CHICAGO Penn State ended a grim week by finding a Big Ten ally.
Acting athletic director Dave Joyner said Friday that hes had serious discussions with Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez about adding zing to their regular-season finales. Penn State ends the 2012-16 seasons with Big Ten Leaders Division games against Wisconsin.
Our marketing guys are working with theirs, Joyner said Friday. We are going to have a trophy for the Wisconsin game. Dont know what it is. We have our own inside names. We will figure out what we want to call it.
Joyner said the schools were discussing a trophy game even before the NCAA leveled Penn State with major sanctions. The sanctions didnt silence the discussions.
We are similar backgrounds, blue-collar football schools, Joyner said. Theres a lot of commonality with where Wisconsin comes from and where we come from.
"I think it will make a lot of sense. Its very interesting.
The relationships between the schools turned congenial at the Big Ten media days.
Alvarez, a western Pennsylvania native, has spoken highly of Joyner in media interviews, and Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema said Thursday that he will be one of Penn States biggest fans this season. Bielema also said he wont be looking to add any Penn State players to Wisconsins roster.
The trophy game is one of multiple scheduling ideas Joyner has pondered since the NCAA levied major sanctions against Penn State. The sanctions include a four-year bowl ban.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany announced the league will keep an eight-game conference schedule, and Joyner said the decision helps Penn State because it allows room for a home-and-home series or neutral site games. Joyner said he's looking to add high quality non-conference opponents.
Penn States non-conference slots are booked through 2014. Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, Virginia and Kent State are on next years schedule. Penn State plays Temple, Akron, Rutgers and UMass in 2014. Penn State doesnt list the UMass game on its 2014 schedule, but UMass athletic director John McCutcheon announced the 2014 game this past spring.
The bowl ban is lifted in 2016, so Penn State might need to back out of contracts to add glamor non-conference games during the sanction period. Joyner said he doesnt think the sanctions will hurt Penn States scheduling ability.
If I was the athletic director somewhere, I would want to play Penn State more because theres going to be so much more attention, Joyner said.
Penn State senior linebacker Michael Mauti said he doesnt regret any of the comments he made Thursday. Mauti called the NCAAs transfer rules for Penn State players an absolute joke.
Penn State coach Bill OBrien said he didnt hear all of Mautis comments. OBrien added that hes been impressed with his teams leadership this week. Jordan Hill and John Urschel joined Mauti at the Big Ten media days, and senior fullback Michael Zordich helped Mauti read a statement of solidarity on Wednesday morning in State College.
Those guys are examples of why you take a job like this, OBrien said. Those guys are passionate guys, they are intense guys, they care about football, they really care about their teammates. They dont want to hear anymore about the past as it relates to NCAA sanctions and things like that. They want to move forward.
Mauti and OBriens strong personalities are meshing wherever the duo travels.
We attack things in similar ways, OBrien said. Theres a bond there.
Joyner opens up
Some other topics athletic director Dave Joyner addressed in his 30-minute session with reporters:
Joyner said the athletic department has considered altering the Nittany Lion Clubs Seat Transfer Equity Plan for football tickets. The plan, which was designed to generate more revenue, led to a major seat reshuffling at Beaver Stadium.
We will look at everything, Joyner said. We will do whats maybe the best for everybody, the university and fans.
The $60 million fine issued by the NCAA will force the athletic department to find creative ways to generate more revenue, with possibilities ranging from wrestling matches at the Bryce Jordan Center to an outdoor hockey game at Beaver Stadium.
How about a wrestling match at Beaver Stadium? joked Joyner, a former wrestler. We were looking at those kind of things anyway. It makes more sense now.
Joyner reiterated that he will remain in his current position as long as Penn State President Rodney Erickson wants or needs him.
Im here at the behest of Dr. Erickson, Joyner said. As long as he wants me, Im here.
Follow Guy Cipriano @cdtguy on Twitter.