By Brian McInnis
Gib Arnold had to do a double take when he saw the final version of the Big West portion of the 2013-14 schedule.
This week's games — the last of the regular season — feature a bizarre travel itinerary for Hawaii. After the Rainbow Warriors play at UC Santa Barbara (4 p.m. HST on ESPNU) today, they must race Cal State Fullerton back to the islands for Saturday's senior night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
UH can't fly out after today's game, which the 'Bows need to take if they still want a chance at finishing third. They will drive back from Santa Barbara to a hotel right next to LAX and fly out Friday morning. They'll practice immediately after getting back to the islands Friday evening. It's entirely possible Fullerton will get in first.
Here's what Arnold had to say on the matter when asked if he would bring up the schedule quirk with the Big West, which handles conference scheduling.
"I will bring it up," he said. "There were, I think, four different scheduling changes. This schedule (pattern this week) was not on the previous three that I was able to look at. Our last coaches meeting ... they handed out the new and improved schedule. And that was the first time I noticed it. I didn't even notice it. One of the other coaches brought it up and said, 'you see what they're doing to ya?' I looked at it, and you know, it was pretty much done with. That became the permanent schedule.
"I think it's necessary to be brought up," he continued. "We're going to go 18,000 miles in eight days. That's an awful lot of miles."
The schedule is similarly difficult for the Wahine basketball team, which must depart after tonight's senior night game against UCSB for a mainland contest at Fullerton on Saturday. From there, Laura Beeman's team will remain on the mainland for the Big West tournament next week.
Hawaii isn't the only team to be affected by a mixed home-away schedule this week around the league, but UH's situation is, of course, a little unique compared to the rest of the California-based league. And opponents like Santa Barbara and Fullerton must negotiate a similar travel burden flying out to the islands right before or right after their home game.
Still, there's no comparing this travel to some of the hurdles required in the old WAC.
Much would be alleviated by having an even number of teams in the league (10 would seem to be ideal) for travel partners, like what UH enjoyed last season with Cal State Northridge. But until the Big West takes on a team like, say, Cal State Bakersfield or Sacramento State, travel could be bumpy for the foreseeable future.