Only three of those days are devoted to convention work, that being July 1-3. The event is being held at the Holywell Park Conference Centre in Loughbourough, which is south of the London area. Or at least that's where Collins thinks the Link Hotel sit is; he and the family were still getting everything in order for the extended stay on the other side of the big pond.
What he knows for sure already is "This is a convention for coaches from the English clubs playing American football. The sport is growing over there and people want to more about how it is played at the college level here."
To that end Collins, the new Bulldogs co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, and new full-time wide receivers coach Mirando will be part of the program. They are joined as featured speakers by Ashley Ingram, offensive line coach at Navy (his college team will actually open the 2011 season in Dublin, Ireland, against Notre Dame); Jake Box, the former head coach of Cardiff University and the Great Britain Bulldogs; 45-year veteran of American college coaching David Needs; and longtime high school and college coach Dom Bonvetti.
The convention will include other UK—here meaning ‘United Kingdom' and not one of Mississippi State's annual SEC rivals—coaches and officials speaking and holding clinics, as well as short informal discussion sessions, talks from equipment providers, and more. So, said Collins, this is a working vacation.
"I'm looking forward to meeting them and talking about football." Happily for this group of Brits it really is football and not the better-known variant of foot and ball. And while as a local wit once joked, the Americans and the English are two peoples divided by a common language, Collins and Mirando are confident that everyone will share the lingo of blocking and tackling and effort.
What of the days not taken up by travel and talking? Geoff and wife Jennifer do have a fair share of down-time. "They're putting us up for five days in London before the convention, and we're going to be touring the city," he said. Making it to Wimbledon, which will be in the second week, might not be easy, but seeing just some of the better-known spots in the great city will fill plenty of days.
Still these MSU coaches know this is a visit, not a stay, and the return trip is timed for the perfect reminder. "We'll be coming back on the Fourth of July."
With, safe to say, the most interesting summer stories of any Mississippi State staffers this season. Even more so should they introduce British Football folk to the unique gridiron advantages of cowbells...