Northern Colorado at Florida game canceled

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The day after Florida moved up the kickoff of its home-opening football game, the decision was made to cancel Saturday’s game against Northern Colorado because of the threat of Hurricane Irma.

“We have been in constant communication this week with university and government officials,” Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said. “As the hurricane’s track has approached the state of Florida, it’s become obvious that playing a football game is not the right thing to do.

“The focus of our state and region needs to be on evacuations and relief efforts. There is a tremendous amount of stress currently on the roads of this state, and the availability of gas, water and other supplies are at critical levels. Playing a college football game Saturday would only add to that stress. Gainesville is also close to some of Florida’s heaviest traffic points this week, specifically Interstate 75, which is a key statewide evacuation route.”

The game was originally scheduled for 7:30 p.m. It was moved up early Wednesday afternoon due to Hurricane Irma.

“I know how disappointed our team is, I know how excited they were to go play this game,” UF coach Jim McElwain said on his radio show. “Our administration, my hat’s off.

“We go through life understanding that it’s not always about us. It’s about other people and what we can give up ourselves for other people. And in this case, with the officials up in Tallahassee. The resources, the the lack of gas. The people exiting and going north, just probably felt like this wasn’t the right thing.

“For us, you know you adjust. And we’ve been through it once. What we’ve got to do is hunker down and give of ourselves for the people in distress and what may occur. And when this passes, get ready to play Tennessee in The Swamp next week.”

A typical Florida football game enlists the services of more than 3,300 working personnel, 17 government agencies and outside vendors who bus employees from Jacksonville and Orlando to Gainesville.
University Athletic Association officials had worked with Northern Colorado to have it charter a flight to Gainesville on Friday, instead of the Bears’ original plans of traveling commercially Thursday to Tampa.
Because the schools do not share a common open date, the game will not be rescheduled.
Ticket refund information will be communicated to those who have purchased tickets to the game, UF said.

It’s the second consecutive season a hurricane has affected UF’s football schedule. Last season’s Florida-LSU game in The Swamp was postponed due to the threat of Hurricane Matthew. The decision to postpone was made after discussions between UF and the Southeastern Conference. The Oct. 8 game was rescheduled  for Nov. 19 in Baton Rouge following negotiations between the two schools and the conference.

“Every possible effort was made to play this game, but given circumstances, playing game wasn’t right thing to do. Stay safe, Floridians,” Stricklin later wrote on his Twitter account.

Florida will open its home schedule vs. Tennessee on Sept. 16.

22 COMMENTS

    • I love our GATORS, but we might have avoided another early season loss. I don’t mean the game, I am referring to the storm and everything that encompasses it. Maybe Florida teams all need to have the first few games as away games to start the season. Just a thought. I hope everyone stays safe and no lives are lost. GO GATORS!

  1. Just like last year, the ‘fraidy cat UF administration pulled the trigger at least 24 hours earlier than needed. Spare me the “it’s about saving lives” hand wringing – real leadership means making the call when needed and not before (I live on the coast in the hurricane cone, so I’m not insensitive to the danger of this storm). If cancellation is needed, do it when absolutely necessary, and not as a preventive. This is plain sorry, and emblematic of another snakebit year.

  2. This was the right decision but I am sure we will here from some of the haters that this was due to us being scared to play N Colorado. Really hate that we don’t get another game under our belt before we play UT

  3. Wow. I guess I will try to explain since this dude isn’t here. Gainesville and the surrounding area is in complete gridlock right now. Gas stations are out. It is taking half an hour to drive half a mile. I-75 was snaking along YESTERDAY. I made the mistake of getting on and had to take the first exit I could get off on and make my way through random roads. I did not attempt it today — I can’t imagine how bad it is. This really is about lives guy. People will be evacuating north with more and more urgency and people WILL be dying on the roads. People will have heart attacks and ambulances will not be able to get to them. You really think UF is scared of playing Northern Colorado? Gameday traffic over here is already atrocious — imagine how much worse it will be with this evacuation. This game is not being cancelled because of the hurricane conditions. We already know Gainesville will not even get tropical force conditions until late Saturday or early Sunday. It’s about not congesting the escape routes.

  4. Stricklin did attempt to move the game to Auburn, but logistics was the issue. It’s easier for a Ga Southern team to play their game at Legion Field in Birmingham than to host the Gators. It’s probable you might have more Auburn fans at the game than Gator fans simple because this is one game the fans wouldn’t travel for. The traffic in Alabama is very heavy with evacuees and most hotels along the interstates are full. I commend Stricklin for trying but this was the best decision.