Coconut Creek, FL–Hard to imagine a better bowl scenario for first year Miami head coach Mark Richt. He gets a chance to improve upon his 8-4 season, a respectable first year start while getting a chance to play in a backyard sort of area in Orlando and Camping World Stadium. To top it off, Miami gets a ranked opponent from a Power 5 conference in No. 16. West Virginia.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity to play in Orlando and to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl. I haven’t talked to any of the players. I talked to a couple of the coaches, because we’ve been doing a little bit of recruiting today. I know everybody is loving this opportunity.
With the Mountaineers being near the top half of the College Football Rankings, a win likely means that Miami would finish in the top 25.
“We’re playing a great football team in West Virginia, a team that just got 10 victories this season. Coach [Dana Holgerson] has done a great job there. Orlando itself is a great town and a great place to have a bowl, because the players usually have a lot of fun things to do. The coaches’ wives and kids have a ball too. The coaches tend to work hard in bowls, and don’t do a whole lot of the fun stuff, but it’ll be a great challenge and a lot of fun for us.”
For Miami, the season came down to a tough four game stretch where they dropped four consecutive games to Florida State (by 1), North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. Going into the season, a split was seen as necessary for a successful season. The Canes lost all four. But the four straight wins to open and close the season are still impressive.
For now the team is focused on academics and staying in shape.
‘We may have a very short, sweet practice Saturday. We haven’t finalized that yet. But if we don’t, the first one, I believe, will be the next Thursday. There will be plenty of practice days the way this thing stacks up. We’ll be practicing on campus, then we’ll have a day to travel, then we’ll have the ability to have some more practices and kind of a walk-through day before the game on the 28th. We’ll definitely be in Orlando Christmas Day and we’ll have a chance to get all the practices in that we need.”