Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Red Eyes, Luggage Carts, Can't Lose

Just something quick: the Big East released its 2013 conference schedule yesterday. It's an interesting exercise in realignment madness. I computed the distance between each school using this tool. This first table provided the total miles each team travels to get to its road games, along with its longest trip.

School Miles Traveled Miles/Road Game Longest Trip
SDSU 7166 1791.5 2500 (UConn)
Boise State 5801 1450.25 2114 (Temple)
Houston 5095 1273.75 1494 (Boise State)
Temple 4651 1162.75 2372 (SDSU)
Rutgers 3831 957.75 2146 (BSU)
Cincinnati 3626 906.5 1873 (SDSU)
Connecticut 3351 837.75 1487 (SMU)
UCF 3333 833.25 994 (SMU)
Louisville 3251 812.75 1625 (BSU)
Memphis 2978 744.5 1514 (BSU)
USF 2964 741 1101 (UConn)
SMU 2787 696.75 1152 (SDSU)

Some observations:
  • It's no surprise that the top three are made up of conference newcomers. San Diego State, Boise State, and Houston, all rack up more than 5,000 miles in the air. Not surprisingly, the team based in San Diego has the longest trip in the conference called the Big East, traveling 2,500 miles to play UConn in Storrs. In fact, the Aztecs' shortest trip is 1,303 miles to face Houston, which itself is further than UCF, USF, and SMU's longest trips.
  • On the other hand, newcomer SMU covers the smallest distance, at "only" 2,787 miles. For reference, that's still greater than the distance (one way) between SMU's home city of Dallas and Whitehorse, in the Yukon.
But if teams are exhausted from traveling to their road games, they can at least take solace in the fact that the opponents they face at home will be exhausted from traveling to them. Here's the same table, only this time with the distances each school's conference opponents travel to face them.
School Miles Traveled Miles/Home Game Longest Trip
Boise State 6779 1694.75 2146 (Rutgers)
SDSU 6151 1537.75 2372 (Temple)
SMU 5076 1269 1487 (UConn)
Temple 4500 1125 2114 (BSU)
Connecticut 4448 1112 2500 (SDSU)
Louisville 3477 869.25 1799 (SDSU)
Memphis 3309 827.25 1564 (SDSU)
Cincinnati 3225 806.25 1666 (BSU)
USF 3126 781.5 947 (SMU)
Rutgers 3031 757.75 1409 (Houston)
UCF 2897 724.25 1037 (UConn)
Houston 2815 703.75 1303 (SDSU)

Once again, the teams from out west require the most travel: road games against Boise State, San Diego State, and SMU require the most time in the air. Interesting to note that Houston, near the top of the conference in terms of miles traveled, is last in the conference in opponent miles traveled: while the Cougars fly more than 10,000 miles to get to and from their road games, opponents need to travel just 5,600 to get to and from Houston.

I read an article about the challenges the NBA scheduler faced re-arranging the league schedule after last year's lockout. I remember thinking, "That sounds like a cool job."

Big East football scheduling? Not so much for some reason. Given the constraints of geography, it seems like someone will always end up getting screwed over. Don't get me wrong: I'm sure this is as close as possible to optimal, but that's what comes from an "eastern" conference spread across three time zones. Lots of travel means larger budgets, extra time away students spend out of class, bigger carbon footprints, you name it. And all so the Big East can drop down to "mid-major" designation in 2014. Yup, very rewarding.

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