Sandy Barbour

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Penn State AD had no problem with Ohio State being in CFB Playoff

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Penn State may have defeated Ohio State in a head-to-head matchup during the 2016 season, but Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour says she was not bitter seeing the Buckeyes selected to play in the College Football Playoff instead of the Big Ten champion Nittany Lions. But that doesn’t mean she was satisfied having to settle for playing in the Rose Bowl (which, in fairness, isn’t a bad consolation prize).

“I think Ohio State should’ve gone. I have no problem with the fact Ohio State went,” Barbour said while attending Big Ten spring meetings in Illinois, according to Land of 10. “In fact, you know, we were arguably the best league in the country and we didn’t go. So let’s try to figure out why and what is there. [Whether] it’s we, Penn State, or we, as a conference … how do we address that in the future?”

The debate over whether or not Penn State should have been included in last season’s College Football Playoff boiled down to two teams; Ohio State and Pac-12 champion Washington. Penn State owned a head-to-head victory over the Buckeyes and went on to win the Big Ten championship, but Ohio State won a road game against eventual Big 12 champion Oklahoma and topped a Michigan team that blasted Penn State earlier in the season to end the regular season with a better regular season record than Penn State. Washington also finished the season with just one loss to Penn State’s two, and wrapped up the Pac-12 championship to boot (both Washington and Penn State ended up losing to USC last season). With those facts alone, it made some sense why Penn State would have been omitted from the playoff (and hindsight being 20/20 as Penn State lost to USC in the Rose Bowl is arguably fair to rely on as well; Ohio State getting blanked by Clemson doesn’t help the PSU argument either).

But there were some numbers that favored Penn State over Washington, most notable being strength of schedule slanting significantly in favor of Penn State. With everything in the past though, the focus shifts to the future and what happens the next time the scenario of a Big Ten (or another power conference) champion could be left out in favor of another team from the conference pops up. As things stand now, there are no mandates requiring playoff teams to be conference champions, which is fair because there is always the possibility a team like Alabama could be a clear top four team, run the table in the regular season and the be upset in a close conference championship game. Every season will include different variables, so coming up with one concrete way to settle on the top four teams will never truly be accomplished unless the College Football Playoff decides playoff participants must be conference champions. But again, that leaves the door open to the possibility of a dominant team being left out anyway. Which brings us back to the main question the selection committee is forced to answer: do you choose the four best teams or the four most deserving teams? To many, those are two different qualifiers, and to others, they are the same.

You could argue Penn State was a better team at the end of the regular season and conference championship games than Ohio State or Washington was, but the Nittany Lions lost twice while the others lost just once. With just four spots available, the debates will continue. With an eight-team playoff, the controversy could easily go away by allocating one spot for each power conference champion, one spot for the top Group of Five conference champion and two additional wild card spots.

Penn State AD recommends alcohol sales at athletic events

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Penn State could be next in line to offer alcohol to those attending athletic events, including football games at Beaver Stadium. But pump the brakes on the idea of getting a beer in the stands at the next Penn State home game. Like many around the country have already explored, the recommendation to the university’s board of trustees from athletics director Sandy Barbour is currently only focused on selling booze in private seating areas.

“Those engaging in private and premium seating experiences expect hospitality to include alcoholic beverage service, similar to those in comparable facilities in other markets,” Barbour said, according to The Daily Collegian. “We believe, because of this, we will find new revenue in the value of opportunity to purchase alcohol more so than the sale of alcohol itself.”

Penn State is in the minority among Big Ten programs offering some degree of alcohol sales at athletic events. Eight schools out of the 14 Big Ten institutions currently offer alcohol sales at sporting events. The extra revenue generated by alcohol sales in the Big Ten and beyond has demonstrated it is viable and economical without major risk to safety of those attending events. Penn State could benefit from the extra revenue as well, especially if the sales are expanded in due time. Penn State is currently in the process of reviewing potential renovation plans that would require a significant amount of funds to account for. Alcohol sales would certainly help with that cause. And hey, there’s already a beer fit for the occasion.

Ohio State began experimenting with beer and wine sales in Ohio Stadium last fall. Maryland was ready to let the booze flow last year.

Penn State, Pitt ADs will discuss potential future of in-state series

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New leadership and conference scheduling requirements and commitments may leave the door wide open for a long-term future for a Keystone State rivalry. Penn State and Pittsburgh have not played since 2000, but a four-game series will begin next season. Penn State Athletics Director Sandy Barbour said this week at Big Ten media days she is scheduled to discuss the future of the series with her counterpart at Pittsburgh, Scott Barnes, in the coming months.

“Scott Barnes, [Pitt’s] new AD, I’ve known for a long time,” Barbour said Friday, according to Audrey Snyder of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We’ve had a brief conversation. I think we’re scheduled here in the next month or so to talk about it. We’ve got a big puzzle in looking at our non-conference schedule, so we’ll see where that fits in.”

The Big Ten will be moving to a new conference-wide scheduling philosophy that will see all 14 members committed to scheduling one game per season against a power conference opponent. While not technically a requirement, it is one aspect of the new scheduling direction the Big Ten is taking a firm stance. The ACC requires all conference members to schedule one game against a power conference opponent each season as well. This would seem to make Penn State and Pittsburgh ideal and logical scheduling partners for years to come. But college football scheduling is not always so easy.

Pittsburgh will host Penn State in the 2016 season to open up a four-game series between the in-state power programs. The original deal in place was for a brief home-and-home series with each side getting a home game. That was later expanded to a four-game deal, and it is likely to remain that way for the time being. With future schedules arranged years in advance, it may not be likely to see Penn State and Pittsburgh put together any long-term or even brief series for a number of years down the road, as it is not likely either school will be overenthusiastic to schedule multiple power conference opponents in any given year if possible, at least on a regular basis.

Report: Penn State tabs Sandy Barbour as new AD

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After two and half years of turmoil in the school’s leadership, Penn State University has finally found the person it wants to lead its athletic programs.

Sandy Barbour, who previously served as Cal’s athletic director, will take over the same role at Penn State, according to ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy. Barbour fills the role vacated by soon-to-be-retired Penn State AD Dave Joyner, who took over the position after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Barbour, 54, was Cal’s athletic director from 2004 until she resigned from the position on June 27. Prior to Cal, Barbour served as Notre Dame’s deputy director of athletics from 2002 to ’04.

During her time with the Golden Bears, the university’s football team was 68-57.  However, the program has been on a steady decline over the past four years. Part of the reason Barbour was eventually forced out at Cal was based on the football program’s 1-11  record last season and it finished dead last in the Pac-12 among graduation rates.

Barbour was able to get a new stadium built for the football program, but she left Cal with $445 million in debt due to athletic renovations, according to the San Francisco Gate.

There will also be a question of how Barbour will mesh with the coaching staffs already in place.

Penn State’s football program was kept afloat by former head coach Bill O’Brien. Once O’Brien left for the NFL, Penn State made a major hire by luring James Franklin away from Vanderbilt. However, there are always concerns over how attached a new athletic director is with a head coach they didn’t hire.

Barbour will provide Penn State with something the university has lacked in recent years…stability. But her recent track record makes this a questionable hire.

Cal AD scolds Bielema for “death certificate” comment; Bielema apologizes

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On Friday the California football family celebrated the life of Ted Agu, who recently passed away after collapsing during a conditioning drill. Agu’s death was referenced by Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema when asked about the evidence to support a rule proposal designed to slow down the tempo of the offense in college football. As you may have heard by now, the comment did not exactly go over with much grace. This we expect from Bielema though.

Bielema’s comments were addressed Friday by California Athletics Director Sandy Barbour, who scolded Bielema for taking advantage of a tragedy to further his agenda.

Bielema has since offered an apology for his comments.

“It was brought to my attention that remarks I made yesterday evening while discussing a proposed rule change were unintentionally hurtful,” Bielema’s statement reads. “My comments were intended to bring awareness to player safety and instead they have caused unintended hurt. I would like to extend my deepest condolences and sympathy to the Agu family, Coach Sonny Dykes and to the University of California family.”

Bielema certainly did not mean to offend anybody with his comments referencing Agu’s passing, but sometimes in the heat of a moment a coach can say something without having much of a filter. Bielema has always spoken freely when asked for his opinions. This is just the latest example of it coming back to bite him. The Razorbacks head coach took plenty of heat for his comment, both in our comment section, on Twitter and from multiple reporters and other members of the media. In an interview with Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, Bielema attempted to explain in more detail what he was trying to say when he brought up the death certificates comment.

“I’m talking about the concussion crisis, sickle cell trait. This one [sickle cell trait] really scares you because you don’t know when it’s coming. The kids have difficulty breathing. They don’t want to come out of practice or the game. All the ones I’ve ever been around, they want to stay in because they don’t want their teammates to think they’re quitting or stopping. What we began to rationalize is that when these players pass when they’re involved in these conditioning drills, they pull themselves out of it or the trainer pulls them out of it because they’re having difficulties. What if you’re in the middle of the third or fourth quarter and you know that the kid standing 15 yards away from you or on the other side of the field has this trait. He’s got this built-in possibility of something happening. Your doctors have told you about it. Your trainers have told you about it. He looks at you through those eyes or maybe the trainer even says, “Hey coach, you need to get him out of there.” And you can’t. You have no timeouts. He’s not going to fake an injury. He’s not going to fall down.”

The defensive substitution rule proposal would prevent an opposing offense from snapping the football for the first ten seconds on the play clock. This allows defenses to substitute players on every play before getting caught in a rushed tempo by the offense. Player safety was one of the primary reasons for the proposal when it was reported, but it is being criticized as an attempt to hurt teams that have found a winning formula with an up-tempo offensive style. It does not seem as though the rule will have enough votes to be passed, but Bielema is going to continue to stand by his opinions anyway.

Whether you agree with him or not, let us just hope Bielema handles arguing his case with some better examples moving forward.