NEW YORK -- A few hours before the New York Yankees held a news conference in Tampa to announce the re-signing of Derek Jeter, the Yankees held another news conference back in the Bronx, to officially welcome the two schools that will participate in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl.
"We could not have had two finer academic institutions, two finer traditions than Syracuse and Kansas State," said Yankees president Randy Levine, who had just flown back from the baseball winter meetings in Florida.
Also present were the athletic directors and coaches from both universitites, along with Kansas State president Kirk Schulz.
"We're truly excited about it," said legendary Kansas State coach Bill Snyder. "The young people in our program are anxious. Very few of them have ever had the opportunity to spend time in New York City. And this will be the gift of a lifetime for so many of them."
"We're excited about coming down here and playing," said second-year Syracuse coach Doug Marrone. "We've gone through some tough struggles with our program. ... So to say that we're excited about this game is probably an understatement."
Kansas State will enter the game with a record of 7-5 in the regular season. The Wildcats went 3-5 in the Big 12, earning them a tie for third in the conference's North division.
Syracuse finished the regular season with a record of 7-4, good for fourth place in the Big East. The Orange lost their final two games, to UConn and Boston College. But it's still a very exciting time for the program, considering it's the team's first bowl game since 2004, and first winning season since 2001.
The two teams will have a very busy few days in the Big Apple before the game itself, which will be held on Thursday, Dec. 30 at 3:30 p.m. ET (airing on ESPN). They'll arrive in New York on Sunday, the day after Christmas. On Monday and Tuesday, they're scheduled to practice at the New York Giants' and New York Jets' facilities, as well as host a clinic for local high school players in the park across the street from Yankee Stadium.
On Tuesday, the two coaches and several players will ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, and both teams will later go on a cruise around New York Harbor. And on Wednesday, both teams will have a walkthrough at Yankee Stadium.
Also, players will be making visits to patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
"It's going to be a terrific week," said Pinstripe Bowl executive director Mark Holtzman.
The very first football game at the new Yankee Stadium, held on Nov. 20 between Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Army, was a sellout (54,251), and was generally regarded as a great success -- except for the fact that the game wasn't very competitive, with the Fighting Irish dominating the Black Knights, 27-3.
This game should be more competitive, and Levine said on Tuesday that over 30,000 tickets were sold before the two participating teams were even determined.
It will likely be very cold -- but it will be a very warm moment for Marrone, who was born and raised in the Bronx, and whose grandfather worked as an usher in the old Yankee Stadium for many years.
"I don't think it's ever gonna hit me until years down the road," Marrone said. "I know I talked to my parents and I was telling them that I'm getting ready to do a press conference at Yankee Stadium, and it truly is a dream come true."