NCF Nation: Ireland

The Nittany Lions landed in Dublin, Ireland on Wednesday in preparation of Saturday’s season opener against Central Florida.

Here’s a look at their time there so far:

 
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Who has the travel plug adapter for James Franklin's goatee clippers? And, oh yeah, how's all that Gatorade getting over to Ireland if customs won't let it on the plane?

Those are both questions that Penn State Nittany Lions' support staff has had to ask itself the past few months in preparation of the season opener against UCF in Dublin, Ireland. (Hell hath no fury like an ungroomed Franklin …) But you can't be blamed if you've gone this past week without wondering about those concerns. After all, besides Penn State's support staff, who really wants to worry about all that anyway?

"The one good thing about the trip," offensive coordinator John Donovan said earlier this week, "is that I have nothing to do with it logistically."

The support staff has attempted to address every little travel loophole and overseas scenario. Even without volcanoes in the picture, it truly is a crazy process. So we checked in with Michael Hazel, director of football operations, and equipment manager Jay Takach for an inside look on some of the odder stuff they're dealing with, along with some of the more interesting notes and numbers:
  • Dude, where's my paper? During most away games, Penn State could just use the printer, fax machine and color copier on site. But … there's no color copier near the team hotel. So, no problem, the Nittany Lions will just lug their own more than 3,000 miles away. And then it can just use the hotel's paper, right? Nope, that'd be way too easy. The staff discovered that paper sizes over there aren't necessarily uniform to the U.S. -- so they also have to take two boxes of paper for coach notes and such. Different paper; who knew?
  • Heavy lifting. Penn State is taking 20,000 pounds worth of equipment and supplies to Ireland. There are more than 9,000 items, more than 500 lines' worth of inventory on Excel, and it all barely fits into a 53-foot tractor trailer. Also, did I mention Penn State is required to list every single item it packs? The Nittany Lions are bringing some small rolls of athletic tape and a couple pencils -- and they have to list and account for them all, or the items won't make the flight as cargo.
  • A well-groomed goatee is a happy goatee. OK, OK – so the goatee isn't at the top of the "travel priorities" list. Probably. But one thing that is: making sure everyone (especially the head coach) has a power adapter and surge protector for their electronics … such as goatee trimmers. Each player and coach room will be situated with one. Lest you think the goatee is mentioned purely in jest, it was suggested to Franklin last month he let his hair/goatee grow out for a few days. Immediately afterward, it looked as if he just bit into a lemon. Said Hazel: "I'm not responsible for shaving his head, but I want to make sure he's got the power he needs."
  • You can't take what on the plane? Lithium batteries for cameras and training devices, Gatorade and air horns. For varying reasons, they're just not cleared for travel to Ireland. Outside of creating another headache – and probably increasing the amount of Advil listed on the travel carnet – these items luckily weren't too difficult to procure overseas. Penn State has a liaison in Dublin who purchased air horns along with some other items, and Gatorade was already shipped over to the Emerald Isle. "We got a guy," Takach said.
  • Interesting solutions to interesting problems. Something is bound to fall through the cracks and, on Wednesday, Takach said an issue or two still remained. For one, the team has been practicing in 75-80 degree weather recently -- but it could be around 50 degrees in Ireland. So the Lions might need some long-sleeve shirts, but that clothing wasn't included on the travel carnet. If it's not on the list, it's not allowed on the plane. Tackach's workaround? "I've got to pack some of that as personal," he said. "I'm going to have like three or four bags where I'm like, 'Oh, no, this is all my clothing.'"

Aviva Stadium to host Navy-Notre Dame

September, 21, 2010
9/21/10
11:35
AM ET
When Notre Dame and Navy play in Dublin, Ireland, in 2012, they will do it in a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium.

[+] EnlargeAviva Stadium
Aviva StadiumNotre Dame and Navy will play in Aviva Stadium when they meet during the 2012 season.
Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said Tuesday that the game would be held at Aviva Stadium, home to the Irish rugby union team and the Irish national soccer team. The stadium, which opened this past May, seats about 50,000 people. All of the seats are covered by a steel roof that is in the shape of a wave, reminiscent of the main Olympic stadium in Beijing.

“To see this stadium is to believe it has to be one of the finest venues in the world,” Gladchuk said in a news release. “Although modest in capacity, few stadiums anywhere have attended to the detail, aesthetics and fan comfort found at Aviva. I guarantee those who travel to Ireland and attend this event will enjoy an experience that will be awesome and a memory not to be forgotten. Navy is very much looking forward to our visit and the wonderful experience we expect our coaches, players, fans and friends will enjoy.”

The two teams last played in Ireland in 1996. The 2012 game is scheduled for Sept. 1. This year's game is set for Oct. 23 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

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