The new American Athletic Conference is nothing like the old Big East in many ways. The teams have changed, obviously, but so too have their distance from one another. And that means more travel -- including several trips to Florida and Texas -- something that doesn't thrill UConn coach Geno Auriemma.
“That is the one downside to where we are right now is the travel is tough,” Auriemma said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “When Rutgers leaves, there are no bus trips. Everything is a plane trip. Mentally you have to be good. You have to be mature and you have to be able to pace yourself, know what the expectation level is. We do a pretty good job of it. Traditionally we have been pretty good on the road.”
Last weekend, the Huskies were back in Florida seven weeks after their first trip their this season. Auriemma was asked if it would make more sense to group those games together (which is how the UConn men's team began their AAC schedule, with games at Houston and SMU).
“If you could play Friday and Sunday and it’s not far away from each other, that’s ideal,” he said. “But in the world of television we live in right now, that’s not possible. You can’t schedule every game to fit into a nice little package. Somebody wants you to play Tuesday, or somebody wants you to play Wednesday, or someone wants you on a Saturday afternoon at 4 o’clock … You try to accommodate a lot of different things.
“I’m not crazy about leaving on Friday and going to Houston and coming back at 4 in the morning Tuesday from Dallas. That’s not ideal either. But I wouldn’t want to make that trip twice.”
And travel won't get easier next season. Louisville and Rutgers are leaving the AAC and will be replaced by Tulane, East Carolina and Tulsa.
Adamec wonders if the AAC could follow the Pac-12 and schedule Friday-Sunday or Thursday-Saturday games to limit the number of classes players would miss because of travel.
“I think TV dictates so many of the games,” Auriemma said. “The conference has made a commitment to try to help the furthermost teams which would be us and Houston/SMU. So trying to help there are two games on that trip. Everyone else, I don’t know that given the TV demands and the fact that a lot of games are on campus how that meshes with the men’s teams. It was a little bit easier in our old league, because a lot of the men’s teams played off campus so it was never an issue of availability in a building. It is a little different now.”