Hurricane Causes Texas Game To Be Postponed

FAYETTEVILLE — With Hurricane Ike expected to increase in power as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico, officials from Arkansas and Texas decided late Wednesday to postpone Saturday's football game in Austin.

The two schools had been in close contact over the past few days as they monitored the storm. An announcement regarding the status of the game was expected by Thursday afternoon, but because of safety concerns, officials went ahead and made the decision to postpone it Wednesday night.

Forecasters are predicting that Hurricane Ike could develop into a Category 4 storm and slam into the Texas coast by Saturday. Kickoff was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, but instead the game has been pushed back to Sept. 27.

"As we worked closely with the University of Texas to consider the options, the safety and welfare of the student-athletes, coaches and fans was everyone's top priority," Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement released Wednesday night through the university.

"In considering all of the factors, both institutions felt that postponing the game was the appropriate course of action. We appreciate the cooperation of the University of Texas and the various state and federal authorities in monitoring the situation and working together to make this decision.

"With this decision, we can now turn our focus to the safety and well-being of the citizens of Texas and others affected by Hurricane Ike."

Texas officials have kept a close eye on the hurricane since Sunday, and the two schools were holding out hope that the game could be played this weekend as scheduled.

But Hurricane Ike is expected to develop into a major storm by today. As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, the hurricane was 615 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas with winds at 100 miles per hour, according to The Weather Channel's Web site.

"We have been monitoring this situation since Sunday and, at this time, feel confident this is the right thing to do," Texas men's athletic director DeLoss Dodds said in a statement released through the university. "A football game becomes less important when you are dealing with the safety of the people of Texas."

Dodds said Tuesday that there were contingency plans if Saturday's game could not be played. One option was to move the game back to Sept. 27, when both Arkansas (2-0) and No. 8 Texas (2-0) have a bye that day.

Long and Dodds agreed that was the best possibility. Kickoff for the Sept. 27 game hasn't been decided yet, but it will still be played in DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Because of the change, Arkansas' players won't return to action until they face No. 11 Alabama in Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Sept. 20. The Hogs had a bye scheduled for the week after the Alabama game, but instead they'll face Texas, No. 4 Florida and No. 9 Auburn without a break.

"I want to play. I don't want a postponed game," Arkansas nose tackle Ernest Mitchell said Wednesday evening before the change in plans was announced. "We're all ready to play, ready to go up there (to Austin) and show what we're about."

The Razorbacks continued to practice Wednesday under the assumption that Saturday's game against Texas would be played. But it's uncertain if the team will practice this weekend because of the last-minute change.

More importantly, 23 players on Arkansas' roster are from Texas and many of their families still live in the Lone Star State. Naturally, players are concerned about what's going on back home.

"I've paid a little attention (to the weather reports) just because I have teammates with families down around there," Arkansas linebacker Elston Forte said. "I just keep an eye open and pray for them."

This marks the first time Arkansas has had a game moved since a home game against North Texas on Sept. 15, 2001 was canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Arkansas made up the game that year by adding Weber State to the schedule. The Hogs won 42-19 in Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Oct. 6, 2001.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories