I guess the best way to describe how I felt following Sunday night's announcement that the Gator Bowl had elected to invite an unranked Florida State team to face No. 16 West Virginia on New Year's Day was - conflicted.
On the one side, the matchup provides Mountaineer fans with one last opportunity to witness one of the true legends of the game coach for the final time against a program he left to take the job he has held for the last 34 years.
On the othe,r there is that gut feeling WVU will be running into a emotion-driven bunch of Seminoles who will be bent on sending their beloved head coach out a winner - a win-win situation for FSU, but a lose-lose for a Mountaineer squad hoping to break into the AP's Top 15.
Listening to Gator Bowl Committee chairman Dan Murphy, first prior to the start of the 102nd "Backyard Brawl" against arch-rival Pitt and then during Sunday's teleconference, I couldn't help to notice what I perceived as a 180 degree flip.
In conversations with the Gator Bowl's top representative at Milan Puskar Stadium, I came away with the sense that a Virginia Tech-WVU match up was nearly a 'sure bet', if there ever is one.
However, Murphy's attitude changed the day when the announcement came down that Bobby Bowden would retire following the Seminoles bowl contest.
I understand the attraction of bringing one of the most notable coaches in Florida history to your bowl to coach his final game. But, I also understand that fans want to see the best matchups when they turn on their television on New Year's Day.
On paper, a 6-6 FSU squad taking on a 9-3 West Virginia squad smells of a blowout. And, it should be.
WVU has already been installed as a 3-point favorite on the earliest betting lines and that number should go up prior to the game's 1 p.m. kickoff on CBS.
The problem Mountaineer fans must face is the fact that the old gold and blue rarely has played well when picked as a favorite and has almost never played well in the state of Florida.
Which is why this game can be nothing more than a lose-lose for the Big East's No. 2 team. Win, as expected, and fans will complain that you did not win be enough.
Lose, which could very well happen against a highly-motivated, very talented team, and questions will immediately be raised as to the legitimacy of the Big East and its automatic berth into the BCS as well as the strength of the Mountaineer program.
The best thing that can happen is what head coach Bill Stewart alluded to during his Sunday teleconference.
That, the lion's share of the pre-game publicity will go to the 'old' coach bidding farewell to a game to which he has given so much, leaving him and his Mountaineers to feel somewhat slighted by the obvious snub and give them a reason to go out and play with great motivation and emotion.
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com