Saturday Morning Quarterback

Andy Reed • Updated Sep 9, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Today’s big sports story is Week 2 of the college football season - except in Florida where approaching Hurricane Irma has not only wiped the games from the headlines, but out of the entire state.

Just about every Sunshine State team has either had its game canceled, moved up, moved out or rescheduled. Right here in Lebanon, Cumberland’s game with Webber International, whose campus sits smack dab in the middle of the Florida peninsula, was moved up to last night so the team could return home before the storm.

The decision was made early in the week. At first glance, it struck me as odd that a football team would return to Florida at a time when hundreds of thousands of its residents, granted they’re primarily from the coastal regions, are trying to flee. It’s more awkward than driving into Nashville during evening rush hour, more like going the wrong way on a one-way street.

The Miami Hurricanes elected not to travel to Arkansas State for today’s game, drawing criticism from CBS analyst Rick Neuheisel, who thought the ‘Canes didn’t want to play the game. He said if the Dolphins were scheduled to play out of state, the NFL would have them play.

That caught flak from the U. Coach Mark Richt said his team had not practiced or even met since Tuesday as players and coaches focused on being with their families and making sure they are safe.

No doubt, that’s Webber International’s thinking. Cumberland’s fortunate the game was played as a couple of Mid-South Conference games involving Florida schools were canceled. I can’t imagine players and coaches trying to focus on a game when their families are hundreds of miles away possibly hanging on for dear life in the eye of the storm.

I recall 1988 when then-Alabama coach Bill Curry canceled a trip to Texas A&M when a hurricane threatened the Texas coast. As things turned out, the Lone Star State was spared on that occasion. Game day broke bright and sunny in College Station. Golf courses were open. A&M folks dubbed the Crimson Tide coach “Chicken Curry”. I doubt Bama fans were any more charitable toward the coach they generally hated.

It brings up the question, “Get out of Dodge or hunker down?”

Truth of the matter is, there is really no one right way to handle this situation. And other than trying to play in 100-mph wind and driving rain, there isn’t a wrong answer either. If you live through it, it’s a right-enough answer.

I’ve never been in a hurricane, nor is it something on my bucket list.

I would tend to listen to the people who have to deal with this on a direct basis. Until you move, you’re a still target for a storm with a mind of its own. Weather-forecasting is generally better since Curry had to make his decision nearly three decades ago, but there is no 100-percent guarantee in charting a storm’s path. What you see on the weather map is the “cone of uncertainty”, and even that is changed daily, if not hourly. Different models project where it thinks the storm will go and it looks like the dinner table in front of your child who’s eating spaghetti.

Football teams have their playbooks and coaches spend every waking hour trying to come up with an answer to every possible contingency which has a one-percent chance of coming up in a game.

But while Arkansas State had a game plan for the Hurricanes, there is no playbook for dealing with hurricanes.

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