Now, Texas Is Scheming for Ike

Mack Brown has never worked a team this hard for an ‘open' date in the schedule. Then again, the Texas coach has never had a game canceled due to a hurricane.

Hurricane Ike is projected to make landfall as a Category 3 storm just south of Galveston early Saturday morning. Tropical storm winds and heavy rain are expected in the Austin area.

"The decision was made on the side of caution," Brown said Thursday. "This is not about football. This is about people, and their lives, and their homes."

Game time has not been set for the Longhorns' date with Arkansas, postponed from Saturday until September 27. Brown was notified of the postponement Wednesday night after he finished his weekly radio broadcast. UT officials made it clear that the game would remain in Austin despite concerns that the annual Austin City Limits music festival had filled most of the hotel rooms in the area. An estimated 60,000 attended last year's ACL Fest.

Texas typically prepares for "three or four games" when it has an early ‘open' week, Brown said. Now, his primary agenda during the next 72 hours is get his team ready for Rice and monitor the whereabouts of more than 100 scholarship athletes and walk-ons. The Horns practiced Thursday afternoon and will be released Friday after classes.

Some families of players from east Texas are expected to evacuate to Austin. Players who leave Austin have been instructed to notify coaches in advance and then notify the staff upon arrival at their destination. The Horns are scheduled to practice Sunday evening.

Texas coaches will also E-mail recruits who had planned on attending the Arkansas game.

"We had a great group of prospects that we expected this weekend," Brown said. "We expect that they'll return during the next two weeks for either Rice or Arkansas."

The shift in the ‘open' dates has made a "difficult schedule even more difficult for both teams," Brown noted. Texas, of course, begins a killer stretch following the Arkansas game: at Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State and at Texas Tech. The Hogs now must play Alabama, Texas, Florida and Auburn in successive weeks.

The one positive for Texas is that the cancellation allows some players to heal from nicks and bruises, Brown noted. In addition, "We will remain undefeated this weekend," Brown said.

It was part of the gallows humor that counters the seriousness of a deadly storm that puts football into perspective.

"Our players are frustrated that we're not playing this weekend," Brown said, "but there are a lot more people who have a lot more problems than we have. We need to pray for them. We're frustrated, but we'll still get to play this game. The people who are really frustrated are those who have to leave their businesses and homes and may not have a home to come back to."


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