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Strollo looking for I-AA games



Published: Mon, September 17, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Ron Strollo, the director of intercollegiate athletics at Youngstown State, is getting his first taste of schedule making as he begins to line up the 2002 football slate.

Strollo doesn't like the taste he's getting.

"It's been unbelievable ... no, that's not even the word to use," he said. "I don't even want to talk about it."

Strollo, like everyone else, hears all the talk about why the Penguins annually play one or two Division II schools that aren't that much competition.

"It's not about who we want to play, but more so, who wants to play us," Strollo said. "I can't even get some schools to return my calls."

According to Strollo it's going to get worse.

Requirement: Starting with the 2004 football season, the NCAA will require all Division I-A teams to play at least five home games against I-A opponents.

That is going to take a big hit in the Mid-American Conference, where the Penguins have been able to find their only I-A opposition in recent years.

Currently the MAC teams, like Kent State and Akron, play four home and four away games within the conference. They usually play one I-AA team and two money games, like Ohio State, Nebraska or Penn State, on the road.

The MAC schools are not going to give up the money games for sure, so that would only mean they give up the I-AA opponent, once they have to schedule five home I-A opponents. And the door would probably be closed on the Penguins.

Availability: Of course if this happens all around the country, and I'm sure it will, that should mean that more I-AA teams will become available and in need of games.

Strollo would just as soon play Stephen F. Austin or McNeese State or Florida A & amp;M as much as Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan or even Toledo.

I'd still like to find some way to keep Kent State or even get Akron back on the books.

Anyway the "exhibition" season is over for the Penguins. Saturday's cancellation against Toledo was disappointing, but appropriate under the circumstances, and it won't be made up.

Coming up: Now for the next seven weeks the Penguins can devote their full concentration to the Gateway Football Conference, and first up is defending champion Western Illinois on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.

The Penguins have lost three of the last four meetings with Western Illinois. The only win came in 1999 at Stambaugh Stadium, 28-24.

Western had it's game with Indiana State postponed last Saturday and since that is a conference game, it will almost certainly have to be made up, but the question is when. Western already had its open date the second week of the season and has games scheduled all the way through until the first week of the playoffs.

Open date: The Penguins are open on the 11th week, and might try to find an opponent to make up for the loss of Toledo. It would be nice to find somebody willing to come here, which would make eight home games this season.

YSU coach Jon Heacock has said that he's made a decision about whether to red-shirt some of his freshman players this season.

"We are pretty much planning on red-shirting just about all of our freshmen," Heacock said.

Included in that group are quarterback prospect Aaron Marshall, Poland defensive back Pete Perry, Niles McKinley tackle Tony Limongi and defensive back Matt Estes, Ursuline tackle John Bartos and a few others.

"We just feel that they will all benefit from another year of eligibility and can continue to help us get ready each week this season from our scout squad," Heacock added.

XPete Mollica covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write him at mollica@vindy.com.




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