The long-awaited announcement to confirm Penn State will play a game in Ireland could just be days away, perhaps as early as Sunday. The Irish Times reported Tuesday that Croke Park will be hosting a game in 2014, mentioning that details are expected in the coming days. According to the report, Penn State and Central Florida will take part in that overseas game.
Penn State and Central Florida have long been tied to the rumors of a game across the Atlantic Ocean. As soon as the NCAA sanctions were levied against Penn State, head coach Bill O'Brien made a point to suggest the school would do every thing they could to schedule games his players would get excited for in the absence of a potential bowl game. O'Brien had mentioned the possibility of playing Hawaii and big time programs and has been consistent on suggesting a game in Ireland, or across the Atlantic Ocean, was a real possibility without ever hinting at the particular details. In the spring, on a bus caravan tour, O'Brien suggested an Ireland game would be put together sooner rather than later.
Neither school has officially commented on the proposed Ireland game other than to say no comments are made on games until details are finalized. Both schools are under contract for a future game in 2014 or 2015, but a definitive date was never confirmed. Penn State will host Central Florida in Beaver Stadium on September 14. Central Florida replaces Virginia, who was originally scheduled for the return trip in a home-and-home series. That game was scratched from the schedule, with Virginia setting up a game with Oregon and Penn State working out a contract with Central Florida.
The original deal with Central Florida was to be a home-and-home series, with Penn State making a trip to Orlando, Florida to play the Golden Knights in 2014 or 2015, but the possibility of playing in Ireland appears to have been one worth exploring for Central Florida. Central Florida would be giving up a marketable home game but the opportunity to play in Ireland brings an extra level of exposure to the school, program and The American.
The game, if indeed all but finalized, will be an attractive addition to Penn State's football schedule although there will have to be some tweaking done to the schedule before this game can become official. Penn State is currently scheduled to open the 2014 season at home against Temple on August 30, 2014. All indications are that a game in Ireland would be played to open the season, meaning Penn State and Temple need to re-work their schedule agreement. Central Florida is scheduled to open the 2014 season against Florida International in Orlando.
One simple solution would be to work out a deal where Temple and FIU face off in week one. Temple and FIU are both scheduled to be road teams, so working out who the home school might be a small concern. But money tends to answer a number of problems. If Temple and FIU can be bought out of their previously scheduled games by Penn State and FIU, the hurdles could become easier to leap moving forward.