UPDATE: The Georgia – South Carolina game has been moved to Sunday at 2:30 p.m. but it will still be played in Columbia, SC.
For the second year in a row, a hurricane will impact one of the two major universities in the state of South Carolina’s biggest home game.
Let’s stop right here and acknowledge that the storm’s impact on a ballgame is the absolute bottom of the ladder of important impacts the storm could have.
God forbid, people could die. Homes could be lost. Businesses could be lost. Billions of dollars of damage could occur. We hope and pray that doesn’t happen, but it could.
We are just taking a look at one way that the storm will affect a major sporting event in the state this week and weekend.
Last year, South Carolina’s rival, Clemson, faced off with Notre Dame in Hurricane Joaquin. The rain and flooding downstate had been record-breaking for several days. But officials decided to go ahead and play the game.
If you missed it, and you probably didn’t according to the ratings for that game, check out the entire game here in a one hour to see what playing in a hurricane looks like (from One Hour Football):
The importance of that game could not be understated as it propelled Clemson from #12 into the Top 10 on their way to an undefeated season and a Playoff and National Championship game appearance. If the game had moved out of Death Valley Clemson might not have had that 12th man advantage that Death Valley is so famous for and, hence, might not have won. Clemson downed Notre Dame 24-22 that night.
But some very important lessons were learned that night.
Now, South Carolina is set to host Georgia in VERY similar conditions this Saturday. Of course, lots of things could change, as hurricanes are particularly unpredictable. But let’s say that Hurricane Matthew’s outer bands are sweeping through Columbia, South Carolina on Saturday, and that is very likely at the time of this writing, because the forecast calls for 100% chance of rain on Saturday. Let’s throw in the fact that the Columbia area is supposed to be pounded by 25-30 mph winds on Saturday. The Columbia area will not receive near the amount of flooding and damage that those counties along the coastline will receive.
One of the lessons learned from the Clemson decision to go ahead and play that Notre Dame game in Hurricane Joaquin last season, was the amount of resources that had to be redirected from the affected areas to handle the ballgame. The crowds, the traffic, the security, the EMT’s, the South Carolina State Troopers. They all had to be used for something other than what they truly were needed for.
The question is, should the state of South Carolina make the same call again?
While the Gamecocks, and the Bulldogs for that matter, are not having a great year, this is still a rivalry game. And home field advantage at Williams-Bryce, something the Gamecocks gave up last year in the LSU matchup due to flooding, is usually big for this particular rivalry. The game could be moved out of the storm’s path, and out of the state, which would free up state resources BUT hand home field advantage back the Dawgs. And that is something the Gamecocks of South Carolina cannot afford to have happen.
Both teams are counting on THIS game to give them a spark and turn their season around.
The Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, will make the call along with the universities, most likely later today, and we’ll have for you on all of our social media channels (@929thegame) as well as here on our website.