Winning road games in any sport, at any level, is challenging. For WVU, the challenge is on a whole other level due to the rigorous travel schedule that they endure on a weekly basis.
No other Power Five institution logs as many miles throughout a conference schedule in any sport as West Virginia does. The closest in-conference trip for the Mountaineers is to Ames, Iowa, which is 861.6 miles away. During the days of the Big East, WVU had a number of schools within 400 miles of campus which made for much easier trips back home following a game. Now, arrival time in Morgantown isn’t until the wee hours of the morning for the majority of Big 12 road games.
During Big 12 Media Days, WVU head football coach Neal Brown was asked if the travel is as hard on the team as it seems or if it’s an overplayed narrative.
“I can only speak from a football perspective, the travel is not that big a deal,” said Brown. “You’re going to do four away games and at least a couple trips to Texas each year. Some years you’re gonna have five away games, but you’re talking about the difference between a two-hour flight and maybe a two-and-a-half-hour flight. The only thing that’s detrimental is, sometimes if you play a night game on the road in Lubbock or in Fort Worth, then you’re looking at a really early Sunday morning return. And so, you’ve got to be careful how you handle that Sunday, Monday on the back end. Now for the Olympic sports, it’s a different story. But in football, it’s not as big an issue as maybe what it gets talked about.”
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Hopefully for Neal’s sake, WVU head basketball coach Bob Huggins didn’t hear him say this. Huggins hasn’t been thrilled with the travel schedule playing in the Big 12, oftentimes calling it “brutal”. However, to Neal’s credit, he does have a point. They are not making the trips in the middle of the week for a nine o’clock start.
West Virginia’s conference record has taken a hit since arriving to the Big 12. In 10 seasons in the league, West Virginia holds a 24-19 home record in Big 12 play versus a 20-26 road record. In the five years prior to the Big 12, WVU held a .767 home winning percentage and was well above .500 on the road at 12-6 in the Big East Conference. Of course, the major discrepancy between the two leagues is the level of competition but one could argue multiple long trips throughout the course of the season have a negative effect and could impact the outcome of a game. However, one would have to think that if the Big 12 were to expand eastward, it would give WVU a better chance to succeed on the road.
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