Dienhart: Potential PSU game in Ireland 'brilliant idea'

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien recently mentioned that playing a game in Ireland is in the works for his program. It’s a brilliant idea.

With the Nittany Lions shackled by NCAA probation that includes a postseason ban for the next three seasons, scheduling an exotic trip like this would serve as a de facto bowl. It also would allow the school to thumb its nose at the NCAA, whose harsh sanctions have been widely criticized as too harsh by many inside and outside of the program.

Truth be told, a game in a locale like Ireland would be better than almost any bowl. Think about it: Would you rather play a regular-season game in bucolic and lush Ireland, which is steeped in culture or history, or a bowl game in say, Mobile, Ala., Shreveport, La., or El Paso, Texas?

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

C’mon on, it’s not even close. They probably don’t even serve Guinness in Albuquerque, N.M., home of the iconic New Mexico Bowl. If they do, you know it’s flat.

O’Brien also could use the trip as a recruiting tool to entice recruits to sign. The pitch: Come play for Penn State and see the world. It’s a stroke of genius to help get the program over this rough period.

If Penn State needs advice about playing overseas, it can consult with Notre Dame, which has played games in Ireland twice including this past season, when the Irish downed Navy, 50-10, in Dublin. ND also played Navy in Ireland in 1996.

If I am the Nittany Lions brass, I would try to schedule some sort of exotic trip like this each of the next three seasons until the bowl ban is lifted for the 2016 season.

Some other possible destinations include Tokyo or China. But I wouldn’t just think globally. I’d also think domestically: How about a late-season game in tropical Hawaii? Or, how about a November tilt vs., say, Indiana in Yankee Stadium?

You think that would sell out in a heartbeat?

So, think big, Penn State, seize this opportunity to market your school and team—while also rewarding the fans and players with a fun trip during these tough times.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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5 Comments

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c. klasic on 2/12/2013 @ 1:07pm EDT Said:

I agree. As a PSU fan, I’d much rather spend the $$ going to Ireland or Hawaii or even NYC compared to another trip to Florida or Texas. How many times can you go to Orlando or Tampa anyway? And Texas is just not that exciting. PSU fans would flock to these games. A no-brainer in my book.

Mike King on 2/12/2013 @ 1:48pm EDT Said:

Going to Ireland would be a horrible mistake for Penn State. Pedophilia by priest is still a huge story Ireland, one which has dramtically changed Irish culture. The football team would be hounded with questions about Jerry Sandusky and the wound be re-opened.

Our Life In 3D on 2/12/2013 @ 7:26pm EDT Said:

I love the idea Tom. I’m in! I love another reason to visit Ireland. Please keep us out of Staters in formed.

LondonPSUFan on 2/13/2013 @ 6:30am EDT Said:

Come to London!!

Blaise Collin on 2/16/2013 @ 12:31pm EDT Said:

I emailed Fran Ganter about coming to Paris. This would be such a better idea than Dublin! Think culture and history to se the recruits? Can any town in Europe beat Paris? Not even mentioning romance. Wouldn’t players love to spend a few hours with their girlfriends in Paris? I offered the help of the French football officials, and the football community in Paris. We’d tremendously help. I don’t know why PSU doesn’t take the offer!

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