Syracuse headed to Pinstripe Bowl

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse coach Doug Marrone is about to make one of the happiest road trips of his life. It's back to the Bronx for a diehard Yankee fan.

Syracuse University director of athletics Daryl Gross accepted an invitation Thursday to represent the Big East Conference in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. The Orange (7-5) will face a representative of the Big 12 on Dec. 30.

"It's really exciting that Doug's going home back in the Bronx where his grandfather was an usher for the Yankees," Gross said. "Your first bowl game as a head coach is going to be in your neighborhood -- I don't know how many of us ever get that opportunity. It's really a godsend. To say we're excited is an understatement."

The contest will mark the first NCAA football bowl game in the Bronx since the Gotham Bowl on Dec. 15, 1962, when Nebraska edged Miami 36-34 at the original Yankee Stadium.

"When the announcement was made that a bowl game was going to be played in Yankee Stadium for the first time, my thought was that if we were not going to play in a BCS game, then how great would it be to play in the first college bowl game in Yankee Stadium in my first head coaching job," Marrone said in a statement. "New York state is our foundation. This is another step in our return to prominence."

It will be Syracuse's 23rd bowl appearance overall. The Orange are 12-9-1 all-time and 3-2 against the Big 12, including a 26-3 victory against Kansas State in the 2001 Insight.com Bowl.

Syracuse has not played in a bowl game since losing 51-14 to Georgia Tech in the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl. That loss ended up costing former head coach Paul Pasqualoni his job.

After a forgettable four years under Greg Robinson that produced a 10-37 record and only three Big East Conference victories, Marrone replaced him in 2008 and has begun to turn around the program much more quickly than anybody imagined was possible.

Syracuse finished 4-3 in the Big East, including 4-0 on the road in the conference, a first, for its first winning record since 2001. The Orange were in the running for the league's BCS bowl berth until losing to Connecticut last month. They could still finish, however, in a tie for first place.

"It's really a tribute to Doug Marrone," Gross said. "If you're around Doug every day, you probably think he can do anything. It's outstanding."

Gross has emphasized tapping into the metropolitan New York City market since he succeeded Jake Crouthamel in 2004, and he said the Pinstripe Bowl was a perfect fit for the only BCS team in New York state.

"This can only enhance that, and the earlier you can announce, it the better," Gross said.

"We have a ton of fans [in New York City]. People can start making plans. We got a little bit of a head start. It was obvious we were going to be there [in a bowl game]. Why not get it done now. It does put us at ease."

Syracuse has a rich football history in the New York metro area. The Orange were 5-1 all-time at the old Yankee Stadium, including a 3-0 victory against Pittsburgh in 1923 in the first college football game ever played there. Syracuse also played seven times at the Polo Grounds and had games at Shea Stadium in Queens and Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Orange also have four future games slated for the New Meadowlands Stadium: USC in 2012, Penn State in 2013, and Notre Dame in 2014 and 2016.

Chick-fil-A Bowl will invite ACC loser

The Chick-fil-A Bowl also announced one of the teams for its Dec. 31 game -- sort of.

Officials for the Atlanta-based bowl said Thursday they will invite the loser of Saturday's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game between Virginia Tech (10-2) and Florida State (9-3). The winner earns an automatic BCS bid and a likely trip to the Orange Bowl.

The ACC championship game loser faces a team from the Southeastern Conference at the Georgia Dome. Mississippi State (8-4) appears to be the leading candidate.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.