By Sunday morning, the University of Tulsa football team will have accumulated enough airline miles to travel from New York to L.A., and still have more than 2,000 miles to spare.
Only a week after opening the season in East Lansing, Michigan — 881 miles from Tulsa — against Michigan State, TU heads to San Jose, California — 1,697 miles away — to play San Jose State at 8 p.m. Saturday in a game to be live streamed on ESPN3.
“It’s rough,” TU coach Philip Montgomery said. “We got back here probably — I don’t know — it was around 2 o’clock, I think, when the plane landed (from East Lansing). By the time you get back here, get off the bus and get everything, that’s another hour or more. Luckily we did play on a Friday so it gave them Saturday to kind of get their legs back underneath them.”
The difference in this California trip is more miles and less time. TU gained an hour in Michigan because of the time zone change, but the Hurricane will lose two hours in California.
“Going to the West Coast now is a totally different deal,” Montgomery said. “With the time change and all that, I don’t know if we’ll get back before 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning (Sunday). When you get out there the time change does affect you, and you’ve got to handle those things extremely well. (A) longer plane ride, obviously. You gotta make sure you’re hydrated and getting our legs back underneath us once we step off the plane there. There are some factors that go into it that obviously play a role, but we’ve got to be able to handle those as a team and move forward.”
As if a late kickoff and time change wasn’t enough to deter the Hurricane, TU also can’t even leave California from the same place it arrives. In October 2003, Mineta San José International Airport issued a curfew as part of its noise control program. The curfew blocks any flights from leaving San Jose between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. So when Saturday’s game ends well after 11 p.m., TU will take a bus to Oakland about 40 miles away, and fly home from there. That process could add an extra two hours to TU’s travel time.
“Hopefully we’ll get to rest up, but if not, it’s just something we have to add to the collection and throw on our shoulders,” receiver Keylon Stokes said. “That’s just something that we do. We just go with the flow. Whatever’s thrown at us, that’s just something we have to deal with. It’s just football.”