Sugar Packets II

Head coach Rich Rodriguez detailed the building of a program as he went in depth on the meaning of the Sugar Bowl bid to the West Virginia program.

"We want to build a program, not a team," Rodriguez said as he talked about the long view of the rising WVU football department. "I think too many times in this win-now environment, coaches build for a team. When you build a program your lows are not as low. You're always close when you build a program. We were close last year. When you have a program you can sometimes sneak up on people with a young team, like we did this year. We're a little bottom-heavy in youth. Most of the time that fifth year for coaches, they have a lot of seniors. Our numbers are not like that."

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On continuing to build at WVU: "There are a lot of things that we are going to have to do to keep contending. I think there are a lot of things, just infrastructure and other detailed things, that people assume we have that we do not. I won't get into specifics without talking to the A.D. But to build at West Virginia, to keep climbing and climbing, we're on that path but there are is a laundry list. I have a top priority of five to six things. Part of the danger when you win is that people think you can always do it with what you have.

"You look at what Georgia has, and other programs like that, and we have a ways to go. That's why games like last year's against Temple are important. It was a big deal because if we beat them we tied Miami for first, and we got first-place money. That check has a lot of zeroes on it. Eddie (Pastilong, WVU's athletic director) was the first one to come and see me after that game."

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On playing in Atlanta: "There's a few more stoplights in Atlanta than Grant Town (Rodriguez' home town). I hope I have a driver, because I'll get lost. It took me two years to figure out New Orleans, and then I moved. It would have been nice to go back to New Orleans because we had so many friends there. We could have said that, hey, we came back.

"There was a thought to put (a stoplight) up [in Grant Tow], just as a conversation piece. There are less people there now than when I was there. I left, and then there were only 398."

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On the BCS payout: "We don't get that entire $15 million, like Notre Dame does. That'd be nice, for this year anyway. The Big East has kind of a unique way to do it. We do it by place, so we'll get over $2 million, plus a share of the overall pie for winning the conference."

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Rodriguez also receives $75,000 bonus for a title and a BCS bowl.

"People say, hey, you're supposed to win," Rodriguez joked. "That's why you're here. And you get a bonus? Yeah, I get a bonus - and I'm not going to apologize for it. I got it because, well, because I had a good lawyer."

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On No. 22 Florida State making the BCS with an 8-4 record: "You wanted a championship game, sometimes you pay the price for it. Virginia Tech would have gone if they would not have had that championship game. Sometimes a championship game knocks you out of a potential BCS game.

"I was of the opinion that all the major leagues would go to 12 teams and have a championship game because of money. Money usually dictates everything. I thought the Big Ten, which is really the Big 11, would go to 12 and have one. But where the Big East is right now, we are trying to settle into what we have. In five years or so, once the dust has settled, we'll look at the landscape and see where we are."

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On preparing to play inside the Georgia Dome: "I'll have Dusty (Rutledge, the video coordinator) and a few other guys stand behind them and yell real loud. Maybe I'll play loud music. But Dusty's music selection has got to get a lot better."

RIFLE REPORTS

The last time WVU appeared in four straight bowl games, it played in the Peach, Gator, Hall of Fame and Bluebonnet Bowls from 1981-84.

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The Mountaineers are 2-6 in bowls on New Year's Day or later. It won the 1938 and '49 Sun Bowls and lost the 1989 Fiesta Bowl, the 1954 and '94 Sugar Bowls, and the 1997, 2004 and '05 Gator Bowls. WVU's last bowl win was 49-38 in the 2000 Music City Bowl over Mississippi in Hall of Fame head coach Don Nehlen's final game.

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WVU is 9-15 all-time in bowl games, dating to the 1922 win over Gonzaga in the East-West Bowl. This is the Mountaineers' fourth bowl appearance under Rodriguez, in his fifth year. It is 0-3, but was 3-1 when Rodriguez was a player.

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West Virginia has now won Big East championships in 1993, 2003, '04 and '05 and has won 25 of its last 29 regular season games. It is 23-4 in its last 27 Big East games and 15-4 in night games (5 p.m. or later) under Rodriguez.

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The Mountaineers are ranked fifth nationally in rushing and is first in the Big East. It has 21 rushing touchdowns in its last five games. Steve Slaton (13) and Pat White (6) have combined for 19 of those. Slaton is ranked seventh nationally in scoring and 28th in rushing.

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WVU is eighth in total defense and first in the Big East. It has had at least one interception in 10 of 11 games and has intercepted a pass in its last seven contests and has allowed just one 100-yard rusher this year (Louisville's Michael Bush). Six foes had less than 100 yards rushing.

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West Virginia's 10 wins are just the third time a Mountaineer teams has won that many in the regular season. It has won 10 games in a season just five times. WVU has won 11 games twice, both during the regular season. Its 7-0 Big East record ties it with the 1993 team for the best ever.

The 18 seniors on the roster have combined for a 35-14 record.


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