Tennessee coach Butch Jones told reporters Monday he sees Saturday’s game against Florida being played as scheduled – or at least that’s how he’s planning things.
“We fully anticipate playing the game in Gainesville,” Jones said. “But John Currie is on top of things and he’s handling all of the communication and all that, so we’re just getting ready to prepare our football team. John is going to handle everything in terms of the logistics. But as a football coach, we’re preparing to go to Gainesville.”
Butch Jones: "we're preparing to go to Gainesville." pic.twitter.com/DEeEdwSSbQ
— Marshall Hughes (@marshallhughes) September 11, 2017
Presently, some uncertainty about the game exists as Hurricane Irma makes its way up the Florida coast. It’s scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET at the Gators’ Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement Monday afternoon that it is in communication with Florida and Tennessee about the game, which has since passed through the Gainesville area.
“Now that the storm has passed through Gainesville, the University of Florida is working with local authorities to assess the effect of the storm on the campus and the Gainesville community, at the same time ensuring the appropriate security and local officials are available to host a game,” Sankey said.
On Saturday night, Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin wrote on Twitter that the game would be assessed after Hurricane Irma passes.
Florida canceled its home game this past Saturday against Northern Colorado because of Hurricane Irma. Florida State, Miami, UCF and USF also either canceled or postponed their football games for the same reason.
The Florida State-Miami game, originally scheduled to be played this Saturday, already has been rescheduled, though the decision was made easier as both shared a bye week on the week of Oct. 7.
Both Florida and Tennessee have different bye weeks and neither plays a non-conference game for the remainder of the season on the same date. Regardless, the game likely will be played because of its potential implications in the SEC standings – a point made last season when the conference worked to find a new date for the Florida-LSU game that was postponed because of Hurricane Matthew.
Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest hurricanes in recorded history, made landfall in Florida Sunday as a Category 3 storm. At its strongest point, it was a Category 5 but weakened to a tropical storm Monday.
(You can follow Kevin Connell on Twitter @_KevinConnell)
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