MORGANTOWN - Oh, the irony of it all. On so many different levels.
After doing everything possible to escape the Big East Conference - and succeeding - West Virginia's football team will find itself right back in the heart of the league for its bowl game.
The Mountaineers on Sunday night accepted an invitation to play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29 at Yankee Stadium in New York. The New Era Pinstripe Bowl? It's more like the Old Era, the one West Virginia paid $20 million to escape.
As a member of the Big East, WVU never slipped far enough down in the pecking order to be taken by the bowl with the No. 4 pick from the Big East. It did, however, tumble far enough to be picked with the No. 7 choice out of the Big 12.
The ironies don't end there, though. Once there, the Mountaineers will face Syracuse, another of the teams on its way out of the Big East. In fact, the Orange jumped ship before West Virginia, electing to join the ACC but waiting an extra year to do it. This will be Syracuse's final football game as a member of the league.
Syracuse officially accepted its invitation to the game late Sunday afternoon. The bowl passed on a chance to choose Pitt and recreate the Backyard Brawl, sending the Panthers to the BBVA Compass Bowl for the third year in a row.
Of course, the Pinstripe Bowl trophy won't be the only piece of hardware at stake in the game, which is scheduled for a 3:15 p.m. kickoff on Dec. 29, which is a Saturday. The two teams played for so long as regular rivals that the winner took possession of the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy each season.
It will not be lost among the Mountaineers, either, that Syracuse has that trophy. Not only did the Orange win the last two meetings between the teams before the series was cancelled by WVU's conference switch, Syracuse absolutely crushed West Virginia in last year's meeting at the Carrier Dome, winning 49-23.
Both teams will carry 7-5 records into the bowl game. The Orange went 5-2 and finished in a four-way tie for first place in the Big East with Louisville, Rutgers and Cincinnati.