ATHENS — Take this for what it’s worth, because neither Georgia nor South Carolina is offering any official or definite statements on the subject, but the information I’m getting is that the teams aren’t going to play their game in Columbia on Saturday. And they’re not going to play it in Athens at Sanford Stadium either.
There is a good chance they’re going to end up playing in the Georgia Dome. That has to come with a rather significant “if” qualifier. As in, if the game is canceled at Williams-Brice Stadium because of weather associated with Hurricane Matthew, then it will end up in Atlanta.
But I definitely don’t expect them to play in Columbia. In case you haven’t heard — Seth Emerson has been keeping us all updated on DawgNation.com — they’ve already canceled classes at the University of South Carolina on Wednesday and the expectation is they’ll be canceled for the rest of the week before it’s through. Meanwhile, the state of South Carolina has already ordered a mandatory coastal evacuation of more than a million people.
All indications are they’re not going to play this game in South Carolina, folks. That said, the Gamecocks desperately want to keep it there. They already went through this last year when they had to play LSU in Baton Rouge due to flooding in the Columbia area.
But if they can’t, then Atlanta is the destination.
Head coach Kirby Smart insists he isn’t in the loop.
“I haven’t really talked to anybody,” Smart said after Georgia’s practice Tuesday. “I’m aware of the weather, obviously. Different people have said some different statements. To be honest with you, we’re just focused on getting ready for the game. We had a talk as a team today. We had a team meeting to discuss just that, that our focus needed to be on preparing for the game. Whatever happens happens; that’s really out of our control.”
Of course, there already is a game scheduled to be played in the Georgia Dome on Saturday. Georgia State plays its home games there and it is hosting Texas State at 3:30 p.m. The game is set to be broadcasted on ESPN3.
However, persons with knowledge of the situation say a scenario is being discussed in which the Panthers’ game would be moved up to noon. Then the Georgia-South Carolina game would be moved back to 8 p.m. That would then build in enough time for the Georgia Dome staff to reset for the Georgia game.
Again, none of this is official. As of Tuesday evening, Georgia State officials said they have not been contacted by anybody from UGA or South Carolina. Georgia Dome officials also declined comment.
UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity will say only “we’ll know more tomorrow.” That’s the same statement that’s coming out of South Carolina.
At this moment, I can’t answer all your questions about tickets and such. Williams-Brice Stadium seats 80,250 and I assume it was going to be a sellout. Usually is for Georgia. I’ve heard two scenarios: One, that they’ll just honor the tickets already sold; two, that they’d refund all tickets and just treat the Dome game like a bowl game.
I wouldn’t imagine the Gamecocks care much for the second option. Georgia fans would surely flood the market, just like they did for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game they played against North Carolina.
Again, South Carolina desperately wants to keep the game where it is. But it will require Hurricane Matthew to deviate from its current projected path.
But, like I said, this is a very fluid situation.