The University of Akron will be playing some of the most respected and recognizable football programs in the nation in the next four years.
The UA athletic department on Tuesday announced nonconference schedules for 2012 through 2016. Among the highlights are road games against Tennessee, Michigan, Penn State and Notre Dame, as well as a home-and-home series with Pittsburgh.
Rob Ianello, in his second year as coach of the Zips, is optimistic that his program will develop enough to be competitive with these national powers.
“As we continue to get better, which we will and we are, these will be really fun matchups for us as we move forward,” Ianello said Tuesday during his weekly news conference.
The games against Tennessee (2012), Michigan (2013), Penn State (2014) and Notre Dame (2015) will be spread out over the four years.
The series against Pittsburgh will start on the road in 2014 and move to InfoCision Stadium in 2015.
There are also home-and-home series with Conference USA members Marshall, formerly in the Mid-American Conference, and Central Florida.
Ianello likes that some of the major games will be played within a reasonable driving distance from Akron.
“We like the idea of playing these big-venue games in the Midwest where we can bus to as a program and where parents and fans can get to easily,” Ianello said.
The future schedules also include Florida International and Louisiana-Lafayette of the Sun Belt Conference, and NCAA Football Championship Subdivision teams James Madison and Morgan State.
Tom Gaffney can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Zips blog at http://zips.ohio.com.