The Arizona Wildcats will be making their first road trip of the season this weekend, traveling to El Paso, Texas to take on the UTEP Miners for a Friday night showdown.
Their method of transportation? The bus.
The Wildcats will take the 317-mile drive — roughly a 4 1⁄2 hour trip — down I-10 to get to El Paso, but then will fly back to Tucson after the game.
Those arrangements “save a little money,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday.
“It’s a little bit of a long ride, but our guys will probably sleep the whole way down,” he said.
It does seem odd that Arizona, a Pac-12 program, is busing to a game that’s more than just a couple hours away.
In an era where recruits’ decisions are often influenced by amenities like uniforms and locker rooms, taking a rather long bus ride to a road game seems like a bad look for an Arizona program that already has enough difficulty attracting high-caliber recruits.
Former Arizona safety Paul Magloire certainly seems surprised by the decision.
Then again, cutting costs does make some sense for the UA considering the 2015-16 fiscal year was the first time the school’s athletic department failed to profit since 2005.
Plus, the university is expected to continue upgrading its athletic facilities, including multi-million dollar upgrades to Hillenbrand Stadium and Hillenbrand Aquatic Center on top of an indoor practice facility for the football team, which is estimated to cost $15 million by itself.
The good news is that Friday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN, which at least will put Arizona at the forefront of the college football world for a night.
“Moving the game to Friday night I thought was a chance to get on national TV and have something a little bit different,” Rodriguez said.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire