Who says rabid interest in spring football is limited to just the SEC and Deep South?
With a spring game slate featuring a whopping nine schools from the 12-team (for now) conference, Penn State stood head and shoulders above every other Big Ten program as slightly more than 72,000 fans took in the Nittany Lions’ spring closer. The school came within a few thousand of breaking the program’s spring-game record of 76,500, set in 2009.
A big reason behind the turnout is the enthusiasm generated by new head coach James Franklin and his PSU coaching staff. After just a handful of months on the job after replacing Bill O’Brien, Franklin and his staff have already been credited with “breathing new life into a program still in recovery mode” from the you-know-who scandal. Recruiting has picked up to a very brisk pace and, as evidenced by the turnout Saturday, enthusiasm from the fan base appears to be growing at roughly the same clip.
Yes, it’s the spring, but the energy Franklin has brought to Happy Valley is refreshing to see — and well-deserved for a community that’s been doubled over the last couple of years by the one-two hook of the scandal and subsequent NCAA sanctions.
In other Big Ten attendance news, both Nebraska and Ohio State saw crowds in excess of 61,000 for their respective spring games. The former had an exact total of 61,772 — 61,773 if you count the cat — while the latter was announced at just over the 61,000-fan mark. The total for the Buckeyes may be a bit of a disappointment to head coach Urban Meyer, who had been hoping to see 85,000-plus pack the Horseshoe and put on a show for recruits; OSU didn’t help that cause by initially charging $20 for what amounts to nothing more than a glorified practice session with referees.
While the school ultimately dropped the price to $5 a head, it was seemingly too little, too late to get to the number for which Meyer had hoped.
As Florida Atlantic looks to put a halt to a six-game losing streak, tied with Bowling Green, Fresno State and Kansas for the longest such streak nationally, they’ll have to do so without a starting piece of their offensive line.
Head coach Charlie Partridge announced Wednesday that Bryan Beck will miss the remainder of the 2016 season because of injury. Specifically, the right tackle has an unspecified knee injury.
Beck was pushed into the starting lineup because of a knee injury to senior Kelly Parfitt.
“We’ll attack this challenge like we have the rest of them,” Partridge said of the latest injury setback for his offensive line.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the Owls will be using their eight different line combination this weekend. Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky will be FAU’s eighth this season.
A redshirt freshman, Beck has started four games this season. Three of those starts came in the last three games in place of the injured Parfitt.
Former Penn State tight end Brent Wilkerson will serve five years of probation and must register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to indecent assault on Tuesday.
Wilkerson was accused of pushing a woman upstairs to her bedroom back in February. The two fell asleep but the woman claimed to wake up to discover she was being kissed and fondled by Wilkerson. A police report said Wilkerson was drunk but the woman was not.
Wilkerson was slated to be a key contributor to Penn State’s offense in 2016, but after initially being suspended by the program in the spring, he was dismissed by the program weeks later.
Notre Dame may be going through a disappointing college football season, but quarterback DeShone Kizer says the players have not lost their faith in their head coach, Brian Kelly.
“We have complete confidence in coach Kelly,” Kizer said, according to The Indy Star. “He has experience, he’s a winning coach, he knows how to win and he’s going to figure out whatever it takes to win. And as long as we continue to have the mentality that he is the successful coach that he is and trust in that, we’re going to be fine.:
Notre Dame is just 2-5 this season, with their bowl hopes fading quickly. As Notre Dame has struggled, Kelly has come under some fire for how he has handled the season thus far, which has included throwing others under the bus, a change at defensive coordinator and poor coaching decisions along the way. The preseason expectation of being a potential playoff contender in the eyes of some set the bar high for Kelly and the Irish, and so far Notre Dame has come nowhere close to living up to those standards.
Kelly has already received a vote of confidence from Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick. Now he has his starting quarterback behind him.
“We’ve been all over the place in this first half of the season from different motivational speeches to different mindsets each week trying to figure out what’s the best way of getting a win and doing whatever we can,” Kizer said. “But from here on out, it’s just having a good time, taking this opportunity to play for Notre Dame and doing whatever you can to bring home wins.”
Minnesota was busy on the scheduling front today with the announcement of future home-and-home series with Colorado and BYU.
Minnesota will host BYU on September 26, 2020 and travel to BYU five years later on September 20, 2025. In between, Minnesota will complete a home-and-home with Colorado from the Pac-12. Colorado will host the Gophers on September 18, 2021 and Minnesota will welcome the Buffs to their turf on September 17, 2022. (FBSchedules.com notes the Minnesota-Colorado series has been known since 2012, leaving it a mystery why it was announced today).
For Minnesota, all four game swill satisfy their nonconference scheduling obligation in the Big Ten. Big Ten teams must schedule one game per year against another power conference opponent, or one deemed to be equal in status. BYU meets that standard for the Big Ten. The Pac-12 has no such scheduling obligations for its members.
Colorado is 3-0 all-time against the Gophers, with the most recent meeting between the two coming in 1992. Minnesota and BYU have never met in football.