Rumors say Penn State officials are exploring the possibility of playing a regular season game in Ireland.
Such a game would be a recruiting tool for coach Bill O’Brien as well as a way of replacing a bowl trip for fans and players during NCAA sanctions.
But the right fit for such a venture?
Look, first, to the 2014 schedule.
The timing would be right, considering the logistics and the expense. An announcement this spring or early summer would give the universities involved and their fans more than a year to prepare.
It also would give the Nittany Lion coaching staff an entire recruiting cycle to truly promote the game to high school prospects.
Here are some of the possible requirements to pull this off:
The opponent needs name recognition and preferably an East Coast location for travel ease. And it needs to be a definitive underdog. The Lions do not want to travel all the way to Ireland to lose.
It also should replace a road game. It seems unlikely Penn State would give up the revenue from a home game.
And it almost seems imperative as the opening game of a season, just like Notre Dame and Navy did last year in Dublin. Jet lag and travel fatigue, as well as complicated logistics of traveling to another country, make it difficult to sandwich this game between two others.
So, with all of that in mind .¤.¤. the true possibilities, actually, seem limited.
We’re going with Penn State vs. Army in Dublin on Aug. 30, 2014.
A quick look at scheduling provides the best answers.
Penn State already must replace a road game at Rutgers that season because the Scarlet Knights will be a conference matchup at that point.
PSU officials could reach out to Navy. But the Midshipmen already have a huge non-conference game with Ohio State scheduled for Aug. 30, 2014.
Army, however, has a bye week to start that season. That means the Cadets would simply have to find a road opponent willing to push back or cancel a trip, such as Yale, Kent State or Western Kentucky, to stay at 12 games.
Then look at Penn State’s schedule. The Lions are slated to open the 2014 season at home against Temple and could possibly move the Owls to Sept. 13, the slot vacated by the re-scheduled Rutgers game.
Temple does not have an opponent yet for Sept. 13, 2014.
In the end, this may be one of the only possibilities to make a 2014 Ireland game work the way Penn State desires.
Which means the idea could be pushed back to 2015 — the last year of the bowl game restrictions.
Penn State is scheduled to start 2015 in Philadelphia against Temple. So the backup Ireland plan could be playing the Owls — or a re-scheduled game against Army or Navy — that year.
It would be doubtful for Penn State to schedule such a destination game when they are eligible for a bowl game again in 2016.