Scandal-ridden Penn State and the University of Central Florida who have a controversial coach are working at closing a deal to open the 2014 college football season in Dublin, Ireland.
The game would be played on Saturday August 30th 2014 and would be a UCF home game according to the Orlando Sentinel.
A source told the Sentinel the schools were still trying to nail down a venue in Ireland, which would be either Croke Park or the Aviva Stadium where the Notre Dame/Navy game took place last year.
Both teams have Irish American coaches, Bill O’Brien at Penn State and George O’Leary at UCF.
’Leary briefly coached Notre Dame in 2001 before he was fired after it was revealed he had misrepresented his college record on his resume. Earlier in his career O’Brien coached for O’Leary and considers him a mentor.
O’Brien has pulled off a remarkable turnaround for Penn State, one of the great college football programs, after the Jerry Sandusky pedophile scandal and the involvement of legendary coach Joe Paterno in the alleged cover-up threatened to destroy the program. He has quickly become a hugely popular figure in Happy Valley.
He was formerly quarterback coach with the New England Patriots.
Similarly O’Leary, who is 66-years-old and a New York native, had a legendary career at Georgia State and started off with UCF in 2004 when they went 0-11 his first year. The following year they played in a bowl game one of the best turnarounds in college football history. The team is now usually ranked in the AP Top 25.
O’Leary was in deeper controversy when a player on his team died during training. On March 18, 2008, running back Ereck Plancher died after conditioning drills. According to four UCF football players interviewed by the Orlando Sentinel, O'Leary verbally abused Plancher throughout the workout, and continued to push the young man to perform despite what they reported to be obvious physical signs that Plancher was in no shape to continue Plancher collapsed shortly after the workout and died. His parents won a $10 million lawsuit against the college
A Penn State game in Ireland is bound to rake up the pedophile issue in a country where it is already a massive story. The Jerry Sandusky episodes have been widely reported there and it is certain to be a major focus when and if the game is played.
O’Brien is already on the record as favoring a game in Dublin. "We are definitely looking into playing in Ireland, no question about it,'' O'Brien told State College News.
"We don't have an agreement with Penn State so I am not able to comment," David Hansen, UCF's Sr.
Associate AD for Internal Operations, said in an email. "We will certainly release a statement once/if we get there with PSU."
Because they are banned from bowl games for four years Penn State is anxious to give their student athletes a bowl game atmosphere which is what they believe Dublin would provide.
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