After storm, football takes a back seat

With its campus involved in Hurricane Katrina recovery and rescue efforts, LSU's opener is postponed.

Published August 31, 2005

GAINESVILLE - Saturday night's football game between LSU and North Texas has been postponed in the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but two other SEC schools in the region are still scheduled to play this weekend.

"As of now, LSU is the only school that will be affected," said Charles Bloom, SEC associate commissioner. "There were really only three home games that were in jeopardy (LSU, Mississippi State and Alabama). Things can still change."

Alabama will host Middle Tennessee and Murray State will travel to Starkville to play Mississippi State on Saturday.

LSU is located in Baton Rouge, approximately one hour from New Orleans, where much of the city is under water. The LSU campus and its athletic facilities have become integral parts of the recovery and rescue efforts in Louisiana.

The Carl Maddox Field House is a special needs shelter, the Pete Maravich Assembly Center is a triage unit for medical emergencies and the school's track will be utilized as a helicopter landing site for medical emergencies."

"The events of yesterday and this morning have made it clear that this is not the time to play a football game," LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said in a statement. "This is a dire situation that rivals any in the history of our state, and our priorities are on participating in recovery efforts."

The University of Mississippi, which is about six hours from the most serious damage on the state's coast, is scheduled to play Monday at Memphis. School officials said Tuesday that outside of downed trees and strong winds, the campus is in good shape. The Rebels practiced at their indoor facility Monday.

SEC officials also have been affected by Katrina. The league office is located in Birmingham, where nearly 200,000 people were without power.

At Louisiana Tech, which is scheduled to play at Florida on Sept.10, Katrina's effects are more mental than physical. The school is in north Louisiana, about 45 minutes from Arkansas and hadn't gotten any rain as of Tuesday afternoon.

"Everything is fine here, it's just the psychological effect," said Josh Milton, assistant media relations director at Louisiana Tech. "Some of our players are from New Orleans and they are concerned about their families. We still have people who haven't heard from their families; they can't get in touch with them because the power lines and cell phone lines are all down and they haven't had any communication."

Others are providing temporary shelters for their families.

"It's a big concern for our players," head coach Jack Bicknell said. "A lot of our players' families have come up to be with them and are here right now."

The North Texas-LSU game will be rescheduled within 36 to 48 hours. "When you are looking at an event of that magnitude, it requires a lot and you think about where are you pulling resources from?," Bloom said. "You can't have 70,000 people drive up to a game without police and those types of services. And you can't just pull those people away when they are saving lives. That's a huge, huge issue."

Jacksonville's season opener at Southeastern Louisiana on Thursday was canceled and likely will not be made up, and the Tulane-Southern Mississippi game scheduled for Sunday in Hattiesburg, Miss., has been moved to Nov. 26.