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Hurricane Matthew forces changes to state football games

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Hurricane Matthew has forced some Florida schools to find another day to play their scheduled games. It must be said at the beginning that people’s lives and well-being are what is most important. College football comes a bit further down the list.

However, the games are scheduled and now rescheduled. As of Thursday afternoon, three games have been affected.

Tulane had a Friday date with the Central Florida Knights in an American Conference matchup, but that game was postponed on Wednesday until Nov. 5. Both schools have no other games scheduled on that Saturday.

“Taking into account all the latest projections for Hurricane Matthew, we have to keep the safety of everyone involved in these events at the forefront of our decision-making,” said UCF Vice-President and Director of Athletics Daniel J. White.

Charlotte was scheduled to face Florida Atlantic in a Conference USA game in Boca Raton. That game has been moved from 3:30 p.m. Saturday until “tentatively” noon on Sunday.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who is in the path of Hurricane Matthew,” said FAU Athletic Director Pat Chun. “We thank our friends at Charlotte for their understanding and assistance.”

The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats were scheduled to travel to South Carolina State on Saturday, but that game has been postponed. No make-up date was announced.

The Florida Gators game versus LSU is scheduled for noon on Saturday in Gainesville. A final determination on the status of that game is to be decided Thursday afternoon.

All that is known for certain is the game will be played in Gainesville, according to Gators’ officials. The campus was being shut down Thursday afternoon.

At least one columnist was hoping the game would be switched to Baton Rouge. In a Thursday New Orleans Times-Picayune piece, Ron Higgins correctly stated the Gators “desperately don’t want to move Saturday’s game to LSU.”

Doing so would “give up the home field advantage of their beloved ‘Swamp,’ which may very well live up to its name,” Higgins added. He then reminded readers that last year South Carolina did move their game against LSU from Columbia due to flooding.

Gamecock fans were treated very well, he said, unlike the treatment visitors receive in Gainesville.

The status of the Florida State vs. Miami game in South Florida was still uncertain as of Thursday afternoon.

4:00 p.m. update: The decision on the Florida vs. LSU game was pushed back to an indefinite time. However, politicians are weighing in. Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana has Tweeted that Florida should move the game out of Gainesville.  “Urging Fla. Gov. to move the #LSUvsUF game. The UF Ath. Dir. is still trying to keep the game in Gainesville.”

The Tweet was followed by hastags #GeauxTigers, #StaySafe and, #CmonMan.

4:30 p.m. update: The Florida vs. LSU game will not be played on Saturday. The make up date was not announced.

“We have to be sensitive to the possible imminent disruption to the state of Florida and in particular the Gainesville and surrounding area,” said Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey.”

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at [email protected]

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