If you think trying to book a flight for yourself is tough, try finding a flight for an entire football team. Don’t forget about the hotel reservation either.
In his eighth year as director of football operations, Mike Sinquefield has been through what he calls “organized chaos.”
“In less than 48 hours we basically have taken our entire operation, shipped it across the country, played a football game and shipped it back home,” Sinquefield said.
Sinquefield, who is in his 14th year with TCU, said everything starts when he gets the football schedule in late April.
“If it’s a place I have never been before, in the spring I’ll get on a plane and go to a hotel to look at it,” Sinquefield said. “I am going to figure out time lines from hotel to airport to stadium to places in between.”
Sinquefield said the team uses American Airlines when it flies and Coach America when it takes the bus. Players and coaches either stay at the Marriott or Hilton hotels, he said.
Those two hotel chains are ideal because they accommodate large groups and they have staffs geared to sports teams, Sinquefield said. For home games this season, the team stays at the Arlington Hilton on the eve of the game, he added.
Sinquefield said the team has a company haul a trailer full of equipment back and forth. The trailer remains in the driver’s possession until it gets back to Fort Worth, he said.
Sinquefield said if two away games are scheduled within a week of each other and the distance between the two sites is less than the previous site and TCU, the trailer goes to the next destination. This will happen for the Utah game after TCU plays UNLV, he said.
Head coach Gary Patterson said he wished the team never had to travel long distances.
Patterson said he likes traveling by bus, as the team did for the Oklahoma and SMU games, because it allows the team to get back home quickly.
Out of 12 total regular season games this year, TCU will only take a plane four times.
Sinquefield said he’d rather be 1,000 miles from home than in Oklahoma or at SMU, adding that he wished every game were at home.
Senior linebacker Jason Phillips said the team atmosphere on a bus or plane is mixed. He said some sleep, some listen to music and some joke around.
“I usually sit around a handful of guys, but we kind of sit around and don’t say much when we travel,” Phillips said.
To help keep the coaching staff and players organized, Sinquefield gives players pocket itineraries which includes roommate assignments, hotel information, meeting locations and travel tips.
“It’s all business for us,” Sinquefield said.
“Most of the time all they really need is a toothbrush,” Sinquefield said. “I am going to make sure that when they go to the hotel all they have to do is walk in and go to their room.”
Sinquefield said all roommates are assigned by preference and position so players will be reminded where both have to be at all times. For example, quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Marcus Jackson are roommates, he said.
Sinquefield said all meals are provided at the hotel, but players may receive $15 if they travel during a meal.
“When the game’s over, we get on the bus and head to the airport regardless of what time it is,” Sinquefield said.
So what is the best thing about traveling?
“Food,” Phillips said. “Sometimes I like to see how good the food is. I know Wyoming can be a little disappointing.”
Phillips said his favorite away game is UNLV and his least favorite is Wyoming.
After returning home from a game, Sinquefield said he often gets an appreciative e-mail from the hotel about how the players represented themselves.