Bill O’Brien wants to take Penn State overseas

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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.

Report: Oklahoma State adding Bob Stitt as offensive analyst

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Bob Stitt, who has become a bit of a cult hero in the college football coaching world over the last few years, is moving on up. Oklahoma State will reportedly add Stitt as an offensive analyst, according to a report from Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter.

Stitt was fired by Montana after this past season after missing the FCS playoffs for a second consecutive season and a second-round exit in his first season with the program in 2015. Stitt had become a rising star in the lower levels of college football after reshaping the offensive strategies with Colorado Mines in Division 2. The Nebraska native has coached a Harlon Hill Trophy winner (Division 2’s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy) and has coached Colorado Mines to three conference championships. Stitt gained notoriety after being given credit for his offensive strategies by West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen.

Stitt being let go by Montana came as a bit of a surprise after just three seasons with the program. Offensively speaking, Oklahoma State rarely needs any assistance in moving the football and scoring, but Mike Gundy is wise to bring in a mind like Stitt to add to the expanding of the offensive schemes in Stillwater.

As an offensive analyst, Stitt will be prevented from doing any on-field coaching and instead will focus on prepping the game plan and breaking down film. However, having Stitt on the staff in some capacity leaves a door open for a future position on the 10-man coaching staff should a position open at some point.

Jeff Banks looks to make Alabama’s special teams a strength

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If there is any crack in Alabama’s championship foundation, it may be on special teams. Looking to patch things up with the special teams, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has brought on new special teams coordinator Jeff Banks. The former Texas A&M special teams coordinator was officially announced as Alabama’s new special teams coach on Thursday.

“We are pleased to be able to add a coach the caliber of Jeff Banks to our staff as special teams coordinator,” Saban said in a released statement. “Jeff is well-respected across the country for his knowledge of the game and his ability to recruit. He is a great teacher and someone who will help our football team be successful.”

Banks comes to Alabama after five years at Texas A&M under former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, who was recently hired by Arizona. Special teams was one of the more consistently reliable aspects of the Aggies program under his watch, so Alabama hopes that can carry over to Tuscaloosa.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join Coach Saban’s staff at The University of Alabama and work with such a talented group of student-athletes,” Banks said. “Coach Saban has built an unbelievable program that has a long tradition of success. I’m really excited to get out on the road recruiting, and I look forward to doing my part to help continue the success this program has enjoyed.”

Alabama ranked 90th in the nation last season in field goal percentage and 50th in the nation in punting average. Obviously, this has not hurt Alabama’s chances of competing for and winning national titles over the course of Saban’s time at Alabama, but it is somewhat remarkable just how many times special teams seems to make things just a little more difficult for the Crimson Tide. I suppose something has to at some point, right? In the recent College Football Playoff national championship, Alabama had to beat Georgia in overtime after a last-second field goal attempt at the end of the fourth quarter was missed.

The rich just keep getting richer at Alabama.

Temple prepares for next step in quest for new on-campus football stadium

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With time running out on the current lease at Lincoln Financial Field appearing on the horizon, Temple University continues to move forward with exploring their plans for a potential multipurpose facility that could be used to host Temple football on Temple’s campus. The school is now preparing to take the next step forward with the idea by presenting the plans to the City Planning Commission with the hope of being given the approval to continue pushing toward breaking ground on a new facility on Temple’s campus.

“We have said from the start that our first priority has been to engage with our neighbors and local leaders to determine the potential for, and impact of, this facility,” Temple president Richard Englert said in a released statement. “After more than two years of these discussions, and in light of the project’s tremendous value for Temple and North Philadelphia, I have concluded that the time is right to take this step.”

One of the biggest concerns about any on-campus football stadium is the reaction from the neighboring community that has been reluctant to embrace a football stadium being dropped right in the neighborhood.

Englert said in a released statement the university “will continue our conversations with neighbors to address concerns over the impact of the project.”

The football stadium would, in theory, be able to serve multiple purposes in addition to football and will be designed with surrounding economic opportunities in mind. Space for retail locations will be a part of the master plans to help inject some revenue into the surrounding area, and educational facilities will be included in the plans as well.

In all, the plan is currently estimated to cost roughly $130 million. Temple recently negotiated a short-term extension on their lease to use Lincoln Financial Field through 2019. If Temple is given the approval to move forward with their stadium plan, they could theoretically be able to play a true home game on their campus beginning in 2020.

Chuckie Keeton returns to Utah State as offensive assistant coach

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One of Utah State’s all-time best players is back with the program. Chuckie Keeton is joining the Utah State coaching staff, although his exact title has not yet been officially confirmed.

What role Keeton will take on remains to be officially announced, although the speculation is he will be an offensive assistant coach who will work with the Utah State quarterbacks. This will be Keeton’s second coaching job since his playing days came to a close. Keeton got started at Oregon State under former Utah State and Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen. Keeton joined the Oregon State coaching staff in 2016. With changes in the Oregon State program with a coaching change this offseason, now was as good a time as any for Keeton to return to Utah State, where he became one of the top players from a non-power conference program to become a bit of a household name.

Keeton shared his reaction to returning to his alma mater on Twitter.

Keeton holds a number of Utah State records including career records for completion percentage and pass efficiency and season records for most touchdown passes, passing yards, total offensive yards, and completion percentage. Utah State finished the 2017 season ranked 69th in the nation in passing offense and ended the year with 17 passing touchdowns to 13 interceptions.

Keeton’s college career was sidetracked by injuries far too often, but it will be good to see Keeton back with the Utah State program as he continues his coaching career.