Posted: 11:41 am Friday, October 7th, 2016

For the Georgia-South Carolina game, no complaining 

By Jay Black

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Hurricane flags are flying on the South Carolina coast, but two hours away, at the end of the evacuation route, there will be a football game.

This is a very strange column to write, but it’s Friday and we always write something for Friday.

I like writing about Georgia football. It’s fun. It’s not all that serious. It’s important to a lot of people, but really, it’s just entertainment. That’s great, nothing wrong with having some fun.

But what is happening to our state and the one which I’ll be in for a football game this weekend is not fun. It’s very serious and it’s extremely important.

This is a strange week and it’s not going to end on Saturday. It’s incredibly inconvenient to be playing the Georgia-South Carolina in Columbia on Sunday. Some people around the radio station were telling me how dumb it would be to move the game or move the date because of all the people in would affect. Hotels, travel, people watching on TV, etc.

I have a three word response to that. Hur-a-cane.

Hurricanes are very inconvenient and — you know — deadly.

So there’s a new rule for this weekend’s football game. No complaining.

No complaining about playing this game on a Sunday. No complaining about weekend plans being changed or hotels or if you were going or having to decide between watching the Dawgs or the Falcons on Sunday.

If your home is not under an evacuation order, there’s no complaining about football.

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Savannah residents line up as they board a bus Thursday during an evacuation to Augusta. Similar scenes are playing out in South Carolina and in Columbia.

It’s not a great weekend for me. I have to drive back all night Sunday to be on the air Monday. Not fun. Now I have to spend three days in Columbia, which isn’t exactly Maui.

No complaining. My condo will be there when I get home.

There are players for the Gamecocks that might not be able to say about their home or their relatives home, especially the ones from the coast.

Which brings us to — not a complaint — but a serious question. Why are we playing this game in Columbia again?

This is the capitol of a state that’s a federal emergency disaster zone. This is the city where the “one-way interstate” ends. This is where many of the people fleeing Hurricane Matthew will stop and look for shelter because they can’t turn around.

I’ve got a hotel room for two nights because for a football game (and now news coverage). There’s certainly hundreds or a few thousand other people that have gobbled up beds for this game also.

Hopefully we don’t run out. I already feel a little guilty. I’m not worried about my home. These people are.

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UGA athletic director Greg McGarity

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity UGA’s demand was that they would not take up hotel rooms from evacuees. So instead the team is looking at staying at a facility on South Carolina’s campus used by the government for judicial training.

McGarity and everybody at the University of South Carolina say safety was the most important factor.

“Even though the Governor had mentioned that state services would not be provided,” says McGarity, “the local sheriff says local resources has said local resources can handle everything surrounding the game.”

I’m sure things will be fine on Sunday because it will be over, but what about Saturday night?

If it was really all about safety, would you really want a gathering of 80-thousand people in an area where flooding and power outages — while not certain — are certainly possible? Do you want all these people in a place where the Governor of South Carolina has already said, there will be no support from the state for security or crowd control? Do you really need all these extra people in a place that’s probably doubling its population with evacuees? Where classes have been cancelled and the facilities around the football stadium might have a better use than for a couple of SEC teams that only have one win the conference?

Here’s one possible reason.

Moving a football game costs the city of Columbia about $7 million and that doesn’t include the $4 million or so in revenue that goes into the school’s athletic association.

McGarity says “money was never discussed”, and I’m sure with him it wasn’t. But with those dollar figures, you know USC did not want to lose another home game.

The University of South Carolina knows how much they can lose because they had to do the same thing last year, moving the LSU game to Baton Rouge when their entire city was underwater.

But how else can you justify playing this game in Columbia?

I can understand why no one wanted to come to Athens. McGarity says it was offered, but not needed since Columbia can “provide safety and EMS.” That had it’s own complications. South Carolina needs every win it can get to be bowl eligible and didn’t want another road game. Georgia certainly would have had to go to Columbia next season if the game was moved to UGA and would only have had five home games next season.

The Georgia Dome would work great, but McGarity says that never come up in any conversations he had. It doesn’t rain at the Dome. It’s a neutral site. If $$$$$$ is an issue, I’m sure the SEC can find some to pay back the Gamecocks. Give them the gate and a little bonus. The league has it.

I know there’s no good decision here and everything is complicated. But still, Hur-a-cane.

This just feels wrong, it feels like we are in the way, but we are playing in Columbia. McGarity says the final decision is the SEC’s so this is what we have. Hopefully it all works out and is a nice distraction. Man it’s going to be weird. Since we are going to play this game hopefully it’s a good one.

And if it’s not, no complaining. Your house will still be there in the morning.

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