After several days of monitoring the approaching storm, the biggest schools in South Carolina had little choice but to alter football games due to Hurricane Florence.
South Carolina Wednesday canceled its game with Marshall that was scheduled for Saturday night. University officials announced the decision just hours after head coach Will Muschamp sounded confident the teams would play.
Second-ranked Clemson pushed up the start time of its game at home against Georgia Southern, with the kickoff now taking place at noon instead of 3:30 p.m.
“Whether or not the game could have been played, we made the decision we think is best for the state and those who are evacuating the coast,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said. “There is no question this is the right thing to do.”
Georgia, which beat South Carolina last Saturday, on Thursday decided to move its 7:15 p.m. game time Saturday against Middle Tennessee State to noon. A weakening system could reach northeast Georgia by late Sunday and still bring with it tropical storm-force winds, Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brad Nitz said.
As of Tuesday, about 1.7 million people in North and South Carolina and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents.
South Carolina will look to add a 12th game to its schedule later this season.
It is the third time in four seasons Tanner and the football team have had severe weather change its football schedule.
In 2015, a home game against LSU was moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, because of fatal flooding a week earlier. Personnel needed to handle a home game at 80,000-seat Williams-Brice Stadium were need to cope with flood-related emergencies.
A year later, Hurricane Matthew swamped the area and South Carolina’s home game against Georgia was delayed a day and played on a Sunday.
Clemson officials cited the “uncertainty” of Florence’s track.
Tanner said not having the game will free up personnel to help people in need and open up hotel rooms usually occupied by football fans.
The South Carolina AD and Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick talked several times and agreed on canceling the game, Tanner said.
Florence's track had colleges in the Carolinas and Virginia changing plans.
Appalachian State canceled its home game with Southern Miss. Charlotte moved its scheduled home game in North Carolina against Old Dominion from Saturday to Thursday night to beat Florence's arrival.
On Tuesday, the West Virginia-North Carolina State, East Carolina-Virginia Tech and UCF-North Carolina games scheduled for Saturday also were canceled.
Tennessee's game with UTEP remains on the schedule. The Vols are offering free tickets to residents of North and South Carolina under evacutation orders for the noon game.
Among FCS schools, Furman has canceled its home game with Colgate in Greenville, S.C., while Presbyterian said its planned home contest with Stetson in Clinton, S.C., would be played at the visitor's field in Deland, Fla.
Richmond has moved its scheduled home football game this week against St. Francis to Pennsylvania. The game was scheduled to be played Saturday, but will now be played at 5 p.m. Thursday.