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After Hurricane Irma, what now for football in Florida?


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As daybreak came Monday morning the entire state of Florida began to assess the damage and aftermath of Hurricane Irma. From Naples in the Southwest corner of the state, where Irma made landfall Sunday morning, to Tallahassee which was battered by a weakened storm on Monday morning, the path was vast.

This doesn’t include the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area, which didn’t take a direct hit but was pummeled by Irma’s high winds, rain and tornado causing like activity for two days. And in Orlando/Central Florida they also felt the results of Irma’s intensity as a Category two Hurricane throughout the Sunday and into Monday.

So, Monday and really the first part of this week, will be about assessment of damage, as college and pro football teams and staff try to figure out how and when they can resume practice and preparations for this week.

Here’s the recap and the look ahead for those teams:

The Jacksonville Jaguars were victorious Sunday afternoon in Houston 29-7, and had already planned to stay in Houston overnight and assess, when they can return to North Florida. That may be later on Monday morning, as while Jacksonville got some wind and rain from the massive size of the Hurricane, the Jags should be able to return.

The Miami Dolphins (having postponed their home game with the Bucs) had already evacuated South Florida, as a team on Friday for Southern California to practice and prepare this week to play the L.A. Chargers this coming Sunday out West.

There is some talk that depending on wind/flood problems this week, etc. the Dolphins would stay on the road and go to the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia to practice after the Chargers game. Several NFL teams have used those facilities for training camp and joint practices, including this past August.

That is a decision that will be for later in the week, if not the weekend.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, evacuated as a team to Charlotte on Saturday afternoon, as it became apparent that West Central Florida was in direct line with Irma’s path/strong conditions. There is no word yet on Monday morning, if the Bucs intend to meet or practice in Charlotte later Monday or if they are coming back to Tampa Bay to do so.

The Bucs are scheduled to host the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday at 1 p.m. That will be assessed and evaluated in Irma’s wake, and updates on all will come later.

As for the college programs and games, here we go:

With Irma heading to the Panhandle this past weekend, the ACC decided on Saturday night to move the pending FSU-Miami game from this coming weekend in Tallahassee to their mutual off day Saturday of October 7th.  There is still no word and may not be for a little while, on whether FSU will try to make up their home game with UL-Monroe. And, no word yet, if the Canes will agree to somehow reschedule their cancelled game at Arkansas State.

The Florida Gators first moved up their game with Northern Colorado from Saturday night to Saturday at noon. Then, it was cancelled all together on Thursday night. It will not likely be made up. The Gators wake up Monday assessing everything and get set to host SEC East rival Tennessee at the Swamp on Saturday in the conference opener for both teams.

The USF Bulls ended up not traveling to Connecticut Friday to play UConn, who agreed to play them at 10:30 a.m. Saturday to give them ample time to return to Tampa Saturday. So, for now, that conference game is cancelled with no scheduled makeup. The Bulls must assess everything in Tampa, quickly and be prepared to face Illinois and former Bucs/Bears head coach Lovie Smith on Friday night on ESPN2 national TV. Look for updates quickly on that.

The UCF Knights first moved their conference opening home game with Memphis up from Saturday night to Friday night. Then, inexplicably, let Memphis’ travel party get on the plane Thursday evening and fly to Orlando before telling them, when they landed that the game was cancelled.

Along with the USF/UConn cancellation, it’s now a mess for the American Athletic Conference to try to reschedule this game, too. The Knights will begin assessment of everything after Irma and now, will get ready to host ACC foe, Georgia Tech Saturday at Spectrum Stadium.

The FAU Owls evacuated from Boca Raton to Madison, Wisconsin, and played tough in the first half before losing to the Big Ten Badgers, 31-14 Saturday. The Owls have stayed in Madison through the weekend and are assessing when they can return to South Florida. They are scheduled to host Bethune-Cookman on Saturday.

And finally, the FIU Panthers evacuated to Birmingham, AL, and played Alcorn State Friday in a “home game” there, that they won 17-10. The Panthers are scheduled to play at Indiana Saturday. It’s unclear on Monday if they will stay in Birmingham or head back to Ft. Lauerdale or not.

So, with the understanding that assessment of damage, safety and security in the aftermath of Irma is the main focus, football will now be part of the resumption of normalcy later this week in Florida, too.

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