Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 11, 2013

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 senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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