Late yesterday 17th of February 2021 it was announced that the Aer Lingus College Football game between Illinois & Nebraska set for Dublin in August, will not be taking place in the Aviva Stadium as planned.
Instead, the game will take place at Memorial Stadium in Champagne, Illinois. The decision to move the game comes as a result of coronavirus concerns.
This is the second fixture in the five game College Football Classic slate to be adversely affected by the pandemic. Last years marquee matchup between Notre Dame and Navy was also postponed due to public health measures.
While organisers are still committed to the original 5 game plan, there are additional costs and risks post covid that may affect this model.
All four Universities scheduled to play in the cancelled fixtures also remain committed to fulfilling these fixtures.
The most disappointing outcome of the news is that it will be at least another year before Corso and Co. of College Gameday grace these shores.
Stay tuned to Gaelic Gridiron for more College Football news.
The final football instalment of Last Chance U arrived on our screens this week, and like any self-respecting football fan I dedicated my evenings to getting acquainted with the latest bunch of misfit players striving to get recruited into a big time college programme.
My expectations for this season were high, perhaps unrealistically so. You can see why Netflix have decided to progress the show onto a different sport – there was just no oomhph. No Fireworks.
Real talk: There was no Buddy Stephens. The show has never been able to recapture the emotional turmoil inflicted by watching the fiery tempered coach go off on his team in Season 1. Yes, it was extreme, but It was effective. And it made for excellent television. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Coach Beam. He seemed to genuinely care about his players, and really wanted to see them succeed. He definitely ranks above Jason “JB” Brown in the hierarchy of LCU coaches.
I liked this season, but I didn’t love it. And I think the reason being is that Last Chance U has deteriorated into a pseudo reality TV show. This affliction started in part 2 of Independence College; players were signing up to play football there with the sole goal of getting on TV and getting noticed. You can’t blame them for this – some Division One coaches (cough Lane Kiffin cough) are notorious for picking up players who feature. But this trend has undoubtedly contributed to the overall feeling of “shtick” I get from the show. The football players are playing up to the camera, and playing down any mistakes they might make. Cornerback Rezjohn White is a prime example of this. While he is unquestionably talented and ended up with scholarship offer to Oregon State, he gave up a couple of big plays and ultimately sat out a large part of the season.
There was one redeeming quality to this season, well technically two. Dior Walker-Scott and Nu’u Taugavau. Honestly these two were the only reason I connected to the show and stuck it out. I was really rooting for these boys to succeed and to make it. They overcame obstacles and adversity with grit and determination and I truly hope they do well at the next level. If you watched the show and weren’t quietly pulling for these two to get recruited then there’s something wrong with you inside.
(Honourable mention to another of the featured players, Wide Receiver RJ Stern. You can understand his frustration at not getting targeted with enough passes, but his constant whining began to grate after a while.)
Overall, it was a refreshing change of pace to get an insight into a substantially different program, in a vastly diverse environment. But having said that, I wouldn’t be in a rush back to Laney College.
Today it was announced that the College Football game between Navy and Notre Dame due to take place in Ireland on August 29th, has officially been cancelled.
There was much speculation in recent weeks that the game would still go ahead despite restrictions on mass public gatherings.
In a statement, Chet Gladchuck, Naval Academy Director of Athletics said: “We are obviously disappointed not to be travelling to Ireland this August, but, as expected, our priority must be ensuring the health and safety of all involved. I am expecting that we will still be able to play Notre Dame as our season opener, but there is still much to be determined by health officials and those that govern college football at large.”
The game is now slated to take place in Annapolis, the home city of the Naval Academy Midshipmen.
The college football game was due to set a new world record, with 40,000 Americans planning on travelling outside of the US for the game, the most to ever do so for a single sporting event.
The 5 Game Aer Lingus College Football Classic Series will now begin in 2021 when the Fighting Illini take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
On Friday evening, Leo Varadkar announced his plan for “reopening Ireland”. From May 18th onwards, there will be the gradual relaxation of the harsh restrictons and the country will slowly return to normal. However, the mass ban on gatherings over 5,000 people still remains in place, until September at the earliest. With the college game here due to take place on August 29th, 2 days before the ban is set to be lifted the fate of the fixture is still very much up in the air.
In a press release sent out early last week, game organisers stated that that they were working hard to ensure the multi million dollar/euro fixture could go ahead with all possible precautions in place.
And you know what, it should one hundred percent still go ahead.
There are so many benefits to this game being played as planned. Let’s for a minute forget the fact that it’s worth millions in tourism and will provide a massive boost the an Irish economy that has suffered deeply as a result of the pandemic. This game is something to look forward to. It’s something to dream about. It’s like a big shining beacon at the end of a very dark tunnel. It gives us a glimmer of hope that one day everything will go back to normal. Or as normal as possible. And its not just American football fans here that are looking forward to it either. Sporting enthusiasts of all codes have embraced our American visitors soon to be annual trip across the pond to play a game of gridiron in the Aviva.
And then there’s the aforementioned issue of money. College football boils down to cold hard cash, and this game is worth a lot of it. Do you really think the event organisers are going to refund all those juicy VIP Travel packages they were selling at $5,000 a pop? No chance. This game also worth several million in TV rights and viewership. There’s simply no way that the organisers, the Unversities and the NCAA ( who ultimately will make the final decision) walk away from that much profit. Even if the game is played elsewhere and not in Ireland, it won’t be anything of the gold mine it would be if it was played on these shores.
Now I hear what you’re all shouting at me through the screen – what about the 40 odd thousand Americans due to travel here for the occasion? America has been one of the hardest hit countries by the pandemic, and letting people travel does seem like a ridiculous idea. But what if those coming here for the game were tested before they were allowed leave the country? In other words, sure you can go to Ireland ,but you have to be tested for coronavirus first. If you get the all clear then you can go. This would be a massive undertaking and would pose a huge logistical challenge. But it’s doable. And by August, I’m hopeful we’ll have the infrastructure in place to have test results back in less than a day which would make this process a whole lot easier.
Even if we have to wear masks and gloves to the game, then so what? It’s better than nothing. If this game proceeds as planned it will be a major indicator that life as we know it is not lost forever. It will give us hope. And hope is what we need most right now.
The Aer Lingus College Football Classic between the University of Notre Dame and the Naval Academy, set to take place on August 29th 2020 is likely to still go ahead according to reports.
In a press release earlier today, it was outlined that the recent ban on mass gatherings here does not apply to this game, and it can go ahead without a license.
However the Universities, the NCAA and the Event Organisers are all still working to ensure that public safety remains paramout and that the game can go ahead while making the health of both spectators and students a priority.
An announcement is expected in mid-June on the specifics of how the game will take place.
College Football makes its long-awaited return to Dublin this August, with the University of Notre Dame squaring off against old rivals Navy. This will be the third time that these sides meet on Irish soil and Notre Dame will be going for the Hat Trick. Back in 1996, Notre Dame cruised to a 50-24 victory over the midshipmen in Croke Park. The Sailors didn’t fare much better the second time around either, suffering a 50-10-point defeat to the Fighting Irish in 2012 at The Aviva Stadium.
But did you know that College Football’s history in Ireland goes as far back as the 1980’s? The first ever college football teams to play here were the Boston College Golden Eagles and the Army Black Knights. The year was 1988, the venue was Lansdowne Road (the Aviva to you Millennials) and Boston College emerged victorious. Just over a year later, there was a second college football game here as The University of Pittsburgh rolled over Rutgers on a score line of 46-29. Both games were known as the Emerald Isle Classic. The men behind these matches were Aidan Prendergast and Jim O’Brien, who were involved with the Irish American Football scene at the time.
The Emerald Isle series was reborn in 2012, as thousands of Americans descended on Dublin. Despite concerns over the time difference, the game was a huge success in terms of ticket sales and viewership back in the States. The third emerald isle classic provided a massive boost to the following of American football in Ireland. People who would have had a passing knowledge or interest in the sport got to watch a game up close and live for the first time. And not just any old game but two of Americans top college football programmes. The positive effects of the 2012 game (including of course the massive cash influx to Dublin from tourism) inspired two further college football games in Dublin, taking place in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
2 years after Notre Dame sank Navy on Dublin’s South Side, Penn State University took on the University of Central Florida at GAA headquarters in what was dubbed the “Croke Park Classic”. Despite the lack of an Irish connection, there was still a fantastic hype and atmosphere to the proceedings. Penn State emerged victorious on the day, stealing the win from UCF with a last second field goal. The overall reception to the match up was positive, with the Penn State cheerleaders being a high point.
The most recent iteration of a college football game in Ireland took place in 2016, with two lesser known teams taking the stage. Boston College returned to Irish shores to face off against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Without the name recognition of Notre Dame or Penn State, the “Aer Lingus College Football Classic” suffered a poorer attendance than its predecessors. It also suffered inclement weather, resulting in a low scoring 17-14 victory for BC.
Ireland’s status as the official home of college football in Europe was cemented in October of 2018, when it was announced that there would be no less than five games taking place here over 5 years beginning in 2020. Two of those slots have already been determined: Notre Dame and Navy in 6 months’ time, followed by the University of Nebraska and the University of Illinois a year later. The latter is an interesting fixture. Neither of these teams boast a huge following outside of their home states, so we could potentially have another low attended game on our hands. A repeat of 2016 is unlikely however, as American Football’s fanbase has increased significantly here in the last 4 years. Regardless of what teams fill the last three spots, a 5-year commitment is sure to put Ireland on the map as College Football’s home from home.
Yesterday it was announced that Big 10 conference rivals University of Nebraska Cornhuskers and University of Illinois Fighting Illini will face off in Dublin in 2021, as the second of five college football games taking place in Ireland over 5 years. For college football aficionados here, this revelation may be slightly lacking in the firepower we expected. While both teams boast historically successful football programs, they do not boast the recent success that previous visitors such as Penn State and Notre Dame do. However, I will say this; When Boston College and Georgia Tech were announced as the 2016 game, I was a little bit underwhelmed. Two fairly average ACC teams didn’t offer a lot to get excited about. But boy was I wrong. Both sides put on a highly competitive performance in subpar conditions and gave native spectators and travelling fans alike a decent show. (still glad I didn’t pay for my tickets though!) So, while the more hardcore Irish college football fan may have been a bit ‘meh’ about yesterday’s announcement, this matchup will be more than satisfactory for the newly initiated and of course, the fans making the trip.
My own blatant college football snobbery aside, this showdown does have the potential to be a half decent game. Nebraska are currently third in the Big 10 West with a record of 4-3, with 2 of those losses coming against ranked opponents Minnesota and Ohio State. Their 2019 meeting with Illinois ended in a 42-38 victory for the ‘Huskers and pending the result of next years game, the 2021 edition could be a particularly fiery addition to the series!
The Fighting Illini have not faired as well so far this season, and currently sit at 2-4 overall. But perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Fighting Illini program is the man at the helm: none other than Lovie Smith. The former NFL head coach took over in 2016, and now in his 3rd season has given the Illinois football program a much needed boost. If Smith can continue to improve the previously beleaguered football team then this 2021 encounter could just be one of the Big 10’s Games of the Season!
College Football star power aside, the 2021 College Football Classic features two decent enough teams to inspire faith that the plan to bring 5 games to Ireland in 5 years hasn’t overreached it’s ambition. These are two sides that have never played here, who will bring with them two sets of fans and alumni that quite likely have never set foot on our little island before. And that is the real goal of this game and all the games to come. To put Ireland on the map as an International home for College Football.
College Ball is finally back! With 5 college football games taking place in Ireland from 2020 onwards, now is the time to immerse yourself in NCAA action. It is now easier than ever to watch college football in Ireland, and we’ve complied a list of how you can get your college ball fix every weekend!
BT Sports ESPN
Remember the good old days of ESPN America on Sky Sports? 12 glorious hours of uninterrupted College Football, book ended by College Game Day. Well those days are sadly over and now if you want to watch football on your TV, you’re going to have to pay up. Fortunately, BT Sports college football offering is quite decent and they will normally have the marquee match ups, as well as Bowl games, Playoffs and the National Championship Game!
The official ESPN player is essentially the College Football Version of Game Pass and gives you access to pretty much any game that ESPN has the broadcast rights for. With the ESPN player you can stream all kinds of American College sports as well as watching highlights and getting full game recaps. The ESPN player is better value if you are a fan of College Football rather than one team in particular, as your teams game mightn’t always be shown.
3. Streaming sites
Let me begin here by saying that in no shape or form do we
condone illegal streaming sites. However, needs must and when it comes to
getting your fill of college football, you gotta do what you gotta do! First
Row Sports is our go to for streaming college football games, and if you have
an Android device, apps such as Mobdro should do the trick as well. Streams can
be a bit hit or miss in terms of quality and speed and your patience will
probably be tested.
If you’ve been an American football for one year or ten,
then College Football is definitely worth getting in to. Its popularity is growing exponentially both
here in Ireland and all over Europe. There’s more passion, more atmosphere and
more to lose in College games than there is in the pro’s, and with Ireland
becoming the home of College Football on this side of the Atlantic, there
really isn’t a better time than now to get involved!
The College Football season is just around the corner and
with 5 games taking place in Ireland over the next few years, now is the
perfect time to choose a college football team to follow!
The question is, what college team is the best one to
follow? Well, that depends. There are a number of important factors to consider
when selecting your college football team. Firstly and most importantly, can
they win? Let’s face it, there’s no point in staying up till 3 am every Sunday
morning to watch your team lose. If you’re going to sacrifice sleep to watch
football, it has to be worth it. Secondly, does that team have a good
reputation? If the coach is being investigated for something sketchy or
underhand then maybe it isn’t the best idea to start supporting them. And
finally – is their jersey nice? As shallow as it might sound, if your going buy
their merch, you have to like how it looks.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the
best college football teams to jump onboard with right now.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are without a doubt the best pound for pound college football team over the past 10 years. In the past 5 years alone they have appeared in 4 National Championship games, winning two of those. They always recruit the top players and have an evil genius as their coach. So if you want a team that wins, go with Bama! Although everyone will probably hate you for it.
Clemson football are destined to be the next number one team in America, a fate they sealed by hammering their rivals Alabama in this years Championship game. The Tigers have a cool Coach, a monstrous Defensive Line and a Quarterback that will be playing on Sundays in the next two years. This is a bandwagon you definitely want to jump on!
3. Notre Dame
I’ll try to be as unbiased here as possible – but for me when I first got into college football, following the “Fighting Irish” was a no brainer! Not only are they once again emerging as a perennial contender for the national championship, but their mascot is a fecking Leprechaun! And if you find the Irish shtick to be offensive, then you don’t have any sense of humour. Notre Dame are on the come up in a big way and once their recruiting improves, expect them to be in the final on a regular basis.
While they mightn’t have won much in recent years, the
combination of ever changing uniforms and their adorable Duck mascot makes Oregon
a solid team to support. Oregon’s jersey’s are produced by Nike and are usually
pretty slick. They also occasionally produce talented footballers. For example,
you may have heard of a guy called Marcus Mariota? The Ducks have been down on
their luck in recent years but don’t be surprised if they splash back onto the
scene this season.
“And there’s a magic in the sound of their name…Here come the Irish of Notre Dame…”
As these words rang out around Notre Dame Stadium and segued into “Shipping up to Boston”, a wave of chills ran through me. I was finally here. From the first time I watched Notre Dame play in their home stadium on TV, I had set my sights on making it to a game. And there was the band, there was the leprechaun, and there were the players. They were even wearing green to welcome their biggest Irish fan! (Not really, but still a cool coincidence) Justin Yoon sent the kickoff flying and Notre Dame stadium echoed with the roar of “GO! IRISH!” But how the hell did I end up here?
I had arrived on the South Bend campus earlier that day and caught my first glimpse of the Golden Dome glinting in the distance. As I wandered around the grounds of the university, jaw ajar in sheer awe of the place, the craziness of the past two days began to pay off. On Wednesday evening of last week, I got a message from Notre Dame Athletics on Facebook telling me I’d won two tickets to the game that weekend. I had previously entered their competitions and had claimed that if I ever won tickets I’d fly out for the game…and now they were calling my bluff. My hands were shaking so hard that I could barely type as I furiously searched for the cheapest possible flight. It did strike me that what I was about to do was insane. I also realised that if I didn’t go, I would always regret it. Life comes down to a few moments. This was one of them.
I was initially greeted in South Bend by sub zero temperatures and more than enough snow. Luckily I had been forewarned of the inclement weather and was well wrapped up… apart from my feet which were beginning to feel like blocks of ice. The solution? Head to the Irish bar! This is exactly what I did, and after asking a local for directions, I ended up getting a lift in his golf cart. Happy days! The patrons in the bar got a great kick out of the fact that I had traveled three and half thousand miles on less than forty eight hours notice to see Notre Dame play at home. I was later greeted by a great friend of mine, James O’Toole. I hadn’t seen James since the last time I went to game three years previously, and when I found out I’d won he was the first person I called. It was fantastic to catch up.
As evening fell we made our way back to the campus to collect the tickets, and I got to meet legendary Coach Knute Rockne(In statue form, anyway) There was a buzz in the air as tailgaters took their revelry from the the parking lot into the stadium. It was somehow even colder in there than it had been outside. But once the ball was kicked off, I forgot all about being cold. The Irish dominated all game. I had flown across the Atlantic to witness potential national champions at work, and they did not disappoint.
As I write this I am still having trouble accepting that it happened. It was like being in a dream. A dream that came true. And I will definitely be back.