Hurricane Florence has already caused several college football games in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia to be canceled.
But Clemson and Georgia Southern are still expected to play Saturday.
Clemson released a statement Friday morning stating that, “The kickoff time for Saturday’s game remains scheduled for 12 p.m. Clemson Athletics and the University administration continue to monitor the forecast related to Hurricane Florence very carefully. The safety of fans and the student-athletes from both universities are our top priority.”
South Carolina and Marshall announced Wednesday that their game will not be played this weekend, while ACC teams North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia Tech also had their games canceled.
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The Clemson and Georgia Southern game had its start time moved up from 3:30 p.m. to noon, and the Tigers are the only FBS school in South Carolina, North Carolina or Virginia still scheduled to play Saturday.
Clemson Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich was on the Sirius XM ACC Radio show hosted by Mark Packer and Wes Durham Thursday morning and explained why the Tigers are still scheduled to play, despite other schools deciding to cancel their games.
“Here in the Upstate of South Carolina we’ve been monitoring what effects it may have here in Clemson,” Radakovich said. “As you know we moved the game time from 3:30 to noon to make sure that everybody would have ample time to get back to wherever their homestead is after the game... At this current time whatever type of effects we have from the storm look to be late Saturday, early Sunday morning. That is the information that we have received.”
Radakovich and Georgia Southern AD Tom Kleinlein have been in constant communication throughout the week. Both schools are working to gather as much information as possible about the hurricane before Saturday’s game.
There has yet to be a time when Radakovich has thought the game would not be played.
“At this point in time that has not come forward. Now I can’t say that in the next 24 hours with things changing we wouldn’t go in that direction,” Radakovich said. “But with where we are and with all the information we have been able to gather through the weather services and emergency preparedness, the effects of that storm won’t really hit the Upstate (Saturday afternoon). And when it does it looks like it’s just going to be a rain event, a significant rain event, but that wouldn’t happen until Sunday.”
Radakovich added that safety remains a top priority for everyone involved in the situation.
“Well first and foremost we want to make sure that safety is at the top of our list, for our fans, for our student athletes, for absolutely all the citizens in the state of South Carolina,” he said. “So we certainly hope that this storm does not do the damage that maybe it’s anticipating right now.”
The fact that Georgia Southern and Clemson are not far apart and the Eagles are taking a bus to Clemson has been beneficial throughout the process.
“That has been a real positive as it relates to getting the decisions made as late as possible. If there was an airplane flight involved that’s a whole different ballgame,” Radakovich said.
It has also helped Clemson has been in similar situations in past years, including in 2015 against Notre Dame and last year against Auburn and Georgia Tech.
There was heavy rainfall in all three instances.
“We’ve had a number of times where we wouldn’t have maybe the full complement of folks out on the highway helping people get in, but our fan base has been fantastic. When we tell them, ‘Patience is needed today because of these other issues that you know are going on around you,’ they heed that advice. When we ask them to come early because of certain situations they heed that advice,” Radakovich said. “We have the greatest fans in the country, and I think that moving this game up, they all want to see the game, they all want to see us play, they all want to be here on campus. But they all understand that we have their safety in mind and that’s why we moved the game up. We want it to be a great environment but we also want it to be a safe environment.”