a full turf field and a small track. The exact timeline still appears to be up in the air a bit but it seems as though the school will receive bids soon and then commence construction sometime in early 2018.

That’s welcome news for head coach Lance Leipold as the Bulls were the lone MAC school without an indoor facility as of 2017. Given the winters (and fall’s and spring’s…) in upstate New York, the addition of a place to practice and train away from the elements should be a boon for the program going forward.

Kansas planning $300 million stadium renovation and new indoor football facility

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No matter how good or bad your football team is nowadays, chances are high that your school is planning to upgrade football facilities in order to keep up with the burgeoning college athletics arms race.

Case in point lies in Lawrence, where Kansas is set to embark on a whopping $300 million renovation of Memorial Stadium that will also include an indoor practice facility. AD Sheahon Zenger disclosed the plans on Wednesday night while speaking at a booster function, according to the Kansas City Star.

“It will be something that will be just that next step in transcending our program to the next level,” Jayhawks head coach David Beaty reportedly said. “We really do have to keep up with the facility war that goes on out there.”

Memorial Stadium is one of the older stadiums in the Big 12, dating back to the 1921 opening of the site. While there have been a handful of updates in the past few years, there hasn’t really been much of a major renovation since 1998-99. Plans for the updated design and any additional features should be unveiled in September based on the timeline that Zenger disclosed.

No word on if Kansas is planning on adding any waterfalls to project just yet however.

Arkansas State stadium expansion includes pair of waterfalls

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The college athletics’ arms race of the past few decades has produced a number of unique designs when it comes to various stadiums and other football-centric facilities. Just about everybody is trying to hang their hat on something new and different to set themselves apart from the crowd and that ethos is seemingly creeping into just about every design element in any new building across the country.

Arkansas State appears to be the latest program to go in this direction and, based on new renderings of a north end zone project for Centennial Bank Stadium that were released on Thursday, the school is perfectly content to ignore TLC’s advice and start chasing actual waterfalls.

“This project will allow us to attract the top students in the country and provide first-class services to develop our students on and off the playing surfaces,” athletic director Terry Mohajir said in a statement on the school’s website for the project. “Additionally, we’ve created a unique feature to pay homage to the great state of Arkansas, the Natural State.”

This is far from the only water feature to be incorporated into a stadium in recent years (Jacksonville’s EverBank Field — home to the annual Florida-Georgia game — has a pool after all) but is a little bit outside the box for a smaller FBS school’s stadium. The two waterfalls are set to be placed on either side of the north end zone grandstand and include a new outdoor premium seating area as well. Also included in the project are a new weight room, a training/rehabilitation area, new football locker room, position meeting rooms, a players’ lounge, academic rooms and team-theater meeting area.

No cost breakdown or timeline were given but safe to say the former will involve millions of dollars and the latter will result in several years passing before the water is flowing in Jonesboro.