Canceling South Carolina’s game against Marshall “was absolutely the right decision,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said.
“I have been through several hurricanes. It’s nothing to play with,” Muschamp said Thursday night on his weekly “Carolina Calls” radio show. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people on the coast right now.”
If South Carolina had played the game, the Gamecocks would not have used the hotel rooms they usually stay in Friday night in order to free those up for people evacuating the coast. Saturday night’s game was canceled because of the potential impact of Hurricane Florence.
The Gamecocks practiced Thursday morning. They will have a weight-lifting session Friday, take Saturday off and return to practice on Sunday, Muschamp said. The Gamecocks play Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., on Sept. 22. The team will be prepared to travel for that game early if the weather or power outages in Columbia make it difficult to practice in the area, Muschamp said.
“You never know,” he said. “We need to be prepared for all situations.”
South Carolina informed its players of the cancellation via text message about 30 minutes prior to announcing the decision to the public, Muschamp said, and he was happy with the way his team responded in Thursday morning’s practice.
“We had a great practice today,” he said. “I was very pleased with how our guys came in, a training camp like practice, a very difficult practice. It was really good the way our guys competed. I thought they responded well. We had a lot of juice, a lot of energy.”
South Carolina will try to add a 12th game back to its football schedule, but the options are limited. The Gamecocks could play Oct. 20, on their regularly scheduled bye week, or Dec. 1, if they don’t qualify for the SEC Championship Game. Muschamp is not eager to play on Oct. 20, he said.
“I’m not sure playing 10 straight games is what’s best for the student-athletes,” Muschamp said. “That’s very difficult. That’s something (athletics director Ray) Tanner and I will have discussions about. We’ve already had several. We’ll continue to explore what’s best for our student-athletes.”
Muschamp won’t veto an Oct. 20 game, he said. As for scheduling a game on Dec. 1, he said, “I plan on playing that weekend,” meaning in the SEC Championship Game.
“I don’t know that (playing a 12th game) matters,” he said. “I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.”