In a late move on Thursday night, officials have decided to cancel the UCF-Memphis football game that was rescheduled from Saturday to Friday night, due to Hurricane Irma.
Eli Savoie of Sports Talk 56/87.7 in Memphis had the original report:
The Memphis Tigers game at UCF has now been canceled. Tigers will fly back home tonight
— Eli Savoie (@Eli560) September 8, 2017
The Tigers had reportedly already arrived at Sanford Airport in Orlando, but upon being informed of the decision, elected to turn around and fly straight home.
As of just before 7 a.m. Friday morning, UCF had not made an announcement about the status of the game. However, UCF did make an official announcement early Friday morning that the game was called off:
— UCF (@UCF) September 8, 2017
The athletic department followed suit minutes later:
— UCF Knights (@UCFKnights) September 8, 2017
The UCF Women’s Soccer game against LSU that was scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday has also been scrubbed:
UPDATE: Today's match against LSU has been called off. https://t.co/BeuM2vrqRm
— UCF Women's Soccer (@UCF_WSoccer) September 8, 2017
Both games were rescheduled from their original times to Friday to get them in ahead of the storm but with the announcement of all public schools and universities being closed as of Friday, including UCF’s campus, it was decided to shut it all down.
No makeup date has been set for either event.
The soccer game, a non-conference match-up, will likely never be made up.
However, even though it is a conference game, it will be extremely difficult logistically to re-schedule the UCF-Memphis football game. Both teams have different bye weeks (Memphis is November 11, UCF is October 28), so a repeat of last year, when UCF and Tulane made up their scheduled game that was canceled due to Hurricane Matthew because the two teams did share a bye week, is out of the question.
In theory, the game could be made up on the weekend of September 30th. Both teams have non-conference games scheduled that weekend – UCF faces Maine at home, while Memphis plays Georgia State at the former Turner Field in Atlanta. However, this would require a Herculean administrative effort to make Maine and Georgia State whole.
Uninformed speculation: I guess you could just trade opponents that week: Memphis goes to UCF, Maine goes to Georgia State. But that would also likely require special approval from the NCAA and the conferences of the respective opponents. I’d hate to have to herd all of those cats.
As a local fan, paying attention to football for three hours on Friday night would have brought a welcome respite from the chaos and stress of preparing for what may very well be the strongest hurricane to hit the Orlando area in at least recent memory.
But that fails to account for the tremendous cost in manpower from law enforcement and emergency services that it would require to play a regular season college football game – even one as supposedly run-of-the-mill as this one. Even a bare-bones staff would still take dozens of police officers to administer ingress/egress, parking and stadium security, not to mention several emergency personnel who would be there for fan and player safety. These are people who need to be in position to do their jobs related to preparation for the storm.
I feel like a 30for30 will be made about this week in the future.
It'd be insanely compelling.
— 🗣Eric DeSalvo (@EricDeSalvo) September 8, 2017
In the end, the manpower tax was too much. Couple that with the immense traffic problems that are already persisting on highways in the state – and the law enforcement and emergency requirements associated with that – and there was just no logical way the game could happen.
With UCF staff now buckling down in preparation for Irma, chances are we won’t hear anything from the school until after the storm has passed, which is expected to be late Monday at the earliest.