| | West Virginia Not Getting Enough Respect
The West Virginia Mountaineers are in a BCS bowl game, but many believe they shouldn’t be. The Big East had an automatic bid based on past performance, but now that the big boys are gone, the conference does not deserve a bid. This lack of respect for the conference may prove to benefit West Virginia in their game in Monday’s Sugar Bowl against Georgia.
"I still don't think (anybody) wants to give us a chance," West Virginia quarterback Pat White said. "They don't think there's competition in the Big East. They don't think we can compete."
No. 11 West Virginia (10-1), picked to finish third in the Big East this season, shared or won the outright conference title for the third straight season to earn its first BCS bowl bid.
"I can't worry about what everybody else thinks. We're here," West Virginia safety Jahmile Addae said Thursday. "Whoever else is not here and wants to gripe about it, that's obviously their problem.
"I've been here for five years. We've been the underdog and always come out on top. We've been winning the Big East since Miami and Virginia and all those teams were in our conference."
Rutgers got its first bowl bid since 1978, losing to Arizona State in the Insight Bowl. South Florida, which started playing football in 1997, will make its first bowl appearance on Saturday against N.C. State in the Meineke Bowl. The conference's other bid went to No. 15 Louisville, which meets No. 12 Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl. The league would have had a fifth bowl-eligible team had Connecticut not lost five of its final six games.
"Certainly there has been some criticism in recent years, but I haven't heard
West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said, "The league has gotten bashed a little bit. And we're the smallest league, too. I think that has something to do with it," he said. "We don't have 12 teams in our league. It's an easier target to say, 'Hey, they're not worthy.'
"We've got a lot of proving to do, but so do a lot of other people. There's teams in the BCS bowls that don't have as good a record as we do. You could say they had a tougher conference schedule. I don't know. I just worry about us."