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.
Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo could have a charge of simple assault dropped by a New Jersey court today. The woman he is accused of slamming to the concrete has agreed to drop the restraining order request and has asked the assault charge against the Rutgers receiver be dropped as well. NJ.com reports today the woman and Carroo each appeared in a family court on Tuesday, and the woman told the judge she is not scared of Carroo.
So, what does this mean for football? Simply put, it means Carroo may be eligible to play again as soon as this weekend. That would be good timing, as Rutgers is set to host Michigan State this Saturday night.
Carroo has been sitting out while serving an indefinite suspension while this legal process plays out. Carroo has missed each of the last two games for Rutgers, against Penn State and Kansas. Rutgers was off this past weekend. If this legal process does play out as it is expected at this point, Carroo could be reinstated quickly and promptly, making him eligible to return right away. Carroo is one fo the best players on the roster, so having him back and eligible to play is very good news for the Scarlet Knights offense.
The recent flooding in the state of South Carolina has brought many dangers and concerns much more important than football with it, but this being a college football-focused website we must dive into the connection real life issues have with the sport from time to time. South Carolina is scheduled to host LSU in Columbia this Saturday, and that still appears to be the plan. Alternate plans have been discussed though, just in case they will be needed as the week unfolds.
The very concept of moving a college football game to another stadium is indeed a rare situation. It is not, however, completely without precedent. The 1942 Rose Bowl between Duke and Oregon State (my how the times have changed) was moved from Pasadena, California across the country to be played in Durham, North Carolina. This was out of fear of the west coast being attacked during World War II though. LSU’s Tiger Stadium has served as a home football stadium for a weather-related event in the past as well. The New Orleans Saints played four games in Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and forced the Saints to play the entire 2005 season on the road.
Today is only Tuesday, so there is still some time to make sure Williams-Brice Stadium and the surrounding area is suitable for hosting the SEC contest this weekend. Odds are the game will be able to be played as scheduled, but safety for fans and teams involved is always the priority.