Postseason bowl games have a range of purposes and meanings to them.
They put a team on a national stage, and help promote a college’s brand and program.
Bowl games also give teams extra practices, which can be just as valuable for the next season as they can be for the bowl game itself.
At any rate, playing a 13th game at the end of a long college football season is a reward. That’s how West Virginia head coach Neal Brown is looking at it, anyways.
“This is a bowl game. It’s supposed to be a reward. And we try to treat it as such,” Brown said. “We want it to be a good experience for them, and it’s a deserving experience for them.”
Brown says that he and his staff cut down on the length of practices and meetings during the build-up to a bowl game. The head coach cited the fact that there’s more time between the regular season finale and the bowl game than there is between games during the regular season.
Less practice and meeting times aren’t the only benefits for the players, though.
“We try to do everything we possibly can from an entertainment, from a gear, to a meal standpoint, to treat it like a reward,” he said.
WVU players were gifted a Theragun Pro, which is a device that can help in recovery, from the Guaranteed Rate Bowl earlier this month.
The Mountaineers are hoping for more of a normal bowl game experience this year compared to what they experienced in 2020, as COVID-19 precautions last year cut down on the normal bowl game festivities that teams typically enjoy.
Bowl games are the reward. But a bowl game victory is still the main goal.
“Number 1 is to win the game. Number 2 is make it an enjoyable, memorable experience,” Brown said when asked about his goals for the game. “The third thing is to salute our senior class as they leave the program, [and] make sure we honor them in the right way. And the fourth thing is to build momentum for the next season.”
This year marks the 18th time in 20 years that West Virginia will play in a bowl game. It’s the second-straight postseason appearance for the Mountaineers under Brown.
WVU is looking for its first-ever bowl win over a Big Ten opponent. It’s also looking for a second victory in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
The Mountaineers (6-6) will take on Minnesota (8-4) on Dec. 28, beginning at 10:15 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Fans looking to go to the game in Phoenix, Arizona can get information on how to purchase tickets here.