COLUMBIA, SC - USC athletics director Ray Tanner was back in his office Friday for the first time in several days as his time has been devoted to figuring out a scenario where USC and Georgia could play. Tanner and Dr. Harris Pastides have been meeting with other University officials since Tuesday well into the evening with the goal of finding a time where the teams could play with people's safety at the forefront.
During Thursday night's broadcast of Carolina Calls, Tanner informed USC head football coach Will Muschamp that Sunday at 2:30 p.m. would be when the Gamecocks and Bulldogs would play their game which was scheduled for Saturday night.
Tanner says even though the game time is set, University officials will still monitor the track of Hurricane Matthew so it's not as if Tanner and his team are exhaling just yet.
"Still monitoring the path and what goes on. Tanner said on 107.5's Halftime Show Friday.
"Involving the Southeastern Conference and Georgia and their officials and numerous conversations, we landed at a point that we feel is the best opportunity to play the football game Sunday afternoon - based on everything we considered. As we all know first and foremost is the safety of everyone in the state of South Carolina and what the Governor has done and the emphasis she has put on protecting the citizens and residents of our state and trying to get them in a safe, safe situation by evacuating the coast, it's been very impressive by the leadership role of so many people."
Thursday night's announcement between the 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. hour came a few hours after it was announced LSU's game at Florida had been postponed.
"We waited as we long as we probably, possibly could," Tanner said.
"And we set the kick for 2:30 Sunday afternoon.
"Again, we're still assessing Hurricane Matthew and what can happen as we go forward. But we considered all the circumstances.'
The CEO of USCs athletics department understands this decision to play Sunday will be met with praise and criticism.
"Is it perfect?", Tanner asked rhetorically.
"I'm sure it isn't. People won't be happy with the decision and some will be. But we're doing our very best and we invested the time, the effort and the leadership to get us in the right decision."
Sunday's game will be unique not in terms of when the game will be played but who will be directing traffic. WIth the state troopers concentrating on helping those affected by Hurricane Matthew, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and his team will take over that role in providing the personnel to handle the massive foot and vehicle traffic of a college football game.
"We're never going to take them away from places they need to be that are more important," Tanner said.
"That's really the first determination that you talk about when you host any type of event, especially an athletic event. Do you have the emergency personnel, would they be available or do they need to be somewhere else."
Tanner says fans will notice different personnel immediately with the highway patrol not working the game.
"The highway patrol will not be with us, but we will have people to replace them," Tanner said.
"I would exercise caution - to everybody. Try to leave a little bit earlier. Try to be patient, But we certainly expect it to be a fairly normal game day. That is certainly our hope that we will be fully-staffed and we'll try to provide the ease getting in and out as we have in the past."