CU Buffs’ return to Big 12 has some parents singing Pac-12 blues

BOULDER — Kevin Moschetti will go to Moon and back to watch his daughter play soccer for the Buffs. Although from his home Irvine, Calif., Morgantown, W.Va., might as well be the Mare Tranquillitatis.

“As far as travel, sure it’s a bummer,” said Moschetti, whose daughter Angelina is a freshman defender for the CU women’s soccer team. “(Angelina) played club soccer in both the Seattle area and in Southern California, so she had friends and former teammates from every former Pac-12 school. And we had parent friends at all those schools, too. So we’re looking forward to being able to reunite with them and to (be) around to watch her play.”

Last season, the Buffs played twice in Northern California and twice in Washington. This fall, they’re slated to play once in Southern California, twice in Washington and twice in Oregon.

Suddenly, the news of CU re-joining the Big 12 next year, a league they’d left in 2010, could make the 2023 regular season, which kicks off Thursday night against UNC, feel like something of a farewell tour for those coastal moms and dads.

“It’s just going to be different,” Moschetti continued. “We have some friends who have kids at TCU and other Big 12 schools as well, so it’ll be great to be able to see them, too, but yeah, I guess it’s a little sad. And disappointing. But onward and upward, I guess.”

As part of CU’s switch from the Pac-12 to the Big 12, the Moschetti family travel budget could be surging upward as well.

On Oct. 14, the Buffs visit USC, a match Kevin and his family could drive to, at a distance of roughly 40 miles each way.

Conversely, a flight from LAX to Orlando, home of UCF, for that weekend, non-stop, could cost anywhere from $178-$458 per round-trip ticket.

To Morgantown, via a flight to Pittsburgh? $181 per person, and then you’ve got to navigate a 70-mile drive to the West Virginia’s campus after that.

Houston? $124-$420 per ticket. Cincinnati? $419 per ticket. Oklahoma City? $631 per ticket.

As for the major airports that CU’s Southern California alums and fans won’t be using for league-related travel after next June, San Francisco checks in at $98-$318 per ticket for the second weekend of October. Seattle? $168-258. Portland? $198-418.

“We all know about the revenue-generating sports,” Moschetti said. “We know we would be the tail wagging the dog if they were consulting with us (parents). I’m a businessperson. I get it. But nonetheless, it’s a little bit sad and disappointing.”

CU is set to leave a regional, provincial conference for a national one. From a business perspective, Moschetti completely understands — football, and, more specifically, football on television, drives the Buffs’ economic train. Deion Sanders is the tide that’s supposed to lift all CU boats.

But Olympic sports parents and family members have to figure out how to swim with the current while not drowning in gas money at the same time.

“The one thing that’s very disturbing about this (is), the two entities that nobody — and I mean ‘nobody’ being the administrators that are the people that (make) the moves on this stuff — they didn’t ask the fans. And they didn’t ask the athletes,” former Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson told The Post recently.

During the Buffs’ fall sports media day on campus this past Friday, CU women’s soccer was represented by a pair of older Californian players — a fifth-year senior in midfielder Amaya Gonzalez and a grad student in midfielder Jade Babcock-Chi. The latter in particular sounded a little melancholy over the likely dissolution of the Pac-12, depending on how the four “survivors” — Stanford, Cal, Oregon State and Washington State — ultimately decide to cast their respective lots.

“For soccer, I think that the Pac-12 is one of the best conferences you’d be in,” said Babcock-Chi, who hails from Del Mar, Calif. “And I was really adamant that I (wanted) to play in the Pac-12 and I’m really glad that I got to … but I think it’ll definitely be different, now, with all the adjustment of conferences. But from my personal experience, I was really looking forward to playing the Pac-12 and I’m still really excited that I am part of the Pac-12.”

Dreux Valenti feels her pain. The long time Orange County prep track coach ran at USC some three decades ago, and daughter Whitney is currently a redshirt junior distance runner on the Buffs’ cross country squad.

“The biggest disappointment is (that) the Pac-12 is so storied,” the elder Valenti said. “After this year, I will never be watching Pac-12 basketball on ESPN and hear Bill Walton say, ‘The Conference of Champions’ 112 times. That’s something that’s just going to be a memory now.”

CU women’s soccer coach Danny Sanchez said handwringing over the Buffs’ decision to turn away from Los Angeles, the Bay, Portland and Seattle and toward the eastern three-quarters of the country was a “first-world problem.” Especially given CU’s status over the last 12 years as the most eastern outpost of the old Pac-12.

“As far as moving into the Big 12, everybody’s talking about the travel, travel, travel,” the coach said. “We take a charter bus to DIA. We take almost all these non-stop flights to the (destination). We get picked up on a charter bus and (stay at) this super nice Marriott where we get our dinner, and we play.

“And, you know, we always joke when (CU was) in the Big 12 before, (it was) in the (Midwest), when we’re in the Pac-12, we’re in the west, and now we’re back in the Midwest. And Boulder hasn’t moved an inch.

“So if you really look at the travel, it’s not drastically different. And I think that there will be some excitement to go to different places and to play in different venues against different (opponents).”

Moschetti doesn’t fear change. Well, at least not as much as he does some of his credit card statements, potentially, down the road.

“We have some friends at TCU and we have some friends at Texas and …” Moschetti said.

He paused, chuckling softly.

“Wait. Texas is going to the SEC. So there goes that.

“I guess we’ll make new friends.”

New friends. New conferences. New rivals. New maps. New roads, long and windy, curling toward the sunrise.

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