Hurricanes leaving the plane grounded for UCF trip

October 16, 2009

Except this time, the route will change.

And the buses will roll much farther along.

Part of a plan to trim at least $150,000 from the team's travel budget, Miami won't use a charter plane when traveling to face Central Florida on Saturday night, taking a caravan of six buses instead for the 3-hour trip to Orlando.

The Hurricanes will stay grounded when going to Tampa to face South Florida on Nov. 28, making about a 4-hour bus ride then.


"It's the same thing, at least when you look at the time involved," Miami coach Randy Shannon said earlier this week. "We might even get there quicker, get home a little earlier after the game because we won't be going through security and things like that. Get on the bus and go."

Typically, the Hurricanes bus from their Coral Gables campus to Miami International Airport, a short trip expedited further by a police escort. Once at the airport, they face the same federal screening guidelines as commercial passengers, even though they're flying on a chartered jet. It can take an hour or more to load the bags, load the plane, get everyone seated and get on their way.

Not this week: By the time the Hurricanes would have been wheels-up, they'll be about halfway to Orlando.

"It shouldn't be too bad," linebacker Darryl Sharpton said. "Orlando's not that far. I'll probably just take a nap."

Some other schools have made similar concessions this season, two of the most notable examples in California. San Jose State took a bus to Southern California earlier this year, and California is driving to UCLA this weekend.

Teams and schools are bracing for more driving, and less flying, in the future, especially when talking about non-revenue-producing sports with already tight budgets.

Shannon offered to cancel the charter flights for the team's two shortest road trips of the season.

Room, board, tuition and fees for a year of study at Miami can run about $50,000. That doesn't mean the school is sitting on a pile of money to burn, however.

The university's athletic department devised a 44-point plan early this year to get through the challenging economic times, and athletic director Kirby Hocutt urged his coaches to spend wisely. Shannon said he didn't want the football program - which generates, and spends, far more than any other Miami team - to not adhere to those wishes.

"It's no different," Shannon said. "We'll leave here at 1:30. We leave at 1:30 anyway. ... And we'll get to the hotel around 5:30. No different. It's all the same."

Miami is making some concessions to ensure player comfort.

Instead of four buses, Miami added two more this week, so every player can get his own row and have some room to stretch out. Those who typically get middle seats on jet trips - yes, the Hurricanes fly on a regular plane, and yes, some players do have to squeeze into the dreaded middle spot - won't have any arm-rest battles this week.

There is one drawback, however.

"Seniors," said left tackle Jason Fox, "always get to fly in the first-class seats."