Alcorn and FIU will play Friday in Birmingham

Published 6:25 pm Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Alcorn State and Florida International will play football this week, just a day earlier and a thousand miles from where they originally planned.

With Hurricane Irma closing in on South Florida, the schools announced they will play Friday at 6 p.m. at Legion Field in Birmingham.

The game was originally scheduled for Saturday night in Miami, where Irma is forecast to potentially make landfall this weekend. Evacuations have begun in the Florida Keys and Miami area, and FIU has canceled classes and activities until Sept. 10.

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The plan to move the game out of Miami was announced Tuesday night, and finalized Wednesday afternoon. Alcorn and FIU do not have a common bye week, so the game was unlikely to be rescheduled if it wasn’t played this week.

In addition to playing the football game in Birmingham, FIU’s swimming and diving, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s soccer, women’s golf, women’s soccer and tennis programs are joining football players on the trip, with plans to ride out the storm in Alabama.

The University of Alabama-Birmingham, which is a Conference USA member along with FIU, will host Friday’s game.

Pete Garcia, FIU’s executive director of sports and entertainment, lauded UAB and the Birmingham community “for their tremendous help and assistance. The UAB family has gone above and beyond to make us feel welcome.”

Other pro and college teams in Florida were also making plans to get out of Irma’s way or at least sneak in games ahead of its arrival:

• The University of South Florida, in Tampa, canceled a Thursday home women’s soccer match against Mississippi State, and a volleyball tournament that was to include USF, Florida Atlantic, Oral Roberts and Bethune-Cookman on Friday and Saturday.
USF’s women’s soccer game at Florida on Sunday has also been called off.

• No. 22 Florida is moving its football game against Northern Colorado on Saturday up to an 11 a.m. kickoff. It was originally scheduled for a 6:30 start.
Florida has also canceled a Sunday night women’s soccer match against South Florida.

• No. 10 Florida State also moved its football game against Louisiana-Monroe up to 11 a.m.
FSU President John Thrasher says the earlier start time “will give ULM the opportunity to travel safely after the game, and provide many of our fans a chance to come to the game and return home in time to make any necessary preparations.”

• No. 16 Miami’s football game at Arkansas State on Saturday was canceled.

Getting to Arkansas for the game would not be the problem for Miami. Getting back to Miami would be the issue, and the uncertainty over what will happen with the storm led to the decision to err on the side of caution.

The game will not be made up in 2017.

“This is about what’s best for our students, coaching staff and their families,” Miami athletic director Blake

James said, after telling Arkansas State about the decision that wasn’t exactly warmly received. “We’re not confident that we were going to get back after the game and we weren’t going to leave our players stranded somewhere. There’s bigger things than football.”

Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said his team offered several options to Miami, including moving the game to Friday night.

“Ultimately, the Miami administration made the decision not to travel,” Mohajir said.

• The NFL has postponed the season opener between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins until Nov. 19, when both teams originally had a bye week. The game was scheduled to be played Sunday in Miami.
That means the Dolphins and Bucs will have their bye in Week 1. Both teams will now play 16 consecutive weeks, starting in Week 2.

The NFL decided earlier in the week to not play the game in Miami. Neutral sites were considered, before the decision was made to move the game back later in the season.

The Associated Press contribued to this report

ALCORN VS. FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
Friday, 6 p.m.
At Birmingham, Ala.
Radio: 91.7 FM