Penn State is still looking to work out a plan to play a game in Ireland in the future. Quite honestly, as one of Irish descent, I love the idea.
Playing a game in Ireland may get overshadowed nationally if the game is played on the opening weekend of the college football season. When huge games are kicking off the season in Atlanta and Arlington, a non-conference tilt on European soil will tend to fly under the radar. Even this past season's match-up between Notre Dame and Navy never really grabbed a national spotlight. The trick is to line up a game that would generate that kind of buzz on a weekend that is largely dominated in the southeast.
But playing in Ireland brings a share of the national spotlight for a program looking to demonstrate good will, and the cultural experience of practicing and playing in Ireland while getting a chance to soak in the culture and environment can be far more rewarding than a postseason bowl game.
Before we get too excited about this potential game, let's keep in mind there is a lot that needs to be done before confirming this type of game is a done deal, and by all accounts Penn State is in the early stages of this discussion. When that game will be played and who they would play are two big questions that need to be pieced together of course, and finding answers for those two could prove to be a difficult task. The NCAA would also have to approve the game.
There are a few factors that must be kept in mind when figuring out when a game in Ireland may be able to be scheduled. If the Big Ten moves to a nine-game conference schedule that will leave just three non-conference games to work with. And what if the Big Ten dares to expand to ten-game conference schedules?
Penn State is currently discussing with Central Florida when a return game to Orlando will be scheduled. If it is scheduled for 2014 that will complete Penn State's non-conference schedule and likely mean any game being played in Ireland may not happen until 2015 at the earliest. Or will it? We'll discuss this in a moment.
Penn State is also looking to reschedule a game with Virginia for a future date. A home game in 2013 was postponed by Virginia and the schools are hoping to have it rescheduled for another date in the future. There is no timetable known for when that game would be moved, but do not expect Penn State to move that game to Ireland. It is not likely Penn State would consider losing a home game to play in Ireland.
So, who might be an option for Penn State to work with in partnering for a game in Ireland? Let's take a look...