Call it ‘The Great Flight Fight’, or maybe the ‘Bus Brawl’.
But either one would mischaracterize the forum flare-up surrounding the basketball team’s travel plans for Saturday’s game versus Georgia.
This afternoon the Gators will board a bus bound for Athens, a trip sandwiched between last night’s victory and next Tuesday’s tough home game versus LSU.
So why a lengthy bus trip?
“I don’t make those decisions,” Donovan apparently stated. And a Gator beat writer’s tweeting of that quote set in motion a series of wrong presumptions and silly suggestions.
Billy must be angry.
These sort of short-sighted decisions will drive him away.
Florida doesn’t have the needed appreciation for the basketball program nor its coach.
“It is our job to best position the basketball program for success, and we work hard, together with the basketball staff to make the best possible decisions for the team,” Executive Associate Athletics Director Mike Hill says. “We have the best coach in America and would never do anything to intentionally make things more difficult for him to succeed.”
But what about Donovan’s comment? Does it not imply he is less than happy by this sudden change in plans?
But there is no change in plans, and that quote can certainly be misconstrued, Hill suggests.
“When Billy says ‘I don’t make those decisions’, he doesn’t mean it was thrust upon him,” Hill explains. “His staff works with us to make these decisions when we put together the travel schedule.”
Still, the question will be asked — Why, even with the basketball staff’s input, was a decision made to take the bus?
This one is a lay-up for Hill.
“Smaller regional jets are no longer available to anyone for charter travel. So, we have to fly bigger planes at a significantly higher cost than in the past— several hundred thousand dollars more,” he says.
But this is not about cost, and Hill is quick to remind fans that the program added no additional bus travel despite the new flight challenges.
To steal a page from Donovan’s famous commercial spot — it’s about logistics!
“We can’t fly into Athens because the runway there won’t accommodate the new plane size, “Hill reveals. “This means we would have to fly into Atlanta and bus an hour and a half to Athens.”
Between unloading the plane, loading the bus and then making the trek — more time is lost on a trip made for more complicated.
In reality, nearly every program handles the issues in similar fashion and virtually all have resort to commercial flights or bus travel at least a couple times per season. This season, Florida will have done so three times — Tallahassee, Sunrise and Athens.
But don’t feel too badly for the players. They arrive in style, even if by bus.
“Our players love riding the bus,” Hill says. “We get them a big sleeper bus so that these big guys can stretch their legs.
Stretching out? Sleeping?
This may not be so bad after all.
Heck, Florida bused it to South Carolina a season ago — and cruised to a comfy 26-point victory.
And so the ‘bus brawl’ seems far more forum fret than fight.