Marshall football coach Doc Holliday wrapped his Tuesday news conference with this: “Keep your fingers crossed. Hopefully, we can get there.”
With the threat of Hurricane Florence looming, the Thundering Herd is still scheduled to come to Columbia by charter flight on Friday afternoon, ahead of Saturday night’s game with South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
The only potential change in the Thundering Herd’s travel plans is to go by bus from Huntington, West Virginia. MU athletic director Mike Hamrick, speaking to The (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch, reiterated as much Tuesday.
“We just go,” Holliday said when asked how his team is preparing for what could be a unique situation. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re playing. Today will be a normal Tuesday. Until they tell us otherwise, we just go full-speed ahead and go. Right now, we’re going as is, as we’re playing.”
Two area games of note — West Virginia at N.C. State; Central Florida at North Carolina — have been canceled because of the storm.
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp on Tuesday confirmed Marshall’s contingency plan — “If there is bad weather, they’ve got buses ready and available” — but, like Holliday, looked forward to the game itself.
“We’re ready to go on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.,” Muschamp said. “We’re in great hands in this state with (South Carolina) Governor (Henry) McMaster and (USC) President (Harris) Pastides here at the university and (Ray) Tanner. I’m preparing for a football game.
“Obviously, my thoughts and prayers are with the people on our coast and the North Carolina coast and whoever this storm may affect, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s where we’re headed.”
USC (1-1) is meeting Marshall (2-0) for the first time since 1998.
Hamrick told The State on Monday that MU had “pretty much sold” its allotment of tickets.
“Which I think was a couple thousand, 2,500,” he said. “Most all of those are sold. So we have a lot of people going and a lot of people bought tickets through down there. “
Driving from Huntington to Columbia would take, roughly, six and a half hours.
In the past three seasons, storms have caused a pair of Gamecocks football games to be moved.
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.
USC released a statement Monday afternoon updating its plans and situation.
“USC Athletics is currently monitoring the forecast for Hurricane Florence. The safety of everyone affected by the storm and the minimization of the impact on emergency personnel are the most important factors in making the decision. We are in communication with the National Weather Service, state and local authorities and the SEC regarding potential weather issues. Fans can monitor any updates on USC athletics events via GamecocksOnline.com, social media and local media outlets.”
Jennifer Timmons, spokesperson for the Columbia Police Department, says they’ve been asked to assist with security and patrols for the Saturday’s game.
“We stand ready to assist our law enforcement partners,” Timmons said.
Richland County Sheriff’s Department says their involvement is no more than normal game day day operations. But they’re ready to jump in.
“We are prepared to handle all security if necessary,” Sheriff’s Department spokeperson Maria Yturria said.
The State’s David Travis Bland contributed