Gators, Seminoles cancel games because of Irma

Florida coach Jim McElwain reacts during last season’s Outback Bowl. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)

First, Hurricane Irma forced Florida and Florida State earlier this week to change their game times on Saturday from night to noon.


Now, with Irma’s ominous shift to the west, the two schools decided playing non-conference games wasn’t worth the risk.

UF and FSU officials cancelled their games on Thursday, with the Gators, due to play Northern Colorado, pulling the trigger first in the early evening, about 30 minutes after the National Weather Service predicted Irma’s track would go right up the heart of the state’s peninsula on Sunday.

FSU, which was to have played Louisiana-Monroe, followed suit about five hours later.

Neither game will be rescheduled because the teams don’t share an off week.

“We have been in constant communication this week with University and government officials,” Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement. “As the hurricane’s track has approached the state of Florida, it’s become obvious that playing a football game is not the right thing to do. The focus of our state and region needs to be on evacuations and relief efforts. There is a tremendous amount of stress currently on the roads of this state, and the availability of gas, water and other supplies are at critical levels. Playing a college football game Saturday would only add to that stress.

“Gainesville is also close to some of Florida’s heaviest traffic points this week, specifically Interstate 75, which is a key statewide evacuation route.”

It is the third such weather-related cancellation for the Gators since 2014.

Shortly after Florida canceled its game, FSU athletic director Stan Wilcox issued a statement saying the Seminoles would play on. But after Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered the closing of all Florida public schools and colleges, FSU followed through with the announcement that it would join the long list of cancellations that also includes Miami’s road game against Arkansas State and South Florida’s road game at UConn.

However, the ACC may also have to move next week’s scheduled game between the Seminoles and the Hurricanes because it is unknown how much damage will have been done to the UM campus and football practice facilities.