Miami, West Virginia Eager To Return To Orlando
Miami and West Virginia – and their respective head coaches – are no strangers to spending bowl season in Orlando.
First-year Miami head coach Mark Richt has led numerous teams on bowl trips to Orlando in his previous stop as head coach at Georgia. In his fifteen years leading the Bulldogs, Richt made three appearances in Orlando’s other bowl game, the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, winning all three.
He is well aware of the hospitality his Hurricanes – and everyone associated with the Miami program — are about to enjoy.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity to play in Orlando and to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl,” Richt said. “I know everybody is loving this opportunity. 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.”
The Hurricanes themselves have made two prior trips to Orlando since the Russell Athletic Bowl moved to the City Beautiful, in 2009 and 2013.
Miami Director of Athletics Blake James also understands the ability of Florida Citrus Sports and the City of Orlando to put on a great bowl game, including all the events surrounding the contest.
“I could not be more excited,” James said. “The city of Orlando is a familiar bowl destination for our program and I know it is a location that our student-athletes, coaches, fans, alumni and donors will thoroughly enjoy.”
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen also has experience coaching a bowl game in The City Beautiful as an assistant coach with Texas Tech in 2002. He served as position coach for future NFL star Wes Welker in a Red Raiders’ attack that dominated Clemson, 55-15.
Of course, Mountaineer fans have supported WVU in Orlando in the past, as well. West Virginia made one prior appearance in Orlando, in 2010 as a member of the Big East. Holgorsen had just been announced as the team’s head-coach-in-waiting and did not coach the game. However, just one year later, he led the Mountaineers to a 10-win season and Orange Bowl victory with many of the same players from the previous Orlando appearance.
Holgorsen’s voicemail and cell phone have already gotten a workout from supporters who are excited to be headed south.
“I’m expecting a ton of people there,” Holgorsen said. “I have already gotten tons of calls from a lot of our fan base and we’ll be down there in droves, I can assure you of that.”