There are a lot of terrible outcomes from the mass realignment of the earliest part of this decade, but this is by far the worst: the breakup of longtime rivalries.
Pitt and Penn State — or is it Penn State and Pitt? — are in the midst of a 4-year reunion, and it’s been great so far. The Panthers’ 42-39 win over the Nittany Lions in Pittsburgh last season was not only a thrilling game, but it kept Penn State out of the College Football Playoff. This is what college football rivalries are all about, no? Who wouldn’t want to make this an annual thing again?
Penn State, that’s who.
Speaking at a coaches’ caravan event last week, Penn State AD Sandy Barbour told Nittany Lions fans that the earliest their team would start playing their rivals to the west again after the current agreement expires in 2019 would be 2026.
“That’s our Power 5 slot,” Barbour said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We are scheduled out in that Power 5 slot through 2025, so it certainly isn’t going to be before then.”
The Nittany Lions are slated to play home-and-homes with Virginia Tech (2020, ’25), Auburn (2021-22) and West Virginia (2023-24) in the intervening years. Those are no slouches, to be fair to Barbour. Virginia Tech and West Virginia are regional rivals, and Auburn presents an interesting intersectional matchup. But it’s too bad Penn State can’t play Pitt and Virginia Tech/Auburn/West Virginia — an unrealistic option given the 9-game schedules deemed necessary by the Big Ten’s bloat to 14 teams. (Thanks again, realignment!)
For their part, Pitt has Notre Dame lined up in 2020, a home-and-home with Tennessee in 2021-22 and a 4-game series with West Virginia from 2022-25 (along with another game against the Irish in ’25). Not bad, either.
But the end result is a rivalry between the two major programs in Pennsylvania that was played on a near annual basis throughout the 20th century will be played only four times during the first quarter of the 21st century.
While everybody on the Palouse is worried about Mike Leach following athletic director Bill Moos to Nebraska this week, a more pressing concern for Washington State is getting back on track and beating Colorado on Saturday night.
That might be just a tad bit tougher now because the school has suspended leading receiver Tavares Martin Jr.’s for one game following his actions subsequent to the team’s loss at Cal last Friday. The reason he won’t suit up when the Buffs roll into Pullman? It seems he got a tad angry, throwing a bit of a temper tantrum and skipping a practice.
“He was a little angry, saying things hadn’t gone his way the last couple of games. He broke a team rule and needs to be punished for that,” the receiver’s father, Tavares Martin Sr., told The Seattle Times. “He just made a mistake, and he had to pay a price for it. It was a miscommunication between him and the coaches. He was upset. He said he felt like he should have been more involved in that game.”
Martin Jr. leads the team in receiving yards (502) and touchdowns (seven) after starting all seven games this season. Despite that, he had just three catches in the Cougars’ 37-3 loss in Berkeley that caused them to tumble out of the top 10.
The Florida native reportedly apologized for his actions and was placed on the scout team in practices prior to playing Colorado. It seems the stiff lesson is being learned quickly though as he is expected to be back for Wazzu’s game at Arizona next Saturday — likely with a much different attitude.
The greatest intersectional rivalry in college football between USC and Notre Dame is turning into a potential battle of walking wounded on defense. The latest name on the injury list? Irish linebacker Greer Martini.
The starter and team leader has been dealing with a knee injury he suffered in practice and while there was some thought he could be back for Saturday’s massive showdown with the team’s rivals from Los Angeles, that appears not to be the case. Indianapolis Star beat writer Laken Litman reported on Thursday afternoon that Brian Kelly confirmed after practice Martini would miss the game and that he had a surgical procedure to clean up an unspecified meniscus injury on his knee.
Martini is a captain on the team and the third leading tackler on the defense. In his absence, junior Te’von Coney likely slides into the starting lineup at linebacker. The good news might be that Martini could be back for an equally important game against N.C. State that could loom large in any College Football Playoff discussion next month.
The Trojans are dealing with the loss of defensive tackle Josh Fatu and linebacker Porter Gustin for this week’s trip to South Bend as well so both sides have a number of injuries that could hamper their ability to stop the run on Saturday. Given that the game will feature two of the best tailbacks in the country in Ronald Jones and Josh Adams, things could turn into a track meet come kickoff time on NBC.
It seems the tumultuous offseason that Mark Dantonio has experienced dating back to last year is not ending with the 2017 campaign being well underway for his Spartans. That’s because the Michigan State head coach is dealing with yet another headache, this time caused by star running back LJ Scott. The Lansing State Journal reports that Scott was arrested on Wednesday for driving on a suspended license.
Now you might say, oh that’s not that big of a deal all things considered. Generally you’d be correct depending on the circumstances. Yet in this case it kind of is a big deal because this is the seventh time — yes, seven times — Scott has been arrested for the same general offense. So yeah.
Per the LSJ:
‘Scott, 21, was arrested and later released on a personal recognizance bond, East Lansing Police spokesman Lt. Chad Connelly said Thursday. He declined to comment further because Scott has not yet been arraigned.
The charge carries up to a year in jail if Scott is convicted because he has at least one prior conviction on the same charge, which is typically a 93-day misdemeanor.’
What might be worse is that the junior has been cited for the same issue across two different states, including Michigan and his native Ohio. The first instance happened back in February 2016 according to the paper, but charges were dropped after a citation was issued and a fine paid. Scott got caught later in March 2016 when he was speeding, another time in April 2016 after being involved in a car crash, and yet again in July 2016 by campus police.
But wait, there’s more.
Scott was pulled over and charged again this past March and another time as recently as July. The LSJ does not have information as to why his license was suspended in the first place but we can offer a few guesses.
What might be even more infuriating for Dantonio and the coaching staff is that Scott just posted a career high against Minnesota (194 yards) and seemed to finally emerge as the primary ball carrier over senior Gerald Holmes and fellow junior Madre London.
The school had not released a statement regarding the matter but it’s probably safe to assume that the Spartans will be without Scott on Saturday when they play Indiana.
If you wanted to see BYU and East Carolina play some more football, congrats because this is your lucky day.
Prior to the Cougars’ trip to Greenville this week, the two schools announced on Thursday that they will be adding another two game set to their ongoing series. As these schedule announcements usually do, the dates are well into the future — with a game in Provo for Oct. 15, 2022 between the two teams and a return date for Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium back east on Oct. 19, 2024.
“We have enjoyed the opportunity to play teams from the American Athletic Conference, including the current series with East Carolina,” BYU athletics director Tom Holmoe said in a release. “ECU is a great matchup and it was an easy decision to schedule another series with them. It provides our team with a unique travel opportunity, and it gives Cougar fans who live in the southeast another opportunity to see us play.”
The two sides are wrapping up the first two game series on Saturday as BYU travels to East Carolina in a game where the teams combined record is a whopping 2-12. The Cougars won 45-38 last year in Utah during the first meeting.
The upcoming series gives ECU three non-conference opponents for both 2022 and 2024 as a result, and becomes the first team scheduled by BYU for the 2024 slate.