The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Central Florida will play at Penn State this season and host the Nittany Lions in 2014.
There are officially no openings on the Penn State schedule this season, but the paper reports that the UCF game will be on Sept. 14. That date is currently filled by Virginia in a return game for last year's Penn State loss in Charlottesville. But there have been a lot of rumors about the Lions wanting to either cancel or postpone that game against the Cavaliers, and this report offers more proof of that endeavor.
Penn State's schedule is also full in 2014, but includes a nonconference game against Rutgers on Sept. 13. The Scarlet Knights will be a Big Ten member by then, so that will likely become a conference game and get moved to later in the season. However, the Orlando paper reports that the Penn State visit will replace UCF's game against Jacksonville State, currently scheduled for Sept. 20, 2014. The Nittany Lions are to host UMass on that date.
So there could be some more shuffling around on the Penn State schedule. I talked to athletic director Dave Joyner last week, and he told me the school was still interested in arranging either an overseas trip or Hawaii game as a way to reward the team while it remains on probation. But he said that the earliest that could be done was 2015 because of the schedule obligations.
Frank Bodani made a good argument for Penn State dumbing down the schedule for the next couple of years while it endures the brunt of NCAA scholarship reductions. This move doesn't appear to accomplish that aim, as UCF is an improving program that won 10 games last season, compared to Virginia's 4-8 record. If anything, it might be more about personal connections. Nittany Lions coach Bill O’Brien worked for Knights boss George O’Leary at Georgia Tech from 1995-2001, rising from graduate assistant to offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.
Of course, if you want to start your conspiracy theories about this being a sign that Virginia will join the Big Ten, well, I can't tell you to stop.