I want to tell everybody in North Carolina and at North Carolina State how thrilled we are to have NC State in our game. This is huge for us and our bowl game. Our bowl committee is very excited. I've been back and forth on emails all night. Our convention and business bureaus are excited after talking to them all night.
We're looking forward to everybody coming down and us providing first-class hospitality.
How much did the College Football Playoff play into the decision making of the bowl selection? When did NC State hit the radar for you guys?
It didn't play that much. We had to wait for some things to fall into place.
This is an ESPN owned-and-operated game... we have 11 bowl games. So, we spent a lot of time going through different scenarios.
NC State first came in our window about a month ago, and we've had our eyes on them for about a month. There are different scenarios on the block and you really don't know until the last day. Honestly, we weren't sure if we were going to be able to get NC State.
They were one of our final two so we're really lucky and blessed to be able to have them.
How crazy is it for a bowl director, putting it together so quickly?
What's funny is it's almost where you have to be unemotional about it. You're cheering for this team or that team... you want this team to do well, that team to do well, but you have to put your emotions aside, pick two teams, and let's put on a good show for them.
The biggest part for us is that coach, his staff, his players, and the athletic department have the best experience of their lives with us. That's our whole goal.
We want to take care of them in every facet, answer every question, be as hospitable as we can, and welcome all the fans down here with open arms.
You read about these fun experiences. What do you think the players will get to do?
A lot of people don't know how warm it is down here in the winter time. Usually during Christmas me and my family will go to the beach for Christmas.... it's 70, 75 degrees. Bring a lot of shorts and T-shirts. It's a little different than going to Detroit or a bowl out in Boise.
The destination itself is beautiful. It's fantastic. White, sandy beaches. It's different than the other coasts... we do have a Beach Day where we go out for three or four hours and the kids can touch the sand. It's funny, every year I hear stories about kids that sometimes haven't ever been to the beach, and to see them go out and play in the water... it's a little too cold for me, probably in the 60s, but you'll see them go in there and have a blast.
We'll have a Beach Day, we'll have a cruise for the players and the coaches out on Tampa Bay one night for dinner. We'll have a fan tailgating experience outside the stadium the day of the game. We'll get the bands involved as well.
I think it will be a great experience. The players will appreciate it and have a fun time with it.