The Eastern Washington Eagles football team has known for some time it was headed to Florida this weekend to play the Gators, but now it seems the Eagles may also be contending with a hurricane.
University of Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin released a statement Monday morning that said the game “is scheduled as planned” and that the program is working with campus, local and state officials as they monitor Hurricane Ian, which is predicted to impact the entire state of Florida this week.
Current hurricane track predictions have Gainesville squarely in the middle of the possible paths, with the storm making landfall on the west side of Florida’s panhandle sometime early Friday morning, about 36 hours before the teams are scheduled to kick off (at noon Eastern time).
“Having been a part of these things in the past, this is nothing to play around with,” Florida coach Billy Napier said at his Monday media conference. “We’ve got a game this weekend and all that, but I think these things are a little bit more important, and certainly we’re going to do everything we can do within our organization to help our players, their families, anybody that’s at risk.”
As of Saturday, the EWU football team’s initial plan was to arrive in Florida on Thursday, two days ahead of the game.
Florida State University Athletic Director Michael Alford announced Monday a similar status update regarding the Seminoles’ football game Saturday against Wake Forest in Tallahassee, saying that “nothing has changed right now.”
Florida International (in Miami) and Florida Atlantic (in Boca Raton) are playing on the road this weekend. The Miami Hurricanes are on a bye.
Eastern Washington’s game against Florida was first announced in 2016 and was scheduled to be played Sept. 7, 2020, but that game was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The game was officially added back into the Eastern Washington schedule in March 2021, when this Saturday’s date was announced as the makeup. The game’s payout for Eastern Washington is $750,000.
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