After an initial rescheduling, Hurricane Irma’s growing threat to the state of Florida forced the school’s flagship football program to cancel the Florida Gators’ home opener against Northern Colorado that was set to take place on Saturday.
The program announced the cancellation shortly after 5 p.m., when a new advisory from the National Hurricane Center shifted Irma’s projected track slightly westward, forecasting a landfall in extreme South Florida and a track through the center of the state.
"We have been in constant communication this week with University and government officials," said Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin. "As the Hurricane's track has approached the state of Florida, it's become obvious that playing a football game is not the right thing to do. The focus of our state and region needs to be on evacuations and relief efforts. There is a tremendous amount of stress currently on the roads of this state, and the availability of gas, water and other supplies are at critical levels. Playing a college football game Saturday would only add to that stress.
"Gainesville is also close to some of Florida's heaviest traffic points this week, specifically Interstate 75, which is a key statewide evacuation route."
Florida also explained some of the logistics leading into the game:
University Athletic Association officials had worked with Northern Colorado to have them charter a flight to Gainesville on Friday, instead of the Bears' original plans of traveling commercially Thursday to Tampa.
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin also took to Twitter to reaffirm that “every possible effort” was made to play the game, and wish Floridians well.
Every possible effort was made to play this game, but given circumstances, playing game wasn’t right thing to do. Stay safe, Floridians. https://t.co/zGVbqKshet— Scott Stricklin (@ScottStricklin) September 7, 2017
Florida and Northern Colorado do not have a common open date in 2017, so the game will, per Florida, not be rescheduled.
Florida is next scheduled to play on September 16 in a home game against Tennessee.
But even that game could be jeopardized by catastrophic effects from Irma, which is likely to be one of the strongest storms to make landfall in Florida this century.