"One of the things you can't mess with is lightning. We didn't want our guys out there with lightning overhead," Head Coach Bobby Johnson said. "When we realized another cell was approaching behind the first one, it was obvious we were not going to get back out on the field.
"I'm disappointed because I thought our guys were ready to play. You also have a lot of family members who travel to campus to enjoy this day and they also miss an opportunity to watch her sons play," the head coach said.
The team appeared on the field around 2 p.m. as scheduled, and players began their stretching exercises and unit drills. The crowd of around 250-300, which included a good number of recruits and their families, was warned of impending bad weather, and most moved up into the covered seats beneath the pressbox.
Before the action Vanderbilt's 2004 captains were introduced: junior defensive end Jovan Haye, senior offensive lineman Justin Geisinger, senior receiver Chris Young, and junior quarterback Jay Cutler. All but Young were captains in 2003.
The scrimmage began about 2:25. Though the action was an offense-vs.-defense scrimmage rather than a real game, it was played under game-like conditions, with referees, announcers and statisticians.
With Jay Cutler calling the signals, the offense moved impressively down the field against the defense (good thing or bad thing?). Cutler threw all four of his passes crisply for completions, and running back Norval McKenzie scored a touchdown on a three-yard option play to the left.
At that point, about five minutes into the action, the crowd was asked to exit the stadium, as lightning had been spotted in the area. Some fans left, while others waited patiently beneath the stands as the winds blew through and lightning crackled. The team waited in the stadium locker rooms, hoping that play could eventually be resumed.
After more than an hour, the PA announcer announced that the day's activities had been cancelled.
Though the public scrimmage will not be rescheduled, Johnson said he may put in a call to see if the practice opportunity can be reclaimed. The NCAA allows 15 practice opportunities during the spring, and the Black and Gold Scrimmage would ordinarily count as one. Regardless, the Commodores should have at least three more practice sessions this spring, and all are open to the public.