After 48,000 fans came out to enjoy Notre Dame’s beatdown of Navy in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium to open the 2012 season, the folks in Ireland will be treated to more American football next year.
Coach Bill O’Brien will officially be leading his Penn State program across the pond to take on Central Florida during the 2014 season. A Tuesday report from the Orlando Sentinel originally broke the story, as well as where it will be played. Instead of Aviva, the Nittany Lions and Knights will be meeting in historic Croke Park, home of the Gaelic Games. The Park boasts a maximum capacity of more than 82,300 people.
Obviously, whether the stadium fills or not remains to be seen, but that is not exactly the point of the game. Both programs are looking to expand their respective brands to the international level, and this contest will provide each the opportunity to do exactly that. That holds especially true for UCF. Having jumped up a level and joined the newly-formed American Athletic Conference, the Knights will be hoping to use this game to begin the climb to the top of its new league – both in the standings and in national stature.
As for Penn State, the heavy sanctions resulting from the Jerry Sandusky scandal has left coach O’Brien looking for unique ways to keep players from transferring, as well as impress new recruits. The promise of taking an international trip to Ireland is something that should be very intriguing to both guys currently on the roster and prep stars.
As for the Irish headed to the event, well, after all the rugby, soccer, Gaelic football and everything else, we’re going to go ahead and assume they’ll be ready to tailgate like champions – even if they may not be totally familiar with the sport itself.
[H/T: CBS Sports]