UCF, USF cancel games ahead of Hurricane Irma

By Chris Torello, Spectrum Sports
Last Updated: Friday, September 08, 2017, 10:08 AM EDT

UCF, USF cancel games ahead of Hurricane Irma: Some supporters mad (No, Seriously)

Hurricane Irma canceled most of college football in the state of Florida for this weekend. The “Big 3” of Florida, Florida State, and Miami made easy calls because each were playing, with all due respect to their opponents, cupcakes.

But both the Knights and Bulls tried to squeeze in their games by pushing up start times and days.

The reason: these were conference-opening games.

UCF moved their Saturday game vs Memphis to Friday night with a planned kickoff of 6:30 pm. USF pushed up it’s start time against UConn on Saturday from noon to 10:30 am.

Even after both moves were made, the rumblings of further action were lingering in text messages and phone calls.

“They are going to cancel this (UConn) game,” one source told Spectrum Sports. “These (USF) players are worried about their families.”

This sentiment was further validated when Florida Governor Rick Scott ordered that all state colleges be shutdown from Thursday through Monday.

Then at 6:54 pm on Thursday night the Bulls made the announcement that they would not be traveling to Connecticut.

“…the safety and well-being of our students, staff and coaches is our paramount concern,” said USF Director of Athletics Mark Harlan in a prepared statement. “After consultation with university leadership and outside agencies, I believe it is not appropriate for our team to travel at this time.”

The USF decision was met with mixed reviews with some critics in both Tampa and Orlando. However, for the USF players, most of whom are from Florida, seemed relieved to be staying home to be around their family. Nearly four dozen USF players are from the southern part or east coast of Florida. That includes 15 from Miami (including Quinton Flowers), which could very well be hit with Category 5 hurricane conditions when Irma makes landfall in Florida some time on Saturday.

“This is Charlie (Strong)’s way of getting out of the game and trying to game the system,” said Carson Ingle on Twitter on Thursday. Ingle is a host for 1080 the Team in Orlando. “The game isn't even in Tampa. So ridiculous.”

USF players and families would disagree with that assessment.

“We were really happy that good sense prevailed with this game,” said Caroline Wilcox, sister of sophomore tight end Mitch Wilcox (Tarpon Springs). “Our family decided to head up to north Georgia for a few days till the storm passes us, so we are happy to have Mitch join us!”

UCF would join the cancellation party late Thursday night. Reports came out that the Memphis football team had flown into Orlando, only to then turn right back around shortly after landing.

The story was broken by Eli Savoie of Real Sports Talk-Sports 56/87.7FM in Memphis.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we agree that the game should not be played on Friday,” said UCF Vice President and Director of Athletics Danny White and Memphis Athletic Director Tom Bowen in a joint message to the public. “We agree with Governor Scott that preparation for Hurricane Irma should be the top priority for the state. While our fans will no doubt be disappointed, we know they understand that safety has to come first.”

Just like USF, UCF has most of it's team from the sunshine state and a least a dozen players from the Miami area.

The reaction on social media was more about the fact that Memphis was forced to fly to Florida and then turn right back around.

 At the end of the day, safety comes before anything. USF feared getting stuck in Connecticut. UCF joined because it needed to reallocate resources (campus police and staff) for preparations for the storm.

UCF and USF will now buckle down and brace for impact with the rest of Florida.