COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- I remember those long-ago days when college conferences were founded on concepts such as natural rivalries and geography. I miss those days, even if they aren't completely over.
Air Force is considering bolting from the Mountain West Conference, where it currently tangles against neighbors Colorado State, Wyoming and New Mexico.
The Falcons could soon compete in the Big East Conference, where it would travel two time zones to compete against Connecticut, Rutgers, Cincinnati, South Florida, West Virginia and Louisville.
Does this probable move make sense?
Does this move follow the current crazed thinking in college sports?
I realize it's out of fashion to talk about geography, but I'm going to talk about it anyway.
On Nov. 12, a devoted Air Force fan in the Springs can hop into his or her car and drive a little more than three hours to watch the Falcons against the Wyoming Cowboys at Laramie.
Two weeks later, the same fan can drive two hours to Fort Collins to watch what once was, and what could again become, an enticing rivalry game against Colorado State.
If Air Force joins the Big East as a football-only member, Falcons fans will face epic journeys to Connecticut (1,985 miles), the Rutgers campus in New Jersey (1,765 miles), Cincinnati (1,164 miles), the South Florida campus in Tampa (1,842 miles), West Virginia (1,463 miles) and Louisville (a mere 1,090-mile drive).
I understand the concept of air travel. I also understand the difficulty of traveling to Storrs, Conn. In my former life, I covered the Big East for 13 seasons before returning to my home state of Colorado.
Let me offer this kind slice of advice:
Good luck finding your way to the West Virginia campus.
The casual Air Force fan who watches a few games each season on TV will barely notice the Falcons' flight to the Big East. For these fans, all that will change is the uniforms.
For those fans who truly adore the Falcons, the move to the Big East will be a disaster. An expensive disaster. Flying to Big East destinations will severely drain the budget.
Geography matters. Air Force officials can run away from this truth, but the truth has this strange habit of remaining the truth.
Air Force needs more deeply engaged football fans. Air Force needs more of these fans to travel to Falcons games. Fans who are truly fanatics tend to produce more genuine fans. A move to the Big East will serve as a punch in the stomach to fans in the Springs who care deeply about Air Force sports.
If the Falcons play football in the Big East, they will be joined by a few dozen fans at opposing stadiums. The Falcons will have flown away, far away, from their Colorado fan base.
Yes, this follows the current fad in college sports, which dictates programs pay no attention to ancient rivalries or geography or common sense.
This is, no doubt, a misguided fad.
Joining the Big East to play football would be a long journey to the wrong destination.