DUBLIN, Ireland – My college football season begins Friday night. At least that's the plan.
Yes, those are two Division III schools. Yes, they are two Catholic institutions. Yes, the game is more unlikely than Notre Dame-Navy.
And, no, a fight won't break out.
Playing in Donnybrook Stadium sounds like the Irish version of a Raiders game. Brass knuckles optional. I'm told it is a bit more sedate. Being a college football junkie, why not spend a Friday night watching D-III football? St. Norbert (the Green Knights) is located in De Pere, Wis. The school was founded by an order that traces its roots back to 1121. Norbert of Xanten believed in “radical hospitality.”
Perfect for Dublin. Pass me another one, brother.
John Carroll (the Blue Streaks) is Jesuit school situated in suburban Cleveland. Give you a Euro if you know the name of the stadium. (Answer below).
*How they see us: (excerpts from Emerald Isle Classic special section in the Irish Times.)
--"Notre Dame are a somewhat faded power these days, a distance removed from the Fighting Irish powerhouse of yore."
--"The (Notre Dame) schedule has not been kind, pitting (Brian) Kelly's team against five of the top 20 teams in the country, so it's vital to them that they begin putting Navy to the sword."
--On Notre Dame "quarter-back" Everett Golson: "Golson has been a coming man for a couple of seasons. He won a state championship with the Mertyle <their spelling> Beach Seahawks in 2010."
*A friend of mine dropped into one of the local betting parlors in downtown Sandymount, Hackett's Bookmakers.
He was curious if he could get odds on American football. The question should have been what American football couldn't he get odds on. The cashier -- or whatever they call them --immediately made a call and found that Notre Dame was a 15-point favorite (they're 16.5 in Vegas).
The chap revealed a screen that included every possible bet on the first week of the NFL.
That's really offshore betting.
*Turns out, almost a fifth (ok, 16.7 percent) of the BCS leadership is in Dublin this weekend.
Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick you knew about. But guess who I ran into on Friday? None other than Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson. He had this holiday -- that's how they say in the UK -- scheduled with friends for a while.
First words out of his mouth: "Middle Tennessee lost to McNeese State last night."
*The woman on the other end of the line was confirming an appearance on the BBC tonight. They want to know how a Yank in Dublin this weekend views the experience. We chatted a bit and I told her that I had been to London.
“I looked at your twitter feed and noticed you were from Overland Park, Kansas,” she said. “I was there about 10 years ago for a wedding.”
Small world. How many Londoners have ever been to Kansas and why?
Anyway, I'm on at 10:45 pm Friday night. You should be able to listen here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radioulster/
*Had plaice http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/462696/plaice last night. It was wonderful.
*Never saw this in the States: Guinness apparently has a “quality team.” At least there is a van parked outside the hotel stating that fact.
“Going further in partnership with your local publican to present the perfect pint.”
Can't think of ever seeing that on the side of a Bud Light truck.
*Answer: Don Shula Stadium. Yes, he's a John Carroll alum.