Could Penn State follow in the footsteps of Notre Dame and Navy by playing a game in Ireland?
There is talk that the Penn State Nittany Lions could schedule a non conference game in Ireland as early as the 2014 season. Without the opportunity to play in a bowl game for the next three years, this is a great idea because it would give players and fans something new to get excited about.
Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has been open about wishing to get a game scheduled for the Nittany Lions in Ireland. Adam Rittenberg of ESPN notes that when asked about it, O'Brien made his position clear, "We're definitely exploring it and trying to be aggressive about it."
The groundwork for such a game to happen in college football is already in place. Notre Dame opened the 2012 season against Navy in the Emerald Isle Classic. The game took place at Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
To a Nittany Lions team that is still ineligible for postseason play, a special game in another country could be a big deal. The team would gain international exposure and the game could garner a lot of attention nationally depending on the opponent.
Perhaps most importantly, the trip could be used by O'Brien as a tool in recruiting. Being able to pitch a game and a mini-vacation in Ireland is something that Penn State would have over most other schools.
It seems that the Nittany Lions are all for playing the game. The biggest issue could be finding an opponent. The opposing school would have to be able to take on the financial burden of travel and obviously have an open date in their schedule.
Ben Jones, of statecollege.com took at look a several schools that would make a good opponent for the Nittany Lions across the pond. Notre Dame, Boston College and Texas are some of the schools that Jones think would make sense for the game.
If the Nittany Lions are able to work out the game, there are sure to be those who will point to the fact that there could be some negative aspects to the game.
The cost to get the team over there would be enormous, but nothing that a school of Penn State's size couldn't handle.
One may also worry that the trip would be too costly for alumni and fans to make. While true, there's no doubt that plenty Penn State fans looking for something to get excited about would find a way to attend.
Depending on when the game is scheduled, the team's practice and preparation for the rest of the season could be affected. The players will need enough time to recover from the travel time before getting into the Big Ten schedule.
As long as it's in the first week or two of the season, that shouldn't be an issue.
Despite what naysayers could list as reasons not to play the game, the positives outweigh the negatives.
The Penn State football program could benefit greatly from playing a non conference game in Ireland.