South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp will spend his extra day of preparation going over again the plan for playing the Georgia Bulldogs.
South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner and his staff will spend the extra day trying to make sure that game and the all surrounds it goes smoothly.
Almost everyone involved with the Gamecocks and Bulldogs was working Friday to change their schedules after the game was moved from Saturday night to Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in Williams-Brice Stadium due to the projected impact of Hurricane Matthew on the state Saturday.
For Muschamp and the football team, the adjustments were slight, the coach said.
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“We are treating today like a normal Friday,” Muschamp said Friday.
The Gamecocks held a walk through and special teams meeting in the morning and will have an optional chapel service and a team meal before seeing a movie together and then going to their Columbia hotel as they would before any home game.
Saturday, the Gamecocks will hold a walk through in their indoor practice facility in the morning before returning to the team hotel for lunch. The team’s support staff will then set up chairs and televisions in a ballroom so the players can either watch other college football games in groups or return to their hotel rooms. Saturday evening, the team will have a 6 p.m. meal and go through its regular pregame routine.
“It has just extended our walk through opportunities,” Muschamp said. “You can always as a coach be pretty creative to try and create more mental repetitions for your players. That’s what we have chosen to do instead of going out and putting on helmets and going out and practicing again.”
Muschamp was not heavily involved in the discussions about moving the game, he said, but he was in agreement with Tanner about not moving it to an alternate site.
“The game was never being moved out of Columbia,” he said. “That was Coach Tanner 100 percent. When the discussions started, he made that statement and I agree with him 1,000 percent.”
Tanner explained some the decision-making process during an afternoon interview with WNKT, the school’s flagship radio station.
“We weren’t exactly sure of what we were going to be dealing with and we’re still not 100 percent based on where the hurricane is right now,” Tanner told the station. “Still assessing the situation and monitoring the path and what goes on.”
South Carolina’s conversations involved Georgia and SEC officials, and the SEC encouraged the schools to find a way to play the game. Changing venues was discussed during the conversations, Tanner said.
“We tried to consider everything that is possible to try to make a decision that is right for everybody, try to play the game and try to make sure that we never lose sight of what is most important and that’s the safety of our people,” Tanner said.
The game will be fully staffed by local law enforcement officials because the state will not supply the 100-200 state troopers who usually staff home games, Tanner said. He encouraged fans attending the game to leave early and be patient.
“We are hopeful we are in a very good situation Sunday, especially weather wise,” Tanner said. “We will do everything we can to make it a normal game day experience.”
Tanner described Georgia officials as “extremely cooperative” in the discussions.
“Throughout the discussions, I think everybody wanted to play the game because there’s just not really a way to make it up,” Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity said. “We knew, due to the city of Columbia being able to support it, we felt confident that the game could be played in Columbia. The discussion was Saturday-Sunday, and the way it ended up Sunday was the best day. We are in agreement with everyone and we are looking forward to being in Columbia this week.”
The Bulldogs offered Sanford Stadium as an option for a Saturday game, McGarity said.
“I do think that possibly could have been an option if the services for security and EMT could not have been provided (in Columbia),” he said. “I think everything was basically on the table because even early in the week nobody really knew where things were going to end up. I think everyone knew the danger zones, which caused a lot of options to be discussed. It was always an option to utilize.”
Georgia officials visited Columbia on Saturday to find a place for the football team to stay on Saturday night. The Bulldogs will not displace any evacuees, McGarity said.
“South Carolina did come up with an option that our staff is over there this morning in Columbia checking on a federal facility that is used by the judicial system on campus at South Carolina that is not a public facility,” McGarity said. “It’s a private, government facility. South Carolina felt very comfortable that they would be able to accommodate a group of essential staff members and obviously student-athletes in a manner that would similar to staying in a public hotel.”
Georgia officials had not settled on lodging as of 3 p.m. Friday, a school official said.
Who: USC (2-3, 1-3 SEC) vs. Georgia (3-2, 1-2)
When: 2:30 p.m., Sunday
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 107.5 FM
Line: Georgia by 6 1/2