Hurricanes causing concern in college football

With hurricane season now well underway, football coaches are growing concerned about playing the games they’ve scheduled.USF has already experienced the inconvenience of delays due to Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and Hurricane Francis in 2004.

The Bulls’ homecoming game with West Virginia was postponed from Oct. 22 and rescheduled for Dec. 3 – just three weeks before making their postseason debut in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Pittsburgh was slated to visit the Bulls on Sept. 6, but thanks to Hurricane Francis, the two didn’t play until Dec. 4.

The Bulls lost both games, and these delays each came in a season when USF played only 11 regular season games.

For the second season in a row, USF will play 12 regular season contests. USF’s bye week comes early in the season – the week of Sept. 15.

“It’s difficult because with 12 (games) you really don’t have any wiggle room in your scheduling,” Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. “If a hurricane or any other weather-related incidents happen, then your season might extend into mid-December, right before a bowl game.”

Preparations have already started as hurricane season has just begun and will last until Nov. 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 13 to 17 named storms. Three to five are expected to become major hurricanes.

Last season the Bulls played all of their scheduled games without any problems, but the athletic department has taken steps in case a storm might effect a game this year.”We would work in conjunction with the (Big East) conference and our opponent,” Athletic Director Doug Woolard said. “We would just weigh all of our options. All we can do is try to look at each issue on a case-by-case basis.”

The Big East Conference doesn’t have an annual conference championship game, unlike other major football conferences.

The concern is even greater for Wake Forest, as last season they defeated Georgia Tech for the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship on Dec. 2. It was the first ACC Championship for the Demon Deacons since 1970.

“Making a competitive schedule is difficult enough, but having to factor in other things like hurricanes makes it that much more stressful,” Grobe said. “The only thing we can do is just wait it out and hope it’s a non-factor.”

If a hurricane struck North Carolina, Wake Forest could play its final regular season contest as late as Dec. 8.

The Bulls’ only off-week this season comes during the third week, after USF plays at Auburn.

“I’m not really concerned with things that are out of my control,” Coach Jim Leavitt said. “We just have to play the hand we’re dealt and hopefully we won’t have to worry about it.”

With the additional week provided to a conference without a scheduled championship, teams in a conference such as the Big East have the luxury of playing during the first week in December.

“Without a (conference championship), we could try and go when other conferences are playing in their championship games,” Woolard said. “We could easily do that after the regular season is complete, and we’re lucky to be able to do that.”