Josh Kendall

Morning Matthew Update: USC could change site or day of game

The big question of the week is no longer, “Who’s going to start at quarterback for South Carolina against Georgia?” It’s now, “When, and where, will the game even be played?”

There still was no definitive answer to that question Wednesday morning as state and school officials tracked the progress of Hurricane Matthew. A 5 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center stated that “data from the Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft show that Matthew has weakened slightly.”

That’s the good news. That bad news is this: “A northwestward turn is expected to occur today as the ridge to the north of Matthew builds westward.”

South Carolina officials spent plenty of time Tuesday trying to figure out what to do if the Georgia game can’t be played as scheduled in Williams-Brice Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday afternoon that she “can’t imagine” the game being played as scheduled.

South Carolina released a Tuesday evening statement saying it would make a decision on the game later this week “in consultation with state and local officials.” That wording is a significant clue that USC is going to take its cue from the government on how to proceed with this decision.

So what are the options?

▪  South Carolina could move the game, but it’s unclear where it would go.

Gamecocks officials have not had any discussions with Georgia Dome officials about playing the game there, USC athletics director Ray Tanner told The State via text on Wednesday morning. Although Clemson’s stadium is available on Saturday, any game in the state would take the same law enforcement and public service resources that could be needed for hurricane response.

Georgia’s Sanford Stadium obviously is available, but after playing a home game on an opponent’s field last year (the LSU game) the Gamecocks likely will try whatever they can to avoid that option, especially since the Bulldogs are a division rival.

▪  What about a change of day? Most of the forecasts for Matthew still suggest the storm will be past the South Carolina coast by Sunday. Anybody got anything going on Sunday?

When the LSU game was moved last year, the decision was announced around midday Wednesday. There’s no hard and fast deadline for making a change but it will have to be early enough to handle complicated ticketing, television and staff scheduling issues, so stay tuned to today.

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