But it’s also more than three months away.
While preparatory work on the field for the August 27 game against Northwestern in Dublin won’t begin until late July, much of the behind-the-scenes logistics of moving a college football team across the Atlantic has already been taken care of. . That’s largely because the trip was supposed to happen last season, when NU was scheduled to face Illinois before the pandemic halted those plans and forced a move to Champaign, Illinois.
It’s been almost one year since this trip to Ireland was announced on May 20, 2021.
Since then, Nebraska State football operations director Andrew Sims has been working with a group of dozens to make sure everything at the Huskers is lined up.
“You have a lot of movement, especially since we’re there for days versus just a typical road trip where you get there, you go to the hotel, you sleep, you get up and you go to the stadium,” Sims said. . “So it’s just a bit more moving bits on a daily basis.
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There’s nothing automated about hauling a soccer team and its equipment 4,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean for what in many ways would look like a ball ride. The Huskers will spend five days in Ireland; That means multiple days of practice, multiple days of team meals and multiple days of everything else that comes with Division I football road trips.
And it’s not like you can just load the ban sled on board.
“Especially on the equipment side and nutrition and sports medicine stuff — it’s all complicated by habits, what you can and can’t get in and out of different countries,” Sims said. “(And so it becomes) what we can order there, and what we have to adjust while we’re there. That’s a lot more difficult.”
Usually Nebraska can pack just what it needs for a local trip in its equipment truck trailer and have Selden Trucking deliver the goods to Michigan, Illinois, or anywhere else the Big Ten NU schedule might send.
But the troublesome surroundings are a problem this time around, as is going through customs, where some drugs and nutritional supplements used by the soccer team may not be allowed without a second thought in the United States or even abroad.
“Traveling here on a normal weekend, we’re doing a very smooth operation. A lot of that is because we have an equipment truck. You can just throw whatever you want in there which is fine,” Sims said. “Some of those things you don’t think about, and you kind of take for granted. Now we have to list every pair of socks that are going, or can be returned.”
The easiest part of the whole trip, at least from a logistical point of view? Nebraska will fly direct from Lincoln to Dublin. The aircraft will be supplied by Irish airline Aer Lingus, the game’s main sponsor. And because the length of Lincoln’s main runway supports larger planes, the Huskers don’t have to worry about driving to Omaha or connecting to a major hub.
Once on board, the Sims travel group expects to settle at around 275 to 280 people who can settle in for a flight of about eight hours.
Sims, in his third year in Nebraska, twice went to Dublin to help lay the foundation. Sims, AD Associate for Equipment Operations, Jay Terry and AD Executive Partner for Facilities Bob Burton all made the trip twice, in fact, to make sure things were in order.
The most recent flight came in the last few weeks and has included a few additional staff to improve various aspects of the trip.
“The time difference is six hours, it’s the first week of classes, there are certain things we have to build there for academic periods; you just have to arrange them at certain times. Especially when you leave the hotel,” Sims said.
NU will be staying on a country estate near Dublin, which means when the Huskers go into town, they probably won’t be back for a while.
“It’s hard for me to go back and forth a few times—okay, go to training, go back to the hotel, let’s go out now to see some things and go to dinner. You lose a lot of that travel time if you go that way,” Sims said. “So trying to get everything working to where you’re efficient with your time. That’s probably one of the biggest challenges.”
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