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The Univ. of Central Florida has "finalized an agreement to play Penn State in Ireland" next year, and organizers of the football game "will make an official announcement ... on Sunday," according to a source cited by Paul Tenorio of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The game will be played at Dublin's Croke Park, which "has a capacity of 82,300 and is home of the Gaelic Games." UCF officials traveled to Dublin in May "to meet with organizers and finalize the deal." They believe the game will "create buzz both inside the UCF community and nationally" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 7/9). In Pittsburgh, Mark Dent noted the game is "seen as an alternative to a bowl for Penn State," which is not eligible for postseason games the next three years. The possibility of PSU playing in Ireland "was one of the foremost topics on the Penn State coaches caravan in May." Both coaches, UCF's George O'Leary and PSU's Bill O'Brien, "have Irish heritage" (POST-GAZETTE.com, 7/9).
MORE TO COME? In Ireland, Kelly & Blake cited sources as saying that a "'five-year deal' was being put in place" to host other college football games. Those games would be held in '16 and '18 with Notre Dame and Alabama "thought to be amongst those interested in playing here." Notre Dame played Navy in Dublin's Aviva Stadium last year. Croke Park has been mentioned as a possible site for a new bowl game, but it is believed the venue is "more likely to attract regular season games than end-of-season showcases" (THESCORE.ie, 7/9).
Big Ten schools will pay nearly $5M this year "for the right to play FCS opponents at home," according to Jesse Temple of FOXSPORTSWISCONSIN.com. It will cost 10 of the 12 member schools a total of $4.9M to play one home game against an FCS team this season; Michigan and Penn State are the only teams that will not. Ohio State has "agreed to the largest guaranteed payout -- $900,000 -- to host a Sept. 21 game against Florida A&M."BIG TEN PAYOUTS TO FCS SCHOOLS FOR EXTRA HOME GAMES DURING '13 SEASON
BIG TEN TEAM FCS TEAM DATE PAYOUT Ohio State Florida A&M Sept. 21 $900,000 Michigan State Youngstown State Sept. 14 $650,000 Wisconsin Tennessee Tech Sept. 7 $500,000 Iowa Missouri State Sept. 7 $475,000 Indiana Indiana State Aug. 29 $450,000 Northwestern Maine Sept. 21 $450,000 Purdue Indiana State Sept. 7 $400,000 Nebraska South Dakota State Sept. 21 $395,000 Minnesota Western Illinois Sept. 14 $375,000 Illinois Southern Illinois Aug. 31 $350,000
PAY TO PLAY: OSU is "able to pay more to visiting nonconference teams because of the revenue it generates from ticket sales while playing in the fourth-largest stadium in the country." But all Big Ten teams earn "millions of dollars off an extra home game -- money that easily covers the cost of paying for an FCS opponent." Wisconsin Deputy AD Sean Frazier said that the school makes roughly $2.5M "on ticket sales alone for each non-conference home game." Temple noted the payouts to FCS schools go a "long way toward helping fund their athletic departments," but the "mutually beneficial relationship between Big Ten teams and FCS programs is nearing an unceremonious and contentious end." Big Ten ADs in April agreed to stop scheduling FCS schools beginning in '16. The decision allows for a ninth conference game that could "improve each school's strength of schedule," a key component of the new College Football Playoff. However, part of the "appeal of playing an FCS school, in addition to a potential victory, is that the contract costs substantially less money when compared to that with any FBS program." While Wisconsin will pay Tennessee Tech $500,000, it is giving UMass $900,000 and BYU $1M "for home games this season" (FOXSPORTSWISCONSIN.com, 7/8).
Michigan State plans to allocate about $4M "to its football program from outside the athletic department," according to Chris Solari of the LANSING STATE JOURNAL. MSU BOT Chair Joel Ferguson said of AD Mark Hollis, "He's researched this thing and made a recommendation to the board. We think that recommendation makes a lot of sense, so that's what's going to happen." The university's '13-14 budget includes a $4M increase for athletics spending, a 4.7% increase that "raises the department's overall budget" to $89.1M for the upcoming school year. Ferguson "would not say whether the university's general funds would be used." Ferguson said that the BOT "will not make the decision for what or how the additional funding will be used" (LANSING STATE JOURNAL, 7/9). Hollis yesterday promised that the money "will not come from either the school's general fund or tuition money, nor will it affect the budgets of the Spartans' other 24 varsity programs." Hollis "expects it to come from a combination of licensing rights, concessions income, television revenues and increased donations." Hollis added, "There's no hidden agenda here whatsoever. It's just trying to keep all the balls in the air from the standpoint of being a viable contender in the Big Ten Conference in multiple sports" (LANSING STATE JOURNAL, 7/10).
BLUE IN THE BLACK: In Detroit, Mark Snyder noted Michigan AD Dave Brandon projected an $8.9M surplus as part of the FY '14 budget he brought "to the Board of Regents in June.” That is the total after spending $4.75M on "deferred maintenance on campus projects.” UM with the surplus is “reinvesting in facilities.” There are three projects “ongoing -- painting the stadium, the sports marquee being built on Stadium Drive between Crisler and the Big House and the softball facility” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/6).