Former rival added to slate
For Marshall, the game with YSU replaces one with Texas Christian that also was canceled on Sept. 15.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Two factors played a role in Youngstown State adding Marshall to this season's football schedule.
Money and playoff implications.
"We needed an opportunity to play another Division I-A school to make up for the financial loss of losing a game like Toledo," said Youngstown State athletic director Ron Strollo, who finalized the deal with Marshall on Thursday.
Financial factor: Youngstown State was expected to receive between $80,000 and $100,000 for playing Sept. 15 at Toledo, but that game was canceled after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C.
For playing on Nov. 24 at Marshall, in Huntington, W.Va., the Penguins are expected to receive more than $100,000.
The decision on where to play wasn't difficult, because the Mid-American Conference doesn't allow its schools to play at I-AA stadiums, Strollo said.
Ensuring the Penguins have the best opportunity to advance to the playoffs was also on Strollo's agenda during the process.
With Youngstown State having two Div. II opponents on the schedule -- Lock Haven and Clarion -- Strollo knew it was imperative the Penguins add an 11th game, preferably a Div. I school.
Marshall, one of about 15 I-A schools on Strollo's list, was the perfect fit.
"The [I-AA] selection committee really felt that teams needed to go out and aggressively look for an 11th game," Strollo said.
Getting started: When Strollo first received word of the Sept. 15 cancellation, he, sports information director Trevor Parks and other staff members began the search.
"We got on web sites to see who had open dates," Strollo said. "At that point we were dealing with Nov. 10 [the Penguins' open date]."
During the entire search, Youngstown State looked into games against Wisconsin, Army and a make-up with Toledo, Strollo said, but those games fell through.
"When the I-AA group looked to move the championship game back a week, that opened a whole new set of teams," Strollo said. "As we continued our discussions, Marshall popped open."
For the Thundering Herd, the game with Youngstown State replaces one with Texas Christian that also was canceled on Sept. 15.
"We talked with a number of schools about the possibility of playing," Marshall coach Bob Pruett said in a statement, "but the consensus was that Youngstown State would make for the best matchup."
Series history: The Youngstown State-Marshall matchup is well-known. The teams played for the I-AA championship from 1991-93.
The Penguins won 25-17 in '91 and 17-5 in '93. Marshall won 31-28 in '92. The all-time series is tied 4-4-1.
"Even in '94 [YSU's 28-14 national championship win over Boise State], although we didn't play Marshall, we played in Huntington," Strollo said. "Both programs had such respect for each other that it almost turned into a home game for us with the Marshall fans."
While Youngstown State coach Jon Heacock acknowledged his satisfaction in acquiring the 11th game, he avoided any emphasis on it Thursday.
"To be honest with you, I haven't even thought about it," Heacock said. "I'm more concerned about our game [Saturday against Western Illinois] and the Gateway Conference."
The time of Youngstown State's game at Marshall has yet to be determined.