Miami among ACC’s biggest winners in bowl selections


For the last decade, bowl games have left bad tastes in the Hurricanes’ mouths. Miami hasn’t won a postseason game since the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho. Yes, it’s been that long.

The last three, especially, were gross affairs.

Last year’s Sun Bowl loss to Washington State included a snowstorm and some ugly play calls down the stretch. A 2014 Independence Bowl loss to South Carolina had the Hurricanes high-tailing it out of chilly, drizzly Shreveport. And no Miami fan wants to remember their team limping around the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl while Louisville star Teddy Bridgewater laughed at his hometown ‘U.’

The combination of warm weather and a chance to avenge that loss had the Hurricanes hoping they would be selected for this year’s Russell Athletic Bowl. The pie-in-the-sky idea was a TaxSlayer Bowl date with Florida in Jacksonville, but when that option fizzled, Miami was more than happy to head three-and-a-half hours north to Orlando, where it should be greeted by a large contingent of orange-and-green fans.

All should know how fortunate Miami is to be playing a desirable bowl close to home.

The Russell Athletic Bowl had the fourth choice of ACC teams on bowl selection Sunday, with Clemson (playoff), Florida State (Orange) and Louisville (Citrus) off the board. It could have chosen Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech, which put up a strong fight against Clemson in the title game. It also had its pick of appealing 8-4 teams, including Pitt (which beat Clemson and playoff-contender Penn State), North Carolina, Miami and Georgia Tech.

Why did the Russell folks skip a Coastal champion for Miami, which lost to FSU, UNC, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame? Partly because of controversial North Carolina law HB2, which caused the ACC to move its championship game from Charlotte to Orlando. They didn’t feel the Hokies would be a draw, given they played in Camping World Stadium less than 24 hours before the bowls were selected. They also passed on North Carolina because the Tar Heels played in the Russell last year. Pitt was appealing because of its long and contentious history with the other team heading to Orlando, the Big 12’s West Virginia.

But Miami it is, and ticket sales are brisk. Representatives for the bowl said this week they had their best opening week in three years. In other words, since the last time they picked the Hurricanes.

Miami-to-Orlando is a win for UM, and it looks like the Russell folks think it’ll be a win for them.