Fiesta First Look

Head coach Rich Rodriguez still wasn't his normal self after learning of his team's selection to the Fiesta Bowl.

Although Rodriguez certainly was respectful of the Fiesta Bowl and said all the right things, his normally outgoing personality was still damped down after the loss to Pitt.

"We are very honored and thrilled to be invited to the Fiesta Bowl," he said. "I'd be lying if I said we weren't disappointed at the events of the last 24 hours, but at the same time, [we are happy] to be invited to the Fiesta Bowl against a great opponent and coaching staff. We have heard so many great things abut the Fiesta Bowl, and we hope to represent the Big East and West Virginia very well."

Rodriguez noted that he had no idea what Oklahoma was doing in the Big XII championship game, or that it was a possible opponent as of last night.

This is the fourth time the Mountaineers will play the Sooners. WVU is 1-2 against Oklahoma, and that game, a 41-27 win, was a milestone for Rodriguez.

"That was the first game I ever played -- it was my sophomore year," Rodriguez recalled. "Obviously we played very well. But it's a whole different thing now. I know coach Stoops. He is one of the best in the business. I know our staff knows it has its work cut out for them."

Rodriguez and his assistants took a visit to Oklahoma a few years ago to compare notes and study the Sooners' operation. That is a commonplace occurrence on the college football landscape, as most teams either host visits or travel each year for learning opportunities.

"We visited there a few years ago and talked football," Rodriguez confirmed. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for them and their program. They have proved it every year."

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops also recalled the visit.

"I love how excited and how tough they play, and that comes from the coaches. There are a lot of similarities in the way we try to coach, and I just felt like we coach in a similar way. We have a lot of respect for what they have done."


Patrick White's thumb dislocation, which occurred at the joint where the thumb meets the hand, shows no ligament damage. He is expected to be out for a few days, but should be fine for the bowl game.

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The team will meet at 4:00 PM on Monday to begin going over bowl preparation items.

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While not managing much enthusiasm himself, Rodriguez said he expects West Virginia fans will travel to the game.

"I hope the fans will be excited," he said. "We have a great history of travelling, and I will be surprised if we don't travel well again."

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Rodriguez also commented on the psychology of coming off a loss while preparing for a bowl game. The longer time will probably assist in that process, and often cuts any momentum that might carry over from a season-ending win.

"We have played well in the last game and then awful in a bowl game," Rodriguez recalled. I think the time makes it easier to move on from the last game.

"[The players] have bounced back quickly before after a loss," he continued. "Kids are more resilient than coaches, but we don't have a game for a few weeks, so it might take a little longer for them this time. We have to get it turned around quickly, and I think they will. I think spirits will be picked back up knowing they are going to the Fiesta Bowl and with the opponent we will have."

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