Syracuse Head Football Coach Doug Marrone says he's extra giddy as he prepares to coach a Bowl game in the Bronx for the second time in three years, the very neighborhood he grew up in as a Yankees fan.
"It's kind of one of those things you do with these press conferences but I am jacked up about this," admitted Marrone at Wednesday's Pinstripe Bowl media conference, "I truly am excited about being here".
The Orange will take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in the December 29th Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, a team Syracuse has gotten very used to playing over the years in the Big East. The Orange are also getting used to playing in the Pinstripe Bowl, having beat Kansas State in the inaugural Bronx Bowl game back in 2010.
"For us at Syracuse University to play a great school in West Virginia and partner with the Yankees in the Pinstripe Bowl is a dream come true," says SU Athletic Director Dr. Daryl Gross, "We're just honored to be part of it, to be with the franchise that we consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of the world for sports is something very special."
"Our kids are excited, both teams know each other," says Marrone, "I do believe it will be the best game so far with the Pinstripe Bowl. Our fans get a great opportunity. Obviously New York is a huge foundation for our recruiting base. Our alumni base have an opportunity to get to see us. Our kids and the majority of our football community have family that will get to come and in my opinion , play in the greatest venue of all sports in the whole world at Yankee Stadium."
West Virginia is one of Syracuse's oldest rivals. The Orange owns a 32-27 advantage in the all-time series with the Mountaineers. SU beat West Virginia 19-14 in Morgantown back in 2010, and then beat them again 49-23 at the Carrier Dome in 2011. Historically things were rarely that easy when facing the Montaineers, and Marrone says he's been reflecting on that since this Pinstripe Bowl matchup was announced.
"When I drive for a long period of time, all of the sudden my arm starts to get locked out," reflects Marrone, "and it always reminds me of West Virginia, because some darn DB hit me so hard when we were playing there when I was a player. When I knew we were playing West Virginia I said 'Gosh now I am going to have to feel that pain when I look across and I see West Virginia. I have always had an unbelievable amount of respect for the way they play the game".