Penn State will be under NCAA sanctions until 2016, which includes a probation from playing any type of postseason games during that stretch. However, head coach Bill O’Brien is coming up with other ways to sidestep the sanctions and secure a marque regular season game that would mirror a bowl game atmosphere.
O’Brien recently mentioned that Penn State playing a game in Ireland is in the works for his program and what a fantastic move that would be.
Think about that scenario for a second. Since the Nittany Lions are under the NCAA hammer for the next three seasons, creating an international game is a major recruiting draw and an exciting development for a battered program. The game in Ireland would basically serve as their bowl game and it would actually be even more appealing than a lower-tier bowl game. There’s not much of a comparison between Ireland and a setting like rural Alabama or Mississippi.
The game would be a spectacle for the players in and of itself but it would be an even bigger recruiting tool for potential recruits to come to Happy Valley despite the sanctions. His biggest sell to those potential recruits would be if they come to Penn State, they will be able to travel the world and play in unique locations outside of their normal Saturdays in the Big Ten.
All Penn State has to do to realize the benefits of playing an international game is to look at Notre Dame. Fittingly, the Irish played their season opener in 2012 in Ireland against Navy and it sparked a run to a national championship appearance. More importantly, it was a major recruiting tool to showcase their ability to play in such a big regular season international game.
Will this work the same way for Penn State? Obviously it wouldn’t spark them to a national championship, but scheduling a game in Ireland, and possibly other international locations in the future, would do wonders to heal their school and their fans during such a rocky time.
O’Brien mentioned that this game is in the works, but Penn State should do all it can to see it through to completion.