Miami coach Al Golden was on the road recruiting Sunday night when the Hurricanes accepted an invitation to play in this year’s Russell Athletic Bowl.
Monday afternoon though, the third-year coach and Miami athletic director Blake James shared their thoughts about the Hurricanes’ upcoming matchup against Louisville in Orlando.
Bottom line? They’re both pretty happy Miami has an opportunity to play in a bowl, especially considering what the program has endured the last two seasons.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to attend the Russell Athletic Bowl and everything the Orlando community has to afford our young people. I’m excited about the opportunity to play a quality opponent in Louisville,” Golden said “It’s a very exciting time for us, and we will open our bowl practices starting Friday night which will be exciting for our team and our program moving forward.”
There were some reports early in the day Sunday the Hurricanes might be headed to Atlanta to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. When asked if he was disappointed things didn’t work out that way for Miami, James stressed what an in-state bowl game means to Miami and how easy it will be for Hurricane fans to travel to Orlando for what could be the end of a 10-win season if the Hurricanes (9-3) can upend 18th-ranked Louisville.
The Hurricanes were ranked No. 25 in the most recent USA Today coaches poll released over the weekend.
“We’re excited to be at the Russell Athletic Bowl. Obviously, there’s a lot of great bowls out there and we’ve had tremendous experiences in every place that I’ve ever been in,” James said. “We’re excited to be in Orlando and I focus our efforts on a great Louisville team and a great matchup that we’ll have in Orlando. Again, we’re thrilled to be there. I told Steve Hogan, the executive director, all along that Orlando makes sense for us in so many ways. It gives our fans a great chance to see the program and be a part of the state of Florida.”
Some other highlights from Monday:
*One of the biggest storylines in Miami’s bowl game will be the Hurricanes matching up against Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a former Miami Northwestern High standout.
Bridgewater, who has passed for more than 3,700 yards this season, was once a Miami commit.
Monday, Golden said he didn’t have much time to try and change Bridgewater’s mind after being named Miami’s coach in December 2010.
“That was when I just arrived so I only had one opportunity to meet him before he made his decision,” Golden said. I think he made his decision on the 17th or 18th and I arrived on the 10th. Again, obviously, Teddy’s an excellent player but I didn’t really have a great opportunity to meet him and spend time with him except for one time.”
*Though Golden’s contact with central Florida recruits will be limited during Miami’s bowl preparations in Orlando, he reiterated what kind of impact a bowl appearance will make on the recruiting trail.
“We’re entering a dead period, so I don’t know how much it’s going to impact it. But when you arrive at a site five, six days and spend that kind of time there, you’re the lead story in that area from that standpoint,” he said. “It’s clearly going to help our efforts moving forward from a recruiting standpoint in addition to what we can do in terms of practicing. As you know, we haven’t had this opportunity. Our sophomores and juniors haven’t been to a bowl game yet, our freshmen are excited about the experience we’re going to have. Overall, we couldn’t be happier. I think we’re going to have a great turnout, our fan base, we’re playing an excellent opponent, a future ACC opponent, and we’re going to a place that many of our kids have not had the good fortune of experiencing. I know they’re excited about that and overall looking forward to kicking this thing off Friday.”