For the first time since 2010, the Big 12 enters a season with the same schools as the year before. But that doesn’t mean everyone is acclimated.
West Virginia this season plays four road games at places the Mountaineers never have been: TCU, Baylor, Kansas and Kansas State. Three Big 12 schools – Iowa State, Texas and Texas Tech – make their maiden trip to Morgantown this season.
West Virginia comes to OU for the first time since 1982. OSU goes to Morgantown for the first time since 1928.
West Virginia’s five Big 12 road trips will require 11,196 round-trip miles. But Dana Holgorsen isn’t griping.
“I’ve never bought into that,” Holgorsen said. “It doesn’t bother me one bit. I will never use travel as an excuse for a win or for a loss.
“Now, Coach (Bob) Huggins and Coach (Mike) Carey and Coach (Randy) Mazey, our basketball coaches and baseball coaches, they should be complaining about it. When you play two, three games in a week, it’s different. When you play one game a week on 12 Saturdays in 14 weeks, it is not that big of a deal. We’ve got five road games.
“The routine of those road games will remain the same regardless if we were going to get on a plane and fly to Syracuse, N.Y., or fly to Lubbock, Texas, or south Florida or Austin, Texas. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about routine for us. We’re going to get back after the game on Saturday and line up and have the same routine the next week.”
West Virginia last season went 2-2 in Big 12 road games, winning at Texas and Iowa State, while losing at Tech and OSU.
TCU’s acclimation is not nearly as severe. The Frogs this season play at Iowa State (last game in Ames, 1998), OU (2008), Tech (2004) and OSU (2012).
“I think it takes two years to be able to get through all that and understanding that you try to not make any mistakes yourself as far as the administration of travel, when you’re going, where you’re staying, how you’re doing things,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson.
“But the football team knows a little bit more about what they’re going to deal with on a day‑to‑day basis because of the size of the crowd of going to Stillwater comparable to going to Colorado State or Air Force, which were good teams, but you didn’t have big crowds.
“In some ways, it makes it easier because I’ve told people that my role the first X amount of years (in the Mountain West Conference), except maybe when you played at Utah or BYU, was I had to add the emotion to our team. When you walked out, you didn’t have a very big crowd playing on the road, you had to add the emotion to be able to play a ballgame.
“Now you know every week when you play in the Big 12, you’re going to play in front of a large crowd and there’s going to be a lot of emotion.”