Originally written on Pitt Blather  |  Last updated 9/14/14
Since everyone is still bummed about yesterday’s loss, here’s a distraction. For the most part, I haven’t given much thought to our erstwhile Backyard Brawl brethren. Still certain stories catch the eye. Turns out those travel burdens in the Big 12 are as onerous as expected. If not more so. To the point where the Big 12 may have to help. West Virginia University’s athletic department and the Big 12 Conference have agreed to attempt to make some travel changes to accommodate the problems the Mountaineers faced during their first season in the league. Athletic Director Oliver Luck says the league offered no guarantees because “scheduling is always a challenge” but the league has agreed to attempt to make life on the road easier in a number of areas when it can. WVU geographically is out of place in the Big 12, with every trip not only being of 1,700 miles round trip or more but fighting a time zone change which costs them an hour returning to Morgantown. Football did not present as much of a problem as basketball, with weekly trips and mostly weekend games, but, according to Luck, the league was agreeable to trying to arrange it so the Mountaineers do not have to travel on back-to-back weeks for conference games during the season. The Big 12 has to be as helpful as possible to the Hoopies. Oh, they aren’t going anywhere, but if the Big 12 ever hopes to snag a school from the ACC — as WV message boarders often predict to be imminent — then they need to make it appear as if the travel problems are not insurmountable and screwing teams in the Eastern timezone that happen to be over 1700 miles from the rest of the conference members. So the Big 12 will play around with its rules on travel. Try and find some way to accommodate the needs of the student athletes — stop snickering this involves more than the basketball team. Not to mention — since the story did its best not to — the way to reduce the cost for multiple trips. That’s the big reason for considering relaxing conference rules on how long a team can be away from its campus — which is for making sure the kids can actually get to class. All those trips add up. Then there is this: To foster a more family-friendly game day experience, West Virginia University athletic officials are setting aside one section at Milan Puskar Stadium. In family-friendly section, all spitting must be done into a cup. Dubbed the “Family FunZone,” the seating section will be alcohol-free and cater to fans who would like to bring their children to home football games. And by “alcohol-free” they mean, you just have to bring your own. Matt Wells, assistant athletic director for marketing and sales, said the new section was a response to fan feedback. Wells said officials have been focusing on ways to improve the fan experience on game days. Since officials introduced stadium beer sales in 2011, Wells said, some fans have asked for an alcohol-free seating section. Coming soon, meth-free seating. “Some of the feedback we heard as a department was to provide some type of area where it’s alcohol-free, more family-friendly and encourages fans to watch their language,” Wells said. “Encourages fans to watch their language.” Do you want them drunk and unintelligible to complete incoherence, or do you want them sober enough that the expletives are understandable? Make up your mind. WVU fans have gained a reputation for bad behavior over the years. In 2011, Athletic Director Oliver Luck had to ask fans to stop wearing T-shirts that said “WEST F*****VIRGINIA” to games. After last year’s WVU-Texas football game, more than 40 fires were set in Morgantown. Dozens of police officers in riot gear had to use pepper spray and tear gas to disperse a crowd of about 1,000 in the Sunnyside section of town. This whole article is fantastic. I am so happy it exists. The university has countered with tactics designed to cut down on rowdiness. Go on… Last year, the school introduced Goodwill City Ambassadors to greet opposing teams, and law enforcement officials increased patrol efforts. And that worked so well with the aforementioned Texas game. The 2011 introduction of beer sales itself was part of a broader strategy to keep people in the stadium and away from excessive drinking at tailgate parties. Methadone clinics and needle exchanges work on the same principle.
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