The Orange Bowl presents so many positives for the West Virginia football program. If you're not going to make the National Championship Game, this is what you're shooting for- a conference championship, the national spotlight, a BCS game.
Of course, the Mountaineers have some recent history in similar games. After the 2005 season, they went to Atlanta and upset Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Two years later, they won the Fiesta Bowl by beating heavily-favored Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with an interim head coach.
Now, they'll look to go three for three in BCS games by beating Clemson in the Orange Bowl. A win would take the sting off some of those regular season losses, and put a cap on what would have to be considered a successful season.
That's looking at the game in terms of the present. It's never too early to look ahead to the future, though, and the Orange Bowl is a perfect opportunity to give WVU a boost in recruiting. It certainly doesn't hurt that the game will be played in an area that West Virginia recruits heavily.
"Well, two things," said head coach Dana Holgorsen. "One, the exposure in South Florida is going to be big. Obviously, this is a big recruiting base for us and we have at least a dozen kids from this area, the way it is. Then, we're recruiting probably another dozen kids that we want to be Mountaineers, so that's big."
Florida is home to some of the best football recruits available in any given class. WVU's roster is full of players from the Sunshine State, especially from Miami and the immediate surrounding area. One high school in particular, Miramar, has been especially productive for West Virginia and its coaches. Miramar High School is conveniently located 3.1 miles from Sun Life Stadium, where the game will be played.
The exposure that WVU will get is so valuable when it comes to recruiting. When the Mountaineers got off the plane, they were greeted by a bus that was basically a mobile West Virginia advertisement. That same bus will be driving right through one of the biggest recruiting areas for the program.
According to Holgorsen, there's much more to it than just the Miami area.
"But just the whole overall aspect of a BCS game," he said, "the Orange Bowl, dating back to 1935, having a tremendous amount of exposure on national TV, and historically, just having as many good games as they've had over the course of the last 80 years is something that we understand and respect. And the whole overall exposure from a national standpoint is every bit as important as it is the local standpoint."
The game is, of course, much more than a glorified recruiting trip. This is a chance for the seniors to go out on a winning note. It's a chance for West Virginia to earn its third win in a BCS bowl. And, depending on how things go in court, it could potentially be a great way for the Mountaineers to say good bye to the Big East.
Yet, there is the fact that this entire week could help draw in more quality recruits in not only Miami, but other parts of the country. For West Virginia, that's just one of many benefits.