Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson made news recently with some comments about the travel issues his school will face in the Big 12 with the lengthy flight to West Virginia.
“I promise I’m not going to Morgantown,” Anderson said in reference to the home of the West Virginia Mountaineers, who are a current member of the Big 12. “I’m going to sign that to Jean Boyd (deputy AD). He can go to Morgantown. But send me to Texas and the rivalry with Arizona and starting a new one with BYU and Utah and Colorado.”
Social media slammed Anderson for his comments, but could the ASU AD have a point?
Arizona State’s furthest opponent in the Pac-12 is Washington State, which requires about four hours and six minutes of travel (flying and driving).
The furthest travel in the Big 12 is to West Virginia and that requires about five hours and 28 minutes of flying and driving.
No wonder Anderson might want to skip that trip.
The trip to West Virginia might not be the only travel issue facing the Sun Devils in the new Big 12 starting in 2024.
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Arizona State travel in Pac-12
According to information compiled by Arizona State, the average air travel (flying and driving) for ASU to other Pac-12 schools was two hours and 52 minutes, and the information did not include UCLA and USC, with is about a 1 hour and 22-minute flight time, which would bring that average down.
ASU to Cal is two hours and 31 minutes of air travel, and ASU to Colorado is two hours and 36 minutes.
Oregon is three hours and eight minutes away from ASU, while Oregon State is three hours and 32 minutes. Stanford comes in at two hours and 35 minutes away, and Utah is two hours and six minutes.
Washington is three hours and 34 minutes from Phoenix between flight time and drive time, the longest besides Washington State.
But what if you want to drive?
According to ASU, the average drive to a Pac-12 opponent (not including USC and UCLA), is 914 miles and 13 hours and 55 minutes and that number would go down considerably if you included the LA schools, with LA being about six hours away and about 375 miles from Phoenix.
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Arizona State travel in Big 12
ASU provided information that the average air travel (flight and drive to campus) for ASU in the Big 12 would be three hours and 27 minutes, with Baylor four hours and four minutes away, BYU two hours and 38 minutes and Cincinnati four hours and two minutes.
Houston is three hours and 16 minutes of flight and driving from Phoenix, while Iowa State is three hours and 42 minutes and Kansas is three hours and 35 minutes.
Arizona State has Kansas State being four hours and 25 minutes, with Oklahoma State at three hours and 35 minutes, TCU at three hours and 10 minutes and Texas Tech at two hours and 20 minutes.
Then we get to UCF, which is four hours and 52 minutes of travel time away from ASU’s Tempe campus, the second-longest distance for ASU’s Big 12 opponents behind West Virginia.
As for the drives to Big 12 schools, ASU has the average drive at 1,140 miles and 16 hours and 57 minutes.
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Travel issues in both conferences
Travel in the Pac-12 isn’t always easy, but the Sun Devils have at least grown accustomed to it.
Most of the airports are within an hour of the conference’s football stadiums, with a notable exception being the lengthy ride from Spokane to Pullman, Washington, the home of Washington State.
But Washington State is the only Pac-12 school that takes more than four hours to get to between flight time and drive time combined for Arizona State.
Five Big 12 schools will take at least four hours to get to from ASU between flying and driving (Baylor, Cincinnati, Kansas State, UCF and West Virginia.
Getting to Morgantown, West Virginia requires a lengthy car ride (80 miles) after flying into Pittsburgh that we’re sure won’t thrill Arizona State athletes (and we’ve already heard how the athletic director) feels about it.
To make matters worse for ASU, they will travel East to face Big 12 opponents, which could result in playing games much earlier than the players are accustomed to.
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Maybe Big 12 travel won’t be so bad for Arizona State in 2024
Several of the Big 12 campuses are close to major airports, which means although the flights may be longer, the drives won’t be as long once you land at the airports.
And the Big 12 is bound to try to try to limit travel for its teams.
With the conference expanding, many writers have speculated that the Big 12 could ease travel issues in football by placing teams in regional pods against teams they would face each year.
So ASU could end up playing Arizona, Utah, BYU and maybe Colorado every season, and only have to travel to other Big 12 teams every few years.
So that trip to Morgantown, West Virginia might not happen for a while for Ray Anderson and the Sun Devils. And if it does, it might only happen a few times a decade, which would make it feasible right?
And certainly more appealing than being in the situation that the non-Pac-12 defectors, Oregon State, Washington State, Stanford and California currently find themselves in, not knowing where their conference home will be in 2024.
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