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Loss wins income for Penguins


Published: Sun, September 25, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.


Youngstown State got exactly what it knew it was going to get out of playing the University of Pittsburgh in football: $350,000.
That's the figure the Penguins' athletic department will receive for last Saturday's 41-0 loss to the Panthers and really nothing else.
That means in a couple of years when the Penguins head down to Columbus to play the Ohio State Buckeyes on a similar stage, the only thing they'll gain is about $450,000.
As long as YSU remains a Division I-AA football program, it can expect nothing more than a big payday for playing teams like the Panthers or the Buckeyes.
These are not Mid-American Conference teams, or even Cincinnati or Marshall like the Penguins have played in the past. These are Division I-A BCS teams, and even the bad ones are going to take it to the Penguins.
Pitt is not a great football team; it might be pushing it to call the Panthers good. But they were still head-over-heels better than Youngstown State.
And the Penguins are not alone.
Just look at the other Gateway teams that have played major college powers. In most cases, the results are similar to what happened to the Penguins against Pitt.
Why? That's easy.
Start with 25 more full athletic scholarships and then add about $5 million to $8 million more for the football budget. It's easy to see just where it's going to end up.
Top recruitslook elsewhere
The players that teams like Pitt and Ohio State get are really untouchable by teams like YSU.
Take Pitt offensive lineman Mike McGlynn, an Austintown Fitch High graduate. McGlynn is a good Division I-A lineman; he's not great, but he's solid, and he'll have a good career for the Panthers. He talked with Youngstown State when he was still in high school.
"They talked to me, but they knew I was looking to go bigger," he said. "So what they really told me was if things don't work out for you, come back and see us."
Which is about all that YSU can do when it tries to recruit players destined to go to bigger and better programs.
It has worked out in the past for the Penguins getting players who didn't work out at the bigger schools such as Chris Sammarone, J.C. Penney and most recently Louis Irizarry and Miles Williams.
None of those players ever gave YSU a serious thought before things didn't work out at the schools of their choice.
More money gamesare on the way
YSU athletic director Ron Strollo is hoping to get some more of those "money" games in the coming seasons and with the new NCAA 12th game rule, he probably won't have any trouble.
He's already talked to most of the teams in the Big Ten and could have something brewing in the next year or so, but whatever comes out it, money will be the key issue.
OK, you can say that those are games are a great recruiting tool. You tell the players, "Hey, come to YSU because we're going to play Ohio State at the Horseshoe next year."
That's true, but what they don't tell those players is that they're probably also going to get their butts kicked in the process.
Of course, it's also a thrill for these Division I-AA players to get the opportunity to play in the big stadiums before thousands of fans.
But the bottom line is that it's still going to be a loss.
Jim Tressel never believed in going that route when he was with the Penguins. He played the Mid-American Conference schools and even Central Florida with Daunte Culpepper, but he never went after those money games.
Of course, Tressel was also winning national championships, and the stadium was full most of those years.
Football is a great game, especially when it involves two teams who are similar in talent and ability, but nobody likes to go and watch a rout like we saw on Saturday at Pitt.
Maybe that game will help the Penguins in the long run this season, but more than likely it will only help to balance the budget.
XPete Mollica is a sportswriter for The Vindicator. Write him at mollica@vindy.com.


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