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:
08/31 – Syracuse (already a neutral site game in East Rutherford, NJ)
09/07 – Eastern Michigan
09/14 – Virginia
09/21 – Kent State
08/30 – Temple
09/06 – Akron
09/13 – at Rutgers
09/20 – UMass
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.