Evacuee scenes set off move to cancel Florida home opener

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"What we’ve got to do is hunker down and give of ourselves for the people in distress and what may occur," UF coach Jim McElwain said Thursday after Saturday's game was called off. [The Associated Press]

Scott Stricklin knew Tuesday night the Florida home opener Saturday would be in jeopardy. Jim McElwain knew Thursday morning.

On Thursday afternoon, any hopes of playing the Gator home opener were vanquished under the weight of evacuations.

With the roads clogged with people trying to escape Hurricane Irma and convenience stores looking like used car lots, the University Athletic Association decided to cancel UF’s game with Northern Colorado.

It was the second straight year Florida has lost a home game to a hurricane and the third home game that has been lost in four seasons to a storm.

“We really wanted to play the game, but everywhere we turned it wasn’t a good answer,” said Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin. “As (Thursday) went on, it became more and more obvious it wasn’t going to work.”

Stricklin said that even when it was announced Wednesday that the game had been moved up from 7:30 p.m. to noon, he knew it was still in jeopardy.

“(On Tuesday) I was driving past a convenience store on University and it looked like a valet parking lot,” Stricklin said. “I thought, ‘Oh, wow.’ I knew this was something different.”

McElwain said he had a sinking feeling when he drove to work Thursday at 6 a.m. and saw the congested northbound lane on I-75.

“Our guys really wanted to play the game,” McElwain said, “but when you sit back and think about the people affected and the first responders and such, there really wasn’t much of a choice.”

Florida will now have a Saturday off before facing Tennessee at home on Sept. 16 with only one game of preparation.

“It’s a huge challenge,” McElwain said. “This group has had some tough lessons. It just makes you tougher.”

He and his staff went to work Thursday night on the Vols and will have a rare Sunday practice because Irma is expected to be in the area Monday and the university will be closed.

“Then, we’ll re-evaluate,” McElwain said.

Florida considered several options before completely pulling the plug on the game.

Stricklin called Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs about possibly playing the game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn is at Clemson on Saturday. UF also considered several other cities, including Atlanta.

“But in the end, why would we tell people not to travel and then put our team on the road?” he said.

Another idea — play the game at The Swamp without any fans. But, Stricklin said, it would be difficult to tell fans to stay home but bring Northern Colorado in and say everything would be fine.

UF finally decided late Thursday afternoon to cancel the game with no makeup. The details of Northern Colorado’s guarantee of $625,000 for appearing in Gainesville have yet to be worked out.

“They have been a great partner,” Stricklin said. “We’re going to take care of them.”

The Bears were set to fly to Tampa on Thursday and fly out of Tampa on Sunday, but with Irma approaching Florida found the school a charter that would fly directly to Gainesville on Friday and out immediately after the game.

Stricklin said UF received no pressure from the state of Florida to cancel the game.

Ticket refund information will be communicated to those who have purchased tickets to the game.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Watch it be a colossal joke like last year. Florida won’t have to lose the game when this thing turns like they always do Florida will be the loser once again. Nothing but mass hysteria over some wind and rain, just another excuse for the government to go in and steal your stuff and then not let you go back to your house.

    • Watch it Randy, no dissent from mass opinion is permitted here. Any hint of disagreement with the official position means a lot of name calling. Ask Cory, he’ll tell you what opinion you’re allowed to have 😂.

    • Is see you are still trolling Pat. You were called A name because you were being insulting. I don’t agree with it, name calling a troll doesn’t ever help anything and I wasn’t the one who did it, but you brought it upon yourself. Now I, on the other hand, explained to you in rational terms just why that game was cancelled. I don’t see any acknowledgement from you, I don’t see any, “Oh, got it,” I just see more trolling. Now show some of that “cool reasoning” you were asking for and realize you were wrong, acknowledge it, and move on. Prove you are not a troll and people shouldn’t be name calling you.

      To reiterate, the city and Gainesville has been in gridlock now since Wednesday. I will give you some facts and here’s hoping you can swallow your pride and get it.
      Wednesday: I made the mistake of getting on I-75. Had to get off ASAP because it was going at about 20 mph (and this was not during afternoon traffic). When I got home, it took me 20 minutes to get past a light next to I-75 during the last 1/3 of a mile of my route.
      Thursday: I had a chore in town after work. As soon as I got on 13th street (near campus) I realized I had to do a U turn and forget about my chore. Traffic was worse than any game-day traffic I have every seen. The 3 mile drive home was gridlocked the entire time and again I do not get off during heavy traffic time.
      Friday: I was coming to work at 5:30 AM when traffic is usually lightest. Complete gridlock. It takes about 10-15 minutes to get past any gas station on the side of the road.

      • TJ, I expressed disagreement. I was not insulting. You made a cogent argument contrary to mine, yes got it – I still think the UF admin has shown an early trigger and an inability to be flexible. My point is that anyone, from fans to nervous sportswriters, who doesn’t immediately embrace the zeitgeist is ripped as (fill in your favorite epithet). Your points are excellent, but your description of my opinion as “insulting” is an example of what I’m criticizing. Saying that I brought it upon myself means I’m in for any and all criticism unless I agree with your argument.
        And why does commenting on different articles deserve condemnation as “trolling”?
        Cheers.

      • You do realize that you don’t get to decide if you are being insulting — that is on the audience? But anyways, let me go back to your commentary and explain why it seems insulting:
        1) “Just like last year, the ‘fraidy cat UF administration pulled the trigger at least 24 hours earlier than needed.”
        -A few points to be made here. First of all, you started the name calling. Yes it was a minor word but don’t get bent out of shape when your minor name calling results in something worse. That is just how it happens and yes you brought it upon yourself.
        -Your point about 24 hours earlier than needed is a valid opinion that is debatable. I disagree with you based on the points in the previous post but yes, debatable opinion. Too bad you started the statement with both name calling and an insulting tone.
        2) “Spare me the “it’s about saving lives” hand wringing – real leadership means…”
        -A condescending tone with “spare me the…”. Not to mention, you are insinuating that people are using the “saving lives” concept as an excuse and thus lying. If you call me a liar I will be pissed — whether you did it politely or harshly.
        -When you say “Real leadership means…” you are continuing the condescending tone. Sure, express your opinion — it would be a good idea to research facts before you express your opinion so you don’t look like a fool but yes, go ahead and express them — but insinuating that a differing opinion means you are not a “real leader” or “aren’t man enough” or however you want to say those words is condescending and insulting. You went on to say things like “this is plain sorry” — again, insulting.

      • Now you might think that I or other people are being over sensitive but we are all just tired of it. People seem to think there is a different standard of conduct on these online platforms than face to face conversation. You do not seem like an actual troll because you gave a cognizant response rather than throwing more insults but you need to understand that I am going to stand up for my community and the leaders within my community. Now I hope you and everyone else stay safe. Go Gators.

    • Why aren’t you ripping on the Dophins and Bucs for not moving their game to Atlanta, New Orleans or Charlotte? Those are all NFL venues empty this week with their respective teams playing away games. Are they scared too? Where’s the condemnation of USF for not moving the game to Connecticut? Or FSU not moving to LA-Monroe’s campus? Or Miami not travelling to Arkansas State for a scheduled away game? Or UCF not going to Memphis? And what about the volleyball team, and soccer? Is the UNCG women’s volleyball team too scared to play American University? Because they were canceled too and I didn’t hear any offers to host on their campus instead.

      Randy and Pat are trolls, and this behavior proves it. Come back and show me the proof that you’ve been on the UCF boards mocking them, or calling the FSU football and volleyball teams scared for not playing, or any of these other teams…then I will apologize for calling you the trolls you are.

  2. I truly hope that (besides all of us staying safe thru Hurricane Irma) the Florida offense (Mac & ‘Nuss) use ”this time” to learn how to act ”bold” on offense! As Goethe said, ”Whatever you can do or dream you can do, BEGIN IT! Boldness has GENIUS, POWER, and MAGIC in it!”
    Just ask Ambass. & Coach, Steve Spurrier!

  3. Coach M’Elwin,
    Every year since you have been hired you day the sam thing”I will fix it” well you never do.
    Fire your illustrious offensive co-ordinator who coached for michigan before and every one and his cousin uno his book of plays and he never ever changes them even though we do have the receivers now.
    It’s your future and reputation which are at stake.
    You waited too long to change the offensive line coach who was older and could not communicate with recruits and after you did , Florida started having excellent recruiting classes.
    There is something very wrong with the program and it seems that is you with your hard head.
    Fns have had enough Mr. Stricklin and I have had enough too. Had it.
    Huswein Eltouni
    Class of 1975