One of the big sticking points in the conference expansion talks is “Think of the poor students, and how far the women's field hockey team will need to travel.” I intend to evaluate that statement, and examine what difference, if any the proposed expansion scenarios have on it, as well as examine the effects of previous expansion (a.k.a Penn State).
|Colorado||Boulder, CO||920||880||1250||1240||1260||1300||1040||820||1360||1140||950||0||overall average|
As it stands now, the average distance between schools is 695 miles. Adding Texas and CU makes the max distance 2100 miles. Texas and Colorado are at least 800 miles away from every existing school, and already 950 miles from Boulder. And, it goes without saying, about 1200 miles from the Pacific. Adding CU and UT makes the new average 900 miles. On the surface, that’s a ton, but, by doing so, it allows the creation of an East and West conference, with the dividing line in Arizona or thereabouts. That should actually reduce the travel distance between in-conference schools. So what we could wind up with is some sort of Pac-8, and a South Western conference that has nothing to do with the Pacific. Or, given what’s going on today, anything and everything else.
The Big 10 is the conference we all know and love, and has a reasonable shape, making for much more manageable distances between schools. As it stands now, there is an average of 370 miles between schools, with Minnesota – Penn State the longest trip at about 900 miles. Note that Google maps is either aware of the Car Ferry, or assumes a Dukes-of-Hazzard-ish jump of Lake Michigan at Muskegon to get to Minneapolis and Madison. As always, chart:
|Champaign||Bloomington||Iowa City||Ann Arbor||East Lansing||Minneapolis||Evanston||Columbus||State College||West Lafayette||Madison||Lincoln||Columbia||South Bend|
|Michigan State||Ann Arbor||350||330||450||0||70||650||260||190||410||260||390||750||660||170|
|Penn State||State College||620||550||800||410||470||990||600||320||0||560||730||1100||860||500|
|Notre Dame||South Bend||200||200||300||170||150||500||110||280||500||150||240||600||450||0||overall average|
|pre minus PSU||262.2222||308.8889||345.5556||327.7778||301.1111||512.2222||217.7778||373.3333||248.8889||296.6667||319.4444|
It seems Missouri is less a given than it was yesterday, but I’ll leave it because it would make too much work to take it out. Adding those three makes the new average distance 400 miles, and Nebraska – Penn State is the long haul at 1100 miles. Once again, there would probably be East and West divisions in the conference to reduce the mileage even further, but a distance difference of 30 miles is pretty negligible.
Big-10 pre-Penn State
For those of you who have stuck with me this long, here’s the payoff. What effect would removing Penn State have on the distances? Or, how much effect did adding Penn State have originally? You can see that without Penn State, the average distance drops to 320 miles between teams, or a difference of about 50 miles.
What all this shows is that the net mileage difference from adding Nebraska, Missouri and Notre Dame would be less that the difference was just by adding Penn State, even without factoring in the divisional separation. The Pac-10, on the other hand, is already crazy, and adding anything east of Arizona is even more crazy. To put this in perspective, the CCHA has an exemption for any team that plays an Alaska team. Google maps says that it’s a 3800 mile drive from Ann Arbor to Fairbanks. The trip from Austin to Seattle is 2100 miles. Perhaps they will have exemptions for anyone making that trip.