For University of Miami football coaches and school officials, as of 6:30 p.m. Tuesday still waiting to announce a decision on what UM will do regarding Saturday’s road game in light of Hurricane Irma, Tuesday was a day to contemplate the forces of nature, life in general and yes, even the game at Arkansas State.
“God’s wrath is God’s wrath,’’ UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said of Hurricane Irma, which accelerated into a Category 5 storm in the morning. “All you can do it try to lock in and focus.
“We make football very important, but lives are definitely more important than football. Sometimes we as coaches and players get caught up in this bubble, this one world. But there is a lot of stuff outside of it that is more important.
“Obviously, we can’t control what happens with the weather. We control our minds, our attitudes and our efforts and we’ll let the rest happen.’’
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The 3:30 p.m. game was still on as scheduled, but the parties involved were diligently working to cover all options. UM canceled all classes from Wednesday through the weekend, and it was announced Tuesday night that there would be no media availability after Wednesday’s practice session.
Hurricanes athletic director Blake James told the Miami Herald in the morning that UM was prepared to travel to Jonesboro, Arkansas, and stay longer if the team is unable to travel back to Miami because of the storm.
The next week’s game on Sept. 16 is at No. 10 Florida State in Tallahassee.
James said in the morning that UM’s “intent is to play in the game,’’ and later put out a statement that the school would make a decision “in the best interests, safety and well-being of our staff, coaches, student-athletes and their families.’’
“I’ll be talking with the league [Atlantic Coast Conference], if making a time change or date change is even an option” James told the Herald. He noted that Arkansas State and UM do not have mutual open dates. “That’s not going to be an easy option.’’
UM coach Mark Richt met with the media at about 12:30 Tuesday for his weekly news conference.
“Everything is going to be predicated on player safety, both as we travel and what’s happening back here while we’re gone,’’ Richt said. “I just don’t know what the answer to any kind of travel plans [is]…Right now, everything is on ‘go.’ But with this storm coming and the direction it looks like it’s taking, it’s certainly a possibility it comes here, so we’ll have to figure out what’s best.”
Richt said he still had “to call home’’ in Coconut Grove “to find out what’s up.’’
“We’re probably 100 or 200 yards from the water, so we probably better get some type of plan. We all know how serious these storms can be. Everybody has to figure out what’s best. We, as the leadership of this program and leadership of this athletic department, have to figure out how we’re going to go about being safe for everybody.”
The players were clearly focused more on the game than the weather.
“The coaches will let us know what we’re doing and when we’re doing it,’’ center Tyler Gauthier said. “They’ve given us hurricane readiness guides just to make sure that we’re all good. We have information in case we do get stuck in it, but that’s something we have to keep monitoring. We don’t even know if it’s going to hit us yet.
“I’ve lived in Florida my whole life and Hurricanes can turn whenever.”
“We had a conversation I believe with the hotel [Monday] on the possibilities of extending the stay,’’ James said. “I wouldn’t say there’s a specific deadline [to make a decision] for any one area. We’re just really waiting to get a better understanding of the storm and what it’s going to mean for our community and our families. Obviously we’ll do what we feel is best and hopefully pray for the best for everyone in the line of Hurricane Irma.”
▪ The Canes moved up from No. 18 to 16 in the Associated Press rankings on Tuesday, and to No. 17 in the Amway Coaches Poll.
▪ Ahmmon Richards (hamstring) practiced on Tuesday, and Richt said he’s “much closer to playing,’’ though he wouldn’t classify him as “a shoo-in.’’
▪ The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game on Tuesday made official what has been widely reported for a couple weeks: UM and Alabama will face each other to open the 2021 season in the Kickoff Game, to be played at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The two teams last met in the 1993 Sugar Bowl to end the 1992 season, when No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 1 Miami 34-13 to win the national championship.