Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien has been hinting that a game in Ireland is becoming more of a reality than a pipe dream. On Friday the Orlando Sentinel reported that Central Florida could be lined up as a cross-Atlantic opponent, and it could be happening in 2014.
“We have talked to them about being a potential opponent, but we are far from an agreement,” said David Hansen, UCF senior associate athletics director for internal operations in the report by the Orlando Sentinel. “Logistically, it’s not easy.”
If the game were to take place in the opening week of the season, then both schools would have to do some reworking of the 2014 schedules.
Penn State is currently scheduled to open the 2014 season at home against Temple. Central Florida is currently scheduled to start the season at home against Florida International.
O'Brien said this week in Philadelphia, as his coaches caravan tour got underway, that Penn State was getting closer to organizing a game in Ireland.
"We're getting real close I think," O'Brien said when asked about the updated status of the game.
He would not get much further into detail than that, other than to tell another local reporter that it would happen much sooner than that reporter's retirement.
The two schools will meet in the 2013 season, with Central Florida making the trip to Beaver Stadium on September 14. The game is the first part of a two-game deal originally set-up as a home-and-home.
But, Penn State's apparent goal of playing a game in Ireland could have a greater impact than a road trip to Orlando. If Central Florida is willing to give up a home game against Penn State, this would be the best alternative for the Golden Knights. Penn State was originally scheduled to make the return trip to Orlando in 2014 but the contract had an option to reschedule the game for 2015 if circumstances came up for 2014.
Hypothetically, the home-and-home series could still be kept in place and the potential Ireland trip could be added as a third game to the series.
Both schools currently have a schedule vacancy in 2015.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Penn State and Central Florida are looking to play the neutral site game in Aviva Stadium or Croke Park in Dublin. Last year's season opener between Notre Dame and Navy took place in Aviva Stadium with a crowd of 48,820.
Fans also should not be surprised that Central Florida is being lined up as a potential overseas partner for Penn State.
I previously suggested Central Florida could be a viable partner based on the idea that Penn State wants to get this game done sooner rather than later, and the Golden Knights seemed like a program likely to listen to the idea.
Quotes obtained first hand in media availabilities unless cited otherwise.