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- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads