The West Virginia Mountaineers are an outlier.
In a conference that is geographically centered in the middle of the United States, they are prone to logistical nightmares which both the Big 12 Conference, and the Mountaineers knew were inevitable as they entered into a pact adding the school as the conference’s 10th member. What was also inevitable was that the Mountaineers would have complaints about these logistical nightmares when a full season of athletic competition — not just in football — drew to a close.
Given this, should we feel sympathy for West Virginia’s travel complaints.
Well, yes and no.
As it stands Oliver Luck, the West Virginia athletic director — and yes, father of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck — has reached out to the NCAA, requesting they do all they can to alleviate the exhausting road trips both the football and basketball teams were subject to over the past few months of competition.
While absolutely understandable, these issues were also foreseeable. Trips to Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas would be par for the course and the physical, financial, and mental toll these trips would take was well understood when West Virginia made the choice to become a Big 12 member.
When anyone enters into a situation which they are completely aware will have negative consequences, it’s hard to feel to sorry for them when those consequences are manifested. Along these lines, I don’t feel much sympathy for the Mountaineers.
On the flipside, however, the logistical challenges they face shouldn’t just go unaddressed because they are what they are — the NCAA should do what it can to make things at least a little more palatable.
One possibility is ensuring that the Mountaineers aren’t forced to take back-to-back Texas trips on consecutive weekends for example — seems easy enough. During the basketball season, Oliver Luck has requested that WVU be allowed to play two conference games prior to the start of the spring academic semester to lighten the load when players arrive back to Morgantown at 4 in the morning after a weekday Texas trip and are still expected to attend class the next day.
There’s some flexibility here which the NCAA surely can work with to make things a little easier on the Mountaineers regardless of what they knew they were getting themselves into.
Will other Big 12 teams cry foul when these arrangements are made?
Surely. Whining is the status quo.
Do they have the right to complain?
Well, that’s debatable.