Even with six-figure subsidies, some are leary of the toll it takes on their athletes
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Apr 20, 2011
Mountain West Conference football coaches say the University of Hawaii will be a good addition to the league, but not even underwriting of charter flights by UH has assuaged concerns about the travel involved.
"Travel is a concern of mine, especially when we have to go there," San Diego State coach Rocky Long said during a call with conference media yesterday.
"It is always a tough road game to have to go over to Honolulu and play," Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild said.
Fairchild, who also came to Aloha Stadium as a Rams' quarterback in the 1980s, said, "Obviously the travel is an issue. It is more of an issue, I have always felt, the next week. You just don't want to make that trip back (effect) your preparation and the way you practice for the following game."
In an attempt to soothe coaches' concerns and as a condition of football-only membership for 2012, UH has agreed to pay $150,000-$175,000 in travel costs for each MWC visitor.
Opponents from the Pacific time zone would receive $150,000 while Mountain time zone foes would get $175,000 under terms of the contract.
The figure may be renegotiated annually if flight costs change per a mutually agreed upon index.
As a term of membership in the Big West for most sports other than football, UH will pay travel subsidies but the amount will be about $500 a head in the official travel parties. For example, UH will pay for 32 in baseball, 19 in men's basketball and 21 in women's basketball.
Fairchild said he looks forward to resuming a series with UH that has been dormant since 1997.
"I think back, not only as a player but as an assistant (coach) here, and some of the good teams they (the Warriors) have had over there with coach (Dick) Tomey and so forth. I think they'll be a nice addition to the MWC."
Said Long, "I think Hawaii adds to our league like all the teams coming into our conference."
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, a former Falcons quarterback, said, "I think it (playing in Hawaii) is one of the magnificent experiences that we're able to share educationally with (the players). Being able to go to Pearl Harbor, I always thought, it was a real plus to go play over there."
Boise State, which debuts in the MWC this season, brings its own concerns to league coaches.
"I think they ought to get rid of that blue turf," Long said. "I think it is unfair."