James Franklin
James Franklin (BILL KALINA -- bkalina@yorkdispatch.com)

James Franklin said he loves Ireland and is happy that fans will make the trip to Penn State's season-opener in Dublin late this summer. But as coach making his Penn State debut, the prospect of coaching there doesn't thrill him.

"I'm a big fan of the country, and a big fan that our fans are excited about it, but from a coaching perspective, no," Franklin said Wednesday. "Everything we do is about eliminating distractions and having consistency in your routine. I wouldn't necessarily say that flying to another country fits that."

Penn State opens the season Aug. 31 against Central Florida in the Croke Park Classic, a game promoted by former coach Bill O'Brien as a reward for his players. When the game first was proposed in 2012, the Lions were looking at a four-year bowl ban, and this was meant as a substitute.

But O'Brien, now with the Houston Texans, won't coach in the game. And Franklin said the game's logistics and aftermath concern him.

Speaking before the Penn State Coaches Caravan in Bethlehem, Franklin said that the Ireland trip would affect the first two weeks of the team's schedule. The Lions will leave midweek to adjust to the time-zone change and will fly back immediately after the game, scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff in Ireland.

Under Franklin's schedule, the team will practice Sunday (normally a light session) and have off Monday. They will continue that schedule after the Croke Park Classic to begin preparing for the home-opener Sept. 6 against Akron.


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"It's like playing a West Coast game in the NFL on a Monday night, which the fans love and the coaches hate," Franklin said. "The difference is, in the NFL, those guys have more days off and they don't have school. … In the NFL, when they have an extra day off, they spend the entire day sleeping. Our guys won't. They're going to be in calculus."

Franklin said he proposed rescheduling the game to Thursday, Aug 28, but the date was firm. Playing Thursday would have been his ideal situation, giving the team a chance to get back on schedule by Sunday.

Penn State recently sent a group, which included director of football operations Michael Hazel, to Dublin to study the facilities and preparations. Franklin's staff also has been in contact with coaches and trainers from Notre Dame and Navy about their 2013 experience playing in Ireland.

"We're going to be as prepared as we possibly can be," Franklin said. "But, yeah, that's another thing that we're going to have to deal with that's complicated."