At Clem­son, football goes on de­spite Florence

Univer­sity says play­ing ear­lier means they can get game in

Waterloo Region Record - - Sports - PETE IACOBELLI

CLEM­SON, S.C. — Clem­son Univer­sity is mov­ing for­ward with plans to host its sched­uled football game on Satur­day while hur­ri­cane Florence wreaks havoc on the Caroli­nas’ coast­line.

The game should go on, de­spite the re­gion brac­ing for pos­si­ble his­toric flood­ing and record­set­ting rain­fall that has forced people to evac­u­ate their homes to es­cape the wrath of the storm.

School of­fi­cials re­it­er­ated their plans Fri­day morn­ing, say­ing the kick­off against Ge­or­gia South­ern re­mains set for noon Satur­day.

“Clem­son Ath­let­ics and the Univer­sity ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tinue to mon­i­tor the fore­cast re­lated to hur­ri­cane Florence very care­fully,” the univer­sity state­ment said. “The safety of fans and the stu­dent-ath­letes from both uni­ver­si­ties are our top pri­or­ity.”

But while Clem­son of­fi­cials be­lieve the school and sta­dium — which are about 400 kilo­me­tres from the South Carolina coast — are not in harms way, there has been back­lash for what is be­ing viewed by some as a nar­row view of the sit­u­a­tion.

There have been ques­tions about how safe it can pos­si­bly be to have about 80,000 people — many trav­el­ling on South Carolina high­ways to and from the game in what could be rapidly chang­ing con­di­tions — to­gether for football game and plac­ing more de­mands on al­ready strained state re­sources.

In­stead of the usual 100 to 110 state troop­ers on hand for the game, there will only be 16.

Clem­son (2-0) is the only ma­jor con­fer­ence school from the Caroli­nas and Vir­ginia play­ing its sched­uled home game on Satur­day. Hur­ri­cane Florence made land­fall on Fri­day and be­gan a trek ex­pected to take it into South Carolina.

No. 13 ranked Vir­ginia Tech, North Carolina and North Carolina State all can­celled home games. Vir­ginia’s home game with Ohio was moved to Nashville, Tenn. Clem­son’s state ri­val less than 240 kilo­me­tres east, South Carolina, called off its game Satur­day night.

Game­cocks ath­letic di­rec­tor Ray Tan­ner said can­celling his team’s game was the only choice to make. Ho­tel rooms and re­sources football fans might have used in Columbia would be freed up for coastal evac­uees. Of all the things people might need this week­end, Tan­ner told 107.5 FM, “a football game wasn’t at the top of the list.”

Clem­son’s de­ci­sion to play a game that is not ex­pected to be com­pet­i­tive — the Tigers are 33 1/2-point favourites — has raised ques­tions about the school’s pri­or­i­ties.

Univer­sity of­fi­cials did move up kick­off to noon EST from its planned 3:30 p.m. start and Clem­son ath­letic di­rec­tor Dan Radakovich said the ear­lier start time gives both the teams and the fans time to clear the area be­fore Florence’s ef­fects hit the Clem­son-area Satur­day night and Sun­day.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice fore­cast calls for just a 20 per cent chance of rain Satur­day in the Clem­son area, and the chances for rain­fall goes up to 70 per cent Satur­day night and 90 per cent Sun­day. The weather ser­vice also has is­sued a flash flood warn­ing for the area from Satur­day morn­ing through Mon­day.

Dan Radakovich

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