February 15, 2009

Roundtable: Is Miami riding the bus a big deal?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in the sport.

This week's question: Miami announced this week that instead of flying to road games against USF in Tampa and UCF in Orlando, it will charter buses. Is this a big deal?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
The university saves almost $150,000 by busing to those games. In my opinion, the greater controversy would be if Miami did fly. It's not as if the Hurricanes will be traveling on a yellow school bus, as so many of those players did when they were in high school. They surely will be on a luxury bus with comfortable seats, a restroom and DVD players to watch a movie or two or game tape on their way directly to the team hotel. That's not exactly roughing it. Besides, if you take a flight, by the time the team travels to the airport, makes the flight, then buses to the hotel, the total travel time won't be dramatically different. Some could argue that rivals will use that against Miami in recruiting. But a lot of teams take bus trips to their closer games. Florida takes the bus to Jacksonville to play Georgia and to games at Florida State. Miami shouldn't be criticized for that decision. It should be applauded.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
It may make Miami look cheap, but the move makes a lot of sense in these economic times. I always think anytime a school is within a five- or six-hour drive from a game destination, it should load up the bus. I don't think driving instead of flying will impact how the Hurricanes perform once they arrive for the game. And that is the most vital factor to consider in this equation.

David Fox's answer:
When I first heard about this, I was surprised Miami didn't plan to bus to these games anyway. Flying from Miami to Orlando and Tampa? That's unnecessary, especially for $140,000. Miami should be busing on these trips in the first place. The Hurricanes will take flak for this from rival fans and on the recruiting trail, but short road trips by bus may become the norm if the economy remains in such bad shape. Really, I'm more surprised Miami is playing at UCF and at USF at all, let alone in the same season. As a Florida native, I'd like to see more of these in-state matchups, but the Big Three have too much to lose by facing to their directional brothers, particularly USF. Kudos to Miami for not only scheduling the game but also cutting back on excess.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
On the face of it, it sounds embarrassing. But it's fiscally prudent. The school is going to save $144,000 and take some four-hour bus rides instead of a one-hour flight. It's not a big deal. If I'm a Miami fan, the bigger issue is why the Hurricanes are playing at UCF in the first place; that's a no-win proposition for UM.

Steve Megargee's answer:
Miami's decision could have a big impact off the field because this might represent one of the first of many examples of an athletic department finding high-profile ways to tighten their budgets in these troubling economic times. Maybe other teams also will decide to bypass air travel if they're playing a road game against a team that's only about a four- or five-hour drive away. If this recession lasts for another year or two, maybe we'll see teams use the economy as a reason to pull out of intersectional games in future seasons. But I don't think this will have much of an effect on the results of Miami's games with UCF and USF. The Hurricanes obviously would prefer to fly to Tampa or Orlando, but a four-hour bus trip shouldn't cause them to have a sluggish start in either game. This trip won't be quite as convenient as it seemed when these games were scheduled, but it still doesn't compare to a cross-country flight in which a team travels across a couple of time zones.

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