Ohio State v Penn State

Bill O’Brien wants to take Penn State overseas

19 Comments

Since Penn State will not be playing in the postseason in the next four years thanks to NCAA sanctions, Nittany Lions coach Bill O’Brien has been trying to come up with creative ways to give his team something to look forward to during bowl season. In July, and shortly after NCAA president Mark Emmert levied the sanctions against PSU, O’Brien suggested that perhaps Penn State could play a 13th game against Hawaii. However, that idea probably would have a difficult time coming to fruition.

“It’s normally a part of the penalties in a major infractions case when a postseason ban is issued,” John Infante of the Bylaw Blog told CFT on whether the NCAA would allow that game to occur. “It’s not in the consent decree, so still an open question of whether the NCAA would allow it as a 13th game. My bet is no.”

On his Thursday radio show, O’Brien came forward with another idea: playing a regular season game overseas. “Hopefully we can do something in the near future,” O’Brien said.

Like the Hawaii game, this is nothing more than a conversation starter right now. There are two basic hurdles Penn State would have to overcome for this to happen. First is scheduling. Here are the teams the Nittany Lions have on future nonconference slates:

2013
08/31 – Syracuse (already a neutral site game in East Rutherford, NJ)
09/07 – Eastern Michigan
09/14 – Virginia
09/21 – Kent State

2014
08/30 – Temple
09/06 – Akron
09/13 – at Rutgers
09/20 – UMass

2015
09/05 – at Temple
09/12 – Buffalo
09/19 – Rutgers

The 2013 nonconference schedule is included simply because it falls under the four-year postseason ban, but realistically, there’s little to no chance of anything happening as soon as next year. That currently leaves two road games, at Rutgers in 2014 and at Temple in 2015, as possible target games. As Kevin McGuire of The Examiner points out, Penn State would be reluctant to give up a home game for a trip overseas. Convincing Rutgers or Temple to do the same might be a tough sell as well. The common denominator is that the payout needs to be worth the trip, wherever it is.

And then there’s the whole NCAA issue. Infante explains on his blog that going overseas to play a game by itself is fine, but taking a foreign tour, which would in essence act as a bowl trip and include additional practice time, could be more complicated. “Penn State would need clarification on whether the fact that is has no postseason opportunities through 2015 prevents it forfeiting those postseason opportunities to go on a foreign tour,” Infante writes.

O’Brien is being creative. He inherited a tough situation and he’s trying to make the best of it. Everything is a selling point for a coach. If there’s no bowl game, looking at an alternative gives him a talking point when he’s on recruiting trips. Make no mistake, an overseas game will be difficult to pull off, but there’s nothing in Penn State’s consent decree that says the program can’t at least look into it.

Western Michigan to transfer ‘Row the Boat’ trademark to P.J. Fleck, per report

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: Head coach P.J. Fleck looks on from the sideline during the first half while playing the Ohio Bobcats during the MAC Championship on December 2, 2016 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

“Row the Boat” will soon row its way from Kalamazoo to Minneapolis.

According to a report from Madison Bennett of MLive, Western Michigan will soon transfer the “Row the Boat” trademark over to its former head coach P.J. Fleck.

“It’s just a matter of negotiating the terms of the release of that intellectual property,” WMU trustee William Johnston told MLive.

Fleck introduced the phrase at his introductory press conference in December of 2012 and turned it into a program mantra. The phrase joined national consciousness this season as Fleck guided the Broncos to an undefeated regular season, a MAC championship and an appearance in the Cotton Bowl. That success led him to take the head job at Minnesota earlier this month.

Fleck has stated the phrase has personal meaning to him, first spawning after he and his first wife Tracie lost infant son Colt to a heart condition.

“It comes from a very personal, personal tragedy in my life and that’s where ‘Row the Boat’ came from,” Fleck told ESPN earlier this month. “So, I really hope they do see that, and [that] they are willing to allow me to take that, but we’ll see as we move forward. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with it, but I really hope because of what it means, that I have the ability to at least purchase it, take it with me, and continue to change other people’s lives through tragedy, through adversity, in just a different area.”

Notre Dame hires Tommy Rees as quarterbacks coach

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 10:  Tommy Rees #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish talks with head coach Brian Kelly while playing the  Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on September 10, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tommy Rees is back in the Notre Dame quarterbacks room. Except now he’s running the room, and he’s no longer Tommy Rees.

Notre Dame on Tuesday announced the hiring of Tom Rees as its new quarterbacks coach, three seasons after he left school as its starting quarterback.

“When I finished my playing career and graduated from Notre Dame, I wanted to do two things,” Rees said in a statement. “First, I wanted to coach, and second, at some point in my career I hoped to get an opportunity to return and do it at my alma mater. I didn’t know when or if this opportunity might present itself, but I’m so grateful and honored that it did. I’m ready to get things rolling with this great staff and group of student-athletes.”

After starting the entirety of the 2011 and ’13 seasons and playing off-and-on in ’10 and ’12, Rees left school ranking third in Irish history with 7,670 passing yards, second with 61 touchdown passes, and seventh all-time with 23 victories against eight losses.  He was named Notre Dame’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2013.

“I’m very excited to have Tom join our staff,” head coach Brian Kelly added. “He possesses an understanding of the game, and most importantly the quarterback position, that’s unique. He’s a true student of the game and great communicator that will offer immediate dividends toward guiding our quarterback room.

“As a former quarterback at Notre Dame, Tom also has a rare ability to truly relate with the quarterbacks on our roster. He’s literally sat in their seat, dealt with the ups and downs, faced the criticism, deflected the praise, and all that comes with playing the position at Notre Dame. He can genuinely mentor them — not only on the football field, but in the classroom and the community as well.”

Rees jumped into coaching as a graduate assistant at Northwestern in 2015, then spent last season as an offensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers.

Jim Harbaugh becomes first coach to pay three assistants $1 million

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 21:  Jim Harbaugh head coach of the Michigan Wolverines run onto the field prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium on November 21, 2015 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)
Getty Images
5 Comments

According to the USA Today coaching salary database, a dozen assistant coaches took home at least $1 million in 2016.

That number will rise to at least 15 in 2017, and three of the coaches will wear maize and blue.

Michigan released contract information Tuesday that shows offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, defensive coordinator Don Brown and quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton will each take home $1 million in 2017. This comes on the heels of Jim Harbaugh taking home an industry-leading $9 million himself in 2016.

In another move that will not go unnoticed within the industry, Harbaugh has also handed lengthy contracts to each assistant. Drevno and Brown each inked 5-year deals, and Hamilton a 4-year one.

Brown’s deal stays at a flat $1 million through the first four years before jumping to $1.4 million in Year 5, with $1.4 million in retention bonuses built in. Hamilton will make $1.25 million in the final year of his contract, with $700,000 waiting after the second and third seasons. Drevno will make $1 million with no retention bonuses, but he has netted a $150,000 signing bonus.

Contract details oncoming:

The Wolverines are 20-6 in the first two seasons of the Harbaugh era.

Texas Tech adds former Red Raider center as O-line coach

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 14: The Texas Tech Red Raiders take the field before the game against the Kansas State Wildcats on November 14, 2015 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech won the game 59-44. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brandon Jones‘ coaching career began in Lubbock after his playing days at Texas Tech came to an end, and now that career will continue on at his alma mater.

Jones, Tech announce via a press release, has been hired as the Red Raiders new offensive line coach.  The hiring of Jones comes a couple of days after Tech announced that Lee Hays would not be returning to Kliff Kingsbury‘s coaching staff in 2017.

“We’re excited to welcome Coach Jones to our staff,” the head coach said in a statement. “He’s regarded as one of the top offensive line coaches in the country, and our program will benefit from his leadership. We’re looking forward to our offensive line continuing to develop under him.”

The past two seasons, Jones served as the line coach and running-game coordinator at Cal.

Prior to that, he was the line coach at East Carolina from 2010-14. Jones started 22 games along the line for the Red Raiders before becoming a grad assistant with the football program in 2007.