For the third time in four seasons, weather will impact South Carolina’s football schedule, this time wiping a game completely off the schedule.
The Gamecocks announced Wednesday afternoon that Saturday’s scheduled game against Marshall in Williams-Brice Stadium has been canceled due to the potential impact of Hurricane Florence.
“Whether or not the game could have been played, we made the decision we think is best for the state and those who are evacuating the coast,” athletics director Ray Tanner said in a statement released by the school. “There is no question this is the right thing to do and the decision was supported by (USC president Harris) Pastides, (head football coach Will) Muschamp, our Board members and myself.”
There are no plans to make up the game, although USC “will look for an opportunity to play a 12th regular season game” at some point this season, according to the school. South Carolina has an open date Oct. 20 and also could play on Dec. 1 if it does not qualify for the SEC Championship Game. Tickets for the Marshall game will be valid for that potential 12th game, and refunds will be processed if no 12th game is added, the athletic department announced on its Twitter account.
Wednesday afternoon’s announcement came after a Wednesday morning forecast that predicted a slight southern shift in Florence’s path that could increase the impact in the Midlands. Pastides announced via Twitter on Wednesday morning that the university had canceled classes at least through Saturday.
South Carolina officials were optimistic as late as Tuesday that the game could be played as scheduled, but Wednesday’s forecast change ended that optimism, Tanner told 107.5-FM on Wednesday evening. The decision to cancel the game was made in a Wednesday afternoon meeting of Pastides emergency council, Tanner said.
“It started trending in a direction that it wasn’t going to be in the best interest to play a football game,” he said. “Everybody in the room got to that point at the same time. It just seemed like this was the right time to give everyone a chance to make the necessary arrangements. We understand certainly that resources from the state will be on the coast. A football game wasn’t on top of the list. It got to the point it was not the most prudent thing to do so we made the opportunity to cancel the game.”
Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp was informed of the decision in a phone call from Tanner after that meeting. Muschamp did not speak to the media Wednesday.
Tanner said during his radio interview that it was too early to speculate whether a 12th game will be added now but added that ticket refunds could be given to fans who couldn’t attend that game if it is scheduled.
Marshall was due to be paid $1.3 million for making the trip to Columbia for the game.
“Marshall Athletics Director Mike Hamrick and I have been in constant contact throughout the week about the game,” Tanner said. “We are in total agreement that this is the correct decision.”
All 22 of the FBS and FCS games scheduled this weekend in South Carolina, Washington, D.C., Virginia and North Carolina were canceled or adjusted in some way due to the storm, according to CBS’ Jerry Palm. Clemson’s game against Georgia Southern on Saturday was moved from 3:30 p.m. to noon.
“We did the right thing,” Hamrick told The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, W.V. “South Carolina called and canceled the game, which I’m in total agreement with. South Carolina put the safety of the people in their state, their community, their university in front of a simple football game. Plus, as I saw where the hurricane was headed and that it was strengthening, I didn’t feel comfortable taking our team down there.”
In 2015, heavy flooding in Columbia made the logistics of hosting a game impossible, so the game was moved to LSU. A year later, Hurricane Matthew caused enough storming in Columbia to move the Georgia game from Saturday to Sunday.
South Carolina 2018 football schedule
Sept. 1 South Carolina 49, Coastal Carolina 15
Sept. 8 Georgia 41, South Carolina 17
Sept. 15 Marshall // CANCELED
Sept. 22 at Vanderbilt*, 4 pm (SEC Network)
Sept. 29 at Kentucky*
Oct. 6 Missouri*
Oct. 13 Texas A&M*
Oct. 27 Tennessee*
Nov. 3 at Ole Miss*
Nov. 10 at Florida*
Nov. 17 Chattanooga
Nov. 24 at Clemson