MWC Travelogue: Wild Mileage, Environmental Spectrums
By Ken Pomponio
Put down your preseason preview magazines and dig out your torn and tattered Rand McNally atlas. It’s time for a little Mountain West Conference travelogue.
To be sure, there’s nothing like a road trip for a college football squad — you know, chartered flights, thousands of pounds of baggage, detailed itineraries, room service, curfews and throngs of hostile fans awaiting your arrival.
In the far-flung, map-spanning locales of MWC, though, travel takes on a whole new meaning. Time zones are criss-crossed with regularity, frequent-flyer miles add up quickly and the campus environments range from high altitude to desert to tropical.
With that in mind, we’ve broken down the road schedules for each of the 12 Mountain West schools and found that the itineraries are as varied as the campus environments.
Nine of the 12 schools have a standard six road dates — four conference contests and a pair of non-conference road games. Two MWC programs, Air Force and UNLV, play only five games away from home, meaning they host three of their four non-conference contests, while Colorado State has seven road trips among its league-high 13 games.
Hawaii, located some 2,400 miles from its nearest MWC neighbor, will log the most travel miles in the conference — and the NCAA — with at least 16,065 (one way), and that includes a week-plus stay on the mainland for consecutive road games at Utah State and Navy in early November.
Talk about road Warriors.
On the flip side, the MWC-newcomer Utah State Aggies will be relative homebodies as they have no road trip longer than 636 miles and will travel the fewest total miles at 2,722.
By comparison, and to illustrate the geographical span and scheduling challenges of the Mountain West, Utah State still will log more than double the 2013 travel miles (1,310) of two-time defending national champion Alabama, which has all of two road dates (at Texas A&M and Kentucky) in non-bordering states. Moreover, eight of the 12 MWC schools have a single 2013 trip longer than the Tide’s 1,310 total miles.
Following is a school-by-school breakdown of the Mountain West Conference's 2013 travel plans, arranged from most to fewest total travel miles:
- Hawaii: 16,065 total miles. The Warriors’ shortest flight to the mainland (2,541 miles) will be for their non-conference date at Oregon State on Sept. 7.
- San Diego State: 6,661. Long jaunts East (1,955 miles to Columbus, Ohio) and West (2,416 to Honolulu) bookend the Aztecs’ daunting itinerary.
- Colorado State: 5,896. Two of the Rams’ league-most seven trips will be less than 70 miles — their season-opening tilt against Colorado in Denver and their biennial visit to Laramie, Wyo., in October — but they do visit Tuscaloosa, Ala. (1,092 miles), and Honolulu (3,345).
- San Jose State: 5,512. Even with the conference’s shortest road trip (23 miles up I-280 to face Stanford in the Sept. 7 season opener), the Spartans still will log the fourth-most miles in the league.
- Fresno State: 5,303. Four of the Bulldogs’ six trips will be longer than 700 miles, capped by a 2,517-mile flight to Hawaii in late September.
- New Mexico: 4,311. The Lobos will travel 1,495 miles for a Sept. 14 non-conference game in Pittsburgh, and their shortest MWC trip is 432 miles to Laramie.
- Nevada: 4,291. Aside from Hawaii, the Wolf Pack has the longest non-conference journey in the conference, traveling 2,094 miles to Tallahassee to face Florida State on Sept. 14.
- Wyoming: 3,453. The Cowboys will travel 466 miles to open the season in Lincoln, Neb., and a month later will fly 1,008 miles to San Marcos, Texas, for a Sept. 28 date with Texas State.
- Air Force: 3,399. The Falcons only have five road dates, but one of them is a 1,519-mile cross-country trek to Annapolis, Md, for their Commander-in-Chief contest with Navy.
- UNLV: 2,989. Like Air Force, the Rebs only have five road games, but one of them is 1,299 miles away in Minneapolis. Even their in-state trip to Reno is 346 miles, one way.
- Boise State: 2,868. The Broncos will journey East of the Rockies only once (Nov. 2 at CSU) and their longest trip is a 756-mile flight to San Diego.
- Utah State: 2,722. The Aggies open the season with an 83-mile drive to Salt Lake to face Utah, and their Sept. 21 game in Los Angeles (vs. USC) represents their longest trip of the season at 636 miles.