(USA Today Sports Images)One of the biggest jokes about realignment is that teams joined conferences that made no geographical sense for them. But, schools liked the idea of more money, so whatever. If all of your "rivals" are a time zone away and fans lose the longstanding geographically logical rivalries they love, that's the bed you made.
Well, it took West Virginia less than a full school year to complain about travel, like somehow it didn't realize that the Big 12 didn't have any easy trips for the Mountaineers.
The Times West Virginian reported that the Big 12 and West Virginia have agreed to make some changes to ease the Mountaineers' travel problems. One thing the conference can't do: Change the fact that every other school in the Big 12 is at least 1,700 miles (round trip) and a time zone away, something the Mountaineers knew very well when they voluntarily switched leagues.
The requests, reported by the Times West Virginian, aren't unreasonable. West Virginia wants two road conference basketball games before the academic schedule starts, more road trips in which the basketball team can play two games on one road trip with Saturday-Monday games being the example given, and cutting back late trips on midweek games. Football is easier, but the story points out that the team had to make long road trips to Texas and Texas Tech in consecutive weeks, and the latter trip started a five-game losing streak. Not sure, but when West Virginia joined the Big 12 we're pretty sure Texas and Texas Tech were part of that league and the school could probably figure out it would be taking road trips there.
West Virginia made no unreasonable requests, and athletic director Oliver Luck admitted to the paper that no changes are guaranteed because scheduling is always complicated, but at the same time we have zero patience or tolerance for any gripes that come out of realignment. The first time Maryland or Rutgers complains about how difficult travel is in the Big Ten, or when the new Big East figures out that having teams everywhere on the map doesn't make for an easy road schedule, too bad. The Big 12 seems to be working with West Virginia, but it might not forever, and these other schools' new conferences might not be willing to bend when very predictable travel issues arise.
Realignment, for the most part, stinks. Most fans don't want it and there is almost no benefit for them in their team moving conferences. The administrators know that when you move to a conference with no schools within 1,700 miles, travel will be tough. They took the money with the conference switch anyway.
Life is going to be tough for some of these schools after realignment. The reality for the coaches is that they're going to have to deal with many of the same problems West Virginia is dealing with. Maybe potential recruits will realize that traveling home in the middle of the morning after a road game over and over isn't very fun. Oh well. This is what your school president decided to do. But feel free to enjoy the extra television money realignment brought you.