It was announced Sunday afternoon that the West Virginia Mountaineers football team had accepted a bid to the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl to take on the Utah Utes on December 26. The coaches and athletic directors of both schools briefly spoke with the media Sunday evening via phone conference, where West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons was present and spoke about the distance Mountaineers fans travel for games during the regular season and now the post-season.
The Mountaineers, as well as their fans, have greatly increased the distance necessary to travel since joining the Big 12 several years ago. Back in the Big East days, traveling to an away game was no more than a car ride away, with the occasional flight. Now, every other weekend the team and fans must travel hundreds and thousands of miles in order to get to their opponents.
The question was posed whether West Virginia’s vigilant fan base would be fine with a bowl game being in the heart of Texas, yet another flight and time zone change, just as away games are for West Virginia throughout the season. Athletic director Lyons made it clear that he has high hopes for Mountaineer Nation to continue the trend of traveling well to bowl games, just as they have done in years past.
“I think our fans are used to traveling around the holidays for bowl games,” Lyons remarked. “They’ve done it for years . . . I think Mountaineer Nation is very supportive of our football program, and hopefully they will come out and support us even if it’s a little bit further away.”
Lyons is confident that the fans will travel to Dallas for the post-Christmas bowl game this season, noting that this is a familiar situation for fans around the holidays. The football team has been in bowl games 16 out of the last 18 years, with many of these games requiring holiday-time travel. Lyons obviously feels that fans will travel and continue to support the football team as they have done in post-seasons past.