You can’t believe everything you read online.
Or can you?
The University of Rhode Island football team’s 2013 schedule won’t be released for a couple of months, but based on what team members have been saying on Twitter, the Rams will play one of the most storied programs in all of college football next fall.
But a trip to Happy Valley is far from a certainty.
Reached for confirmation about a possible game at Penn State – which should make the program considerably more than the $150,000 it’s reportedly receiving from a non-conference game with Old Dominion – URI Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn wouldn’t confirm the tweets were correct and said the football schedule as a whole was still in the process of being finalized.
Kirk Diehl, Penn State football’s Director of Operations, said he hadn’t heard anything about the game.
“To the best of my knowledge, nothing is signed or documented,” said Diehl. “No one told me anything like that.”
Messages for Fran Ganter, PSU’s Associate Athletic Director for Football Administration, were not returned as of Tuesday night.
However, URI football coach Joe Trainer said there was a chance the Rams could play the Nittany Lions.
“Like all I-AA teams where you’re into making money, you play a guarantee game,” Trainer said. “The challenge of making a I-A game brings a significant amount of money to the program and that’s something we’re looking at.
“It’s not final now, but there’s a strong possibility.”
On New Year’s Day, starting quarterback Bob Bentsen, defensive lineman Shomari Watts and defensive back Tim Wienclaw all tweeted about playing at Penn State in the fall.
Bentsen’s tweet about the potential Penn State game has since been deleted. Watts, a redshirt junior, in a tweet dated Jan. 1 at 1:19 PM, said (sic) “Goin to happy valley next yr….penn state is on the schedule.” That tweet was retweeted by URI backup quarterback Danny Fenyak.
Later that night Wienclaw, a sophomore, tweeted (sic) “Playing Penn St next year and BC in 2014 #letsgooo.”
Trainer’s take on the tweets was fairly simple.
“It’s hard to control,” he said, “but the information didn’t come from me.”
The Rams already have one FBS school on the schedule for next fall in Old Dominion, a former Colonial Athletic Association opponent that will play in Conference USA next fall.
According to Harry Minium of The Virginia-Pilot, URI will make $150,000 for traveling to play the Monarchs in Norfolk, Va..
It would be hard to predict how much the school would receive if a game at Penn State was scheduled, but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine being double, triple or more than what Old Dominion is paying.
Playing these games has become part of college football at the FCS level and there are already reports that URI will play a road game at Boston College next fall.
“[The 2012 season] we had Bowling Green, last year was Syracuse, the year before that was UConn,” Trainer said. “A team like BC, we’re looking to play a game at that level. It’s a pretty significant payday.
“I would imagine if it’s not Penn State [in 2013] it’s probably something along those lines.”
Diehl said as far as he knew Penn State’s 2013 schedule was set even if it hadn’t been finalized. FBS teams are only allowed to play 12 regular-season games; according to various online sites, PSU has eight conference games and already has four non-conference games set – Aug. 31 against Syracuse at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., at home against Eastern Michigan on Sept. 7, home against Virginia Sept. 14 and home against Kent State on Sept. 21.
“There are a lot of variables there … The contracts at that level are more fluid than not,” Trainer said. “A lot of times coaches come in and say listen, we want to exchange an away game for a home game. Even though things can be firm, there’s opportunities to move games and always continue to shuffle.”