After some reassuring noises yesterday from the Athletic Department that the LSU game would go forward Saturday as scheduled, now the word coming from the Rice Athletics Center is that USC, LSU and the SEC are seriously considering moving or postponing the game. The SEC Network has already decided to move its game day visit to Knoxville.
Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner addressed the media with remarks on Tuesday. "Certainly a game at LSU is not out of the realm of possibility as well," he said. The decision will come down in the next 24-48 hours. As most of you know, USC President Dr. Harris Pastides has cancelled classes through the end of the week.
Our Capital City and our state remain in severe extremis even now on Tuesday evening:
The rain may have stopped, but South Carolina is grappling with a host of new concerns. Dam breaks. Billions of dollars in damage. And rivers that still haven't crested.
Eighteen dams have failed and eight more are in danger. There are collapsing roads and flooded neighborhoods; we have had too many deaths along with some heroic rescues. It's a nightmare and its not going to be fixed by Saturday - we have a long, grueling haul ahead of us. When you take it all in (and it's hard to do even for the areas of the Palmetto State not as hard hit as the Midlands), the handwriting is on the wall that the game should not proceed at Williams-Brice Stadium. USC fans should embrace that with as much good grace as we can muster. After all, we are South Carolinians first.
As Ray Tanner explained, the logistics of getting fans safely to and from the game is a primary concern, not to mention having our already overtaxed first responders work traffic and crowd control. Pulling law enforcement and emergency medical personnel away from disaster relief is at best a questionable allocation of our resources, and at worst an indefensibly callous outcome.
It's times like these that football concerns are infinitesimal compared to bitter reality and harsh suffering that many of our friends and neighbors are struggling with today.
That being said - before any of us comprehended the extent of the destruction and loss of life wrought by Hurricane Joaquin - I had hoped this adversity might impel the Cocks to exert themselves to fight for their city and state; to be a beacon of hope to the beleaguered and the bereft - or at least take their minds off of suffering for a few minutes. I still hope that might be the case for the football team, but primarily we need to put our priorities in order. Pray for those who need our prayers and be thankful this massive storm did not strike the coastline.
All in all, it's the right decision to move the game. Frankly, I feel sure that the decision has been made, and the final announcement will come once the football authorities have either decided to cancel it, or move it. My hunch is that the likeliest outcome is for # 7 LSU to host us in Baton Rouge. LSU officials say Tiger Stadium is ready. While we have reached out to the Panthers to see if Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium is free, initial indications are that it's probably not feasible due to the NASCAR race scheduled for the weekend.
Our friends at And the Valley Shook - SBNation's LSU blog - do a great job of going through the available options; they think moving the game to Baton Rouge is the least likely alternative; however, it may make the most sense. In any event, I agree with them that its unfathomable the SEC would strike the game from the calendar; it would hurt Louisiana State's national title hopes to cancel a league contest and limit them to a 10 game regular season (remember the Tigers already lost their home opener against McNeese State due to inclement weather of their own). We have to be ready to play wherever we're sent.
My feeling is unless Bank of America Stadium can clear us immediately, then let's go ahead and accept LSU's gracious offer to host and start making preparations to travel to the Pelican State. The folks of Louisiana know a thing or two about suffering from the aftermath of tropical weather. We can talk about the on the field implications later after the decision is finalized. Hopefully, the Fightin' Gamecocks will rally wherever they take the field.