The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

July 31, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Travel is no excuse for losses

MORGANTOWN — To be perfectly honest, there was one thing that gnawed at my innards more than anything else last year, and that was the constant whining I would hear about travel affecting WVU in its first Big 12 season.

Mind you now, I’m speaking here solely of football, which now is the season du jour, and I’m speaking only of fans and media moaning ...

Knowing this, it was with great pleasure that I listened to the words of football coach Dana Holgorsen on Big 12 Media Day when a member of the media offered him said hook upon which to place at least part of the blame for last season’s disappointing and discouraging 7-6 record.

Holgorsen said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

“I’ve never bought into that,” Holgorsen said. “It doesn’t bother me one bit. I will never use travel as an excuse for a win or for a loss.”

Being someone who disagrees with many of the things that come out of the football coach’s mouth, this in a way touched me deeply, especially when he took it a step further and pointed out the differences between his sport and the others who truly do have problems presented by travel.

“Now, Coach (Bob) Huggins and Coach (Mike) Carey and Coach (Randy) Mazey, our basketball coaches and baseball coaches, they should be complaining about it. When you play two, three games in a week, it’s different. When you play one game a week on 12 Saturdays in 14 weeks, it is not that big of a deal. We’ve got five road games,” Holgorsen said.

Holgorsen then went on to explain why travel in the Big 12 is little or no different from any travel West Virginia teams have faced in the past, save for the day trip up to Pittsburgh for the away editions of the Backyard Brawl.

“The routine of those road games will remain the same regardless if we were going to get on a plane and fly to Syracuse, N.Y., or fly to Lubbock, Texas, or South Florida or Austin, Texas. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about routine for us. We’re going to get back after the game on Saturday and line up and have the same routine the next week.”

Now, before we go any further, let me offer an apology to the fans who may have been insulted by my opening remark because I thoroughly understand why they cannot grasp why the football travel, going a longer distance, dealing with a time zone change, isn’t more difficult.

The reason is they only have their own travel to compare it with and, in truth, there is no comparison.

To begin with, let’s say that you and your family are going to go to Norman, Okla., for the Sept. 7 showdown with the Oklahoma Sooners, the first road game of the season.

You begin by having to track down plane reservations. They are available. I checked yesterday — flights available all day on Sept. 6 from Pittsburgh for anywhere from $440 to almost $600. None are nonstop, of course, and you can go via Houston, Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Newark, Minneapolis or Atlanta.

Probably through Seattle, too, but I’d avoid that.

West Virginia football players? They fly direct, on a charter. They don’t have to drive to Pittsburgh an hour and a half, park the car, pay for the parking, take a shuttle to the airport. They just hop on a chartered bus to Clarksburg and then they take off.

The flight is about 2 1/2 hours, on which they don’t have to sit next to some sweaty, smelly person they know not, and upon arrival whereas you are standing in line at the rental car agency, they are on the charter bus to the hotel.

Ah, the hotel. You, as a traveling fan, have to find one in Norman. I looked and there are still some available, actually at reasonable rates considering there’s a home football game. It isn’t always that easy.

The players, well, they have a travel coordinator so all they do is ride the bus to the hotel and pick up their keys.

Friday night, settled into the hotel, you go find a place for dinner and then party the night away. The players have a meal provided, then meetings and early to bed.

Are you getting the picture? The only similarity to your rather bothersome travel and theirs is that you are going to the same place at the same time.

Of course, you could decide not to worry about planes or rental cars or parking by driving. That trip to Norman is listed at only 1,136 miles, taking about 16 hours, 55 minutes with no fewer than 31 turns and travel on six different interstate highways.

What happens is the players play the game, pack up and bus to the airport, get on the charter, fly home and are spending Saturday night in Morgantown before you go to bed in Norman.

The truth is, if you need an excuse for your boss or teacher the next week, you might be able to use travel to West Virginia football games, but as Holgorsen says, it isn’t an excuse for playing bad football on the road.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads