Florida usually has what basically amounts to exhibition games to ease its way in into the SEC season.
Not this time, not in this strange and unsuccessful start to 2017.
Thanks to Hurricane Irma, which barrelled through Gainesville on Sunday night and Monday morning, the Gators are jumping right into SEC play against division rival Tennessee coming off their season-opening loss to Michigan on Sept. 2.
This past Saturday’s “exhibition” game against Northern Colorado was canceled Thursday.
Now, with almost the entire state impacted by the hurricane, the question is: where will Saturday’s game against the Vols be played?
UF athletic director Scott Stricklin posted on Twitter over the weekend that the status of the Gators’ home opener would be evaluated after the storm and the damage in Gainesville and around the state has been assessed.
Who: No. 23 Tennessee (2-0) vs. No. 24 Florida (0-1)
When: 3:30 p.m.
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850
Florida has now lost three games to storms over the past four seasons.
The 2014 opener against Idaho was canceled due to heavy rain, lightning and unsafe playing conditions. And last year’s LSU game was postponed and moved to Nov. 19 in Baton Rouge, forcing the Gators to cancel their home game with Presbyterian on that date.
There has been speculation that Saturday’s game could be moved to Knoxville or Atlanta if conditions are less than ideal in Gainesville.
The ultimate decision where the game is played will be made by the SEC because it is a conference game. League officials are in contact with officials from UF and Tennessee.
“Now that the storm has passed through Gainesville, the University of Florida is working with local authorities to assess the effect of the storm on the campus and the Gainesville community, at the same time ensuring the appropriate security and local officials are available to host a game,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a league news release.
The decision to postpone last Saturday’s game with Northern Colorado was made by UF because it was a non-conference game. That call was made after several days of discussions between UF and local and state officials, along with the league office.
The school did an assessment of all its facilities Monday and determined there were no major damages, including to The Swamp, due to the hurricane.
Some signage came down at Florida Field, but those were the only damages.
Golf and lacrosse facilities were impacted by the storm. Mark Bostick Golf Course is under some water and is not playable at this time, and Donald R. Dizney Stadium also has had some flooding.
UF’s normal football game week media availability for Monday and Tuesday were canceled last week because of Hurricane Irma. The team had a scheduled practice Sunday before taking Monday off. They will return to the practice field Tuesday. UF is closed through Wednesday.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.