By Joe Scalzo
Next fall, the Youngstown State football team won’t have to wait long to find out if it’s good enough to make the playoffs.
The Penguins begin the season at Pitt on Sept. 1 — the eighth straight year they’ve played a BCS-member school. YSU then hosts Valparaiso before beginning a three-game stretch against FCS playoff teams.
That stretch begins with a home game against Albany, a partial-scholarship team that went 8-4 this year, sharing the Northeast Conference crown before falling to Stony Brook, 31-28, in the first round of the playoffs.
From there, YSU opens Missouri Valley Football Conference play at home against perennial power Northern Iowa, which has won 11 straight against the Penguins, followed by a bye week.
Thanks to MVFC expansion, YSU will then play at North Dakota State for the second straight year. Both UNI and NDSU are still alive in the FCS quarterfinals.
The addition of South Dakota means YSU will play every league team but Missouri State in 2012 and 2013. The rest of the 2012 schedule looks like this: at Illinois State (Oct. 13), vs. Southern Illinois (Oct. 20), at South Dakota State (Oct. 27), vs. South Dakota (Nov. 3), at Western Illinois (Nov. 10), vs. Indiana State (Nov. 17).
Wolford refutes rumors
There are have been rumors over the past two weeks that YSU coach Eric Wolford has applied to be an offensive line coach for new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and that he was a candidate for the vacant head coaching position at Akron.
Both false, Wolford said Monday.
“I took the YSU job because it was an opportunity to be a head coach and an opportunity to restore the program and get back to being in the playoffs and winning championships and all the things we set out to do,” said Wolford, who is 9-13 in two years at YSU. “I’m committed to being here.”
Wolford spent most of his career as an offensive line coach, leaving that position at South Carolina in December 2009 for YSU.
Wolford was recruiting in Florida on Monday and will be in California today. The Penguins have already secured 10 verbal commitments.
“We’ve done very well in recruiting and hopefully that will continue,” Wolford said.
“I think a lot of people are recognizing that we have a good, young football team. We just need to recruit players who are better than the ones we signed the year before and continue to push forward and do things the right way.”