Orlando and the wide world of tourist attractions
It’s the Russell Athletic Bowl and all you need to know is that Orlando is the bowl site.
Orlando in late December. Is that a better destination than Detroit, New York City, Boise or El Paso in mid-winter?
Both West Virginia and Miami will arrive in central Florida in time to take part in nightly functions planned to delight the palate and wardrobe of every player.
Dinners with steak as a matter of course. Shrimp, lobster, sushi, prime rib and barbecue meat everywhere you look. A player’s delight. A player’s reward for a 10-win season in West Virginia’s case and an eight-win season if you play for the Hurricanes.
Then there are the daytime trips to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, Epcot Center and even Legoland Florida.
Each player will receive a watch, clothing of all kind, food delicacies they never had in Morgantown or the Evansdale Campus cafeteria.
There will be visits to hospitals to cheer children with illnesses. The players will give away athletic duds to the hospitalized and they’ll promise good bowl performances in the children’s names.
The Russell Athletic Bowl may have another corporate name in due time, the same as the Citrus Bowl, Tangerine Bowl, Blockbuster Bowl and Champs Sports Bowl did in preceding the name “Russell Athletic.”
The Mountaineers come in with a 10-2 record with losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Miami will be 8-4 and bring from Coral Gables wins in its last four games.
The last five years has seen this bowl average 55,000 fans per date in a place that seats about 68,500. The bowl executives aren’t too worried about the scads of empty seats because ESPN, which will air the 5:30 p.m. game on Wednesday, Dec. 28, pays the freight . . . and still makes a healthy profit.
West Virginia has been allotted 8,000 tickets for the game and as of Saturday, Dec. 10, had sold 5,000 of them.
And the tickets ain’t cheap — $57 for the top row in one end zone, $66 for the pleasure of the lower end zone, $275 for a lower level view from the 50-yard line, $197 from an upper level seat on the 50 and $115 for an upper level place on the goal line.
This is one of 40 bowl games for the 2016 season. One of its attractions is that both schools have quality backgrounds and are well known even outside their own geographical areas.
Mark Richt is Miami’s first-year coach. Dana Holgorsen just received a five-year contract extension that takes him through the 2021 season.
These teams have flaws. But both can be explosive and visually fun to watch for any fan with no monetary stake in the outcome.
The last time Holgorsen took a WVU team to Florida he left with a 70-33 win over Dabo Swinney and Clemson in an Orange Bowl dust-up.
Richt spent numerous years at Georgia guiding the Bulldog fortunes to bowl game after bowl game.
To the innocent, this game is enticing and deserved of their attention . . . because it’s in Florida, the temperatures beat those in Shepherdstown or Kearneysville, and there should be a fair amount of points tacked on to the scoreboard.