O’Brien’s agent says Penn State talk ‘off-base’

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Apparently what we have here is a case of premature speculation.

Multiple reports surfaced Sunday connecting New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to the Penn State vacancy, with one going so far as to state that “only contract details need to be finalized” before O’Brien was named as Joe Paterno’s permanent successor.  The head of PSU’s search committee, athletic director David Joyner, refuted the reports earlier today.

This evening, O’Brien’s agent has done the same, saying that his client’s dream is to be an NFL head coach.

“Any imminent contract signing or agreement (with Penn State) is just off-base,” Joe Linta told Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald. “The most important thing for him is to win the Super Bowl. But if someone is going to be interested in him in the NFL, it’s going to happen this week. He could be going somewhere else, he could be returning to the Patriots. But we’ll wait and find out if someone is interested in him and seeks permission to talk with him.”

Not only is a contract not imminent, but Rapoport writes that “there has been no contact and no negotiations” between the two sides.

While this certainly doesn’t mean O’Brien won’t be the Nittany Lions’ next head coach, the brakes have been sufficiently tapped on the O’Brien-to-Penn State talk.

Purdue schedules home-and-home series with TCU… with games a decade apart

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There was a flurry of future schedule changes announced by several college football programs on Thursday afternoon but one of the most curious releases came from TCU and Purdue.

The Horned Frogs and Boilermakers jointly announced a new home-and-home series and the most interesting thing about that was not that the two teams would play at Ross-Ade Stadium on Sept. 14, 2019, but that the second half of the pairing would take place in Fort Worth… a decade later on Sept. 8, 2029. We’ve become used to teams scheduling years and years in advance but even this seems a bit much. Given how fluid some of these games are, one wonders if the teams will even play that second date, much less have their two head coaches around for it.

“Having played and coached under Howard Schnellenberger, I am a firm believer in playing the most competitive schedule you can on a yearly basis,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said in a release. “TCU has a great history and tradition, and certainly fits the criteria of an outstanding non-conference opponent. We look forward to the matchup.”

While the two schools are on opposite ends of the standings on a regular basis, the meeting in two years could be intriguing given Brohm’s high-scoring offense going up against TCU’s Gary Patterson’s renown defensive schemes. At this point though, it’s probably not even worth the effort to pencil in either of the two for that meeting in 2029, which is one of the more unique scheduling dates on the college football calendar.

Ohio State adds Washington to future schedule, tweaks TCU series

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Thursday was a day of scheduling announcements for the Ohio State football program.

Both OSU and Washington announced this afternoon that the schools have reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series. The Huskies will play host to the first game of the series on Sept. 7, 2024, with the Buckeyes returning the favor Sept. 13, 2025.

The teams have met 11 times previously, the first in 1957 and the last in 2007. All of those games have been played during the regular season.

“Big, early-season matchups between traditional powers is a highlight of every college football season,” said UW head coach Chris Petersen in a statement. “I’m really excited that we’ll be able to bring the Buckeyes to Seattle for what should be a great September afternoon for Husky fans and college football fans everywhere.”

Additionally, OSU announced that its home-and-home with TCU scheduled for the 2018 and 2019 seasons will be pared in half to just one game — a neutral-site matchup Sept. 15, 2018, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Both teams will receive $5 million for playing the game at Jerry World.

With the 2019 game with TCU off the schedule, OSU has confirmed that they have replaced that game with one against Miami of Ohio. Concurrently, TCU announced that it has replaced the second game against OSU with the front-end of a home-and-home with Purdue in West Lafayette. The back-end is scheduled to be played a decade later in Fort Worth.

There are also a couple of additional scheduling notes dropped by OSU this afternoon.

  • The home-and-home with Boston College, originally slated for 2023 and 2024, has been pushed back.  The Buckeyes will be the home team for a game on Sept. 19, 2026, and then travel to Chestnut Hill, Mass., on Sept. 18, 2027.
  • A home game against Bowling Green Sept. 5, 2020, has been added.
  • A home game against Tulsa Sept. 18, 2021, has been added as well.

Travel stipends for families remain in place for 2017 playoff semifinals, title game

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At least on one level, common sense will continue to prevail in big-time college football.

Ahead of the first College Football Playoff championship game after the 2014 regular season, the CFP announced that it would provide a travel stipend of $2,500 for the parents/guardians of up to 100 players from each team playing in the title game.  The past two years, those stipends were expanded to include the playoff semifinals as well.

Moving into the the fourth year of the playoff structure, the stipend will remain in place.

It’s assumed that the travel stipend will again be extended to 125 parents/guardians for the two semifinal games as well as title tilt, the same number that’s been in place each of the last two years.

For the 2015 playoffs, a total of $1.5 million was doled out to players’ families. There was a similar figure for the 2016 playoffs.

Over the 12-year life of the contract it reached an agreement on in November of 2012, it’s believed ESPN will pay in excess of $7 billion for the right to broadcast the playoffs as well as the so-called New Year’s Six bowl games.

One final bit of CFP housekeeping while we’re here as the dates for the releases of the 2017 playoff selection committee rankings were announced. The first set of Top 25 rankings will, appropriately enough, be released on Halloween night.

WATCH: Ohio State fans infiltrate Michigan’s practice in Italy

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The greatest rivalry in all of sports never takes a break, even during the offseason on an entirely different continent.

One day after he showered Pope Francis with some Michigan-themed gear, Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines conducted the first on-field practice of their Italian road trip.  There were some “spies” in their midst, however, as a handful of Ohio State fans clad in Buckeyes colors drove a couple of hours to take in their enemy’s practice.

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“I’ve still got my eyes on those guys,” an amused Harbaugh said. “Still a little suspicious.”

The fans, though, came in peace, with one even offering kind words for what the head coach has meant to The Game.

“We love the Big Ten,” Alicia Sexton, a military teacher based in Naples and a graduate of OSU, told the Detroit News. “We really are appreciative to Jim Harbaugh. We love that the rivalry is back, and it makes watching the game in November fun. Harbaugh has definitely brought the rivalry back.”