Mother Nature has created havoc with CFB schedule

No matter what happens the remainder of the 2017 college football season, an asterisk should be attached to any final rankings and decisions made by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.


*The affects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were considered in the final rankings .

Since the early part of every college football season is played in the height of hurricane season, adjusting to acts of nature has always been part of the landscape. Games are postponed, cancelled, rescheduled, sites are flipped. But generally such instances have been isolated moments, although there have been times when one postponement really did change the outcome of the season.

Perhaps the most noteworthy change was in 1998 when UCLA had its game at Miami on Sept. 26th called off because of the threats of Hurricane Georges, which was in the South Florida area. The game was originally cancelled, but then rescheduled to Dec. 6.

It didn't matter that on game day in September, the weather was warm and sunny since Hurricane Georges had missed the Miami area.

If the game had remained cancelled, UCLA would have finished the regular season with a 10-0 record and a No. 2 ranking in the BCS championship game in the Fiesta Bowl. But it was later rescheduled and Miami pulled off a 48-45 upset of the Bruins, knocking them out of the BCS title game.

Other weather related issues have occurred through the years---Notre Dame played a game at North Carolina State last fall in which the condition outside of Carter-Finley Stadium were treacherous, with flooded streets and high winds.

But college football, nor the country, has not seen a double hit over a three week period caused by Hurricane Harvey off the Texas coast and Hurricane Irma, which battered almost the entire state of Florida and sections of the Southeast.

Not since the 9-11 attacks in 2001 has college football had to deal with such a major disruption in the season.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

''In almost 40 years of working in this business, I've never seen anything like the problems that we had to deal with in working our way through these hurricanes,'' said American athletic commissioner MIke Aresco, who basicallly has had to rework his entire conference's schedule because of the postponements and cancellations caused by the hurricanes. "Were talking about two major hurricanes in a small stretch of time.''

Aresco points out the problems that one of his schools, USF (University of South Florida in Tampa) had to overcome, with the problems beginning when a conference game with USF traveliing to UConn had to be postponed on Sept. 9. Although the weather was fine in the Northeast, the threat was real in Tampa and Orlando, where another AAC team, UCF (University of Central Florida) was located.

Other Florida schools such as Miami, Florida, FSU, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, all cancelled or postponed games. Once that happened, finding ways to fit schedules together became the main priority in a narrow time frame.

""Everyone from administrators to coaches and service people were tremendous in making sacrifices,'' said Aresco, whose main task was to preserve the integrity of the regular season. "I must have made 500 calls in five days, trying to re-arrange games. It was like putting a puzzle together. You get one thing done, but the other part wouldn't. fit.''

Take USF, for example

The game between USF and UConn was rescheduled for Nov. 4, but that couldn't be finalized until new dates could be found for USF's game against Houston and UConn's game against East Carolina.

The UConn-East Carolina match-up was rescheduled for Sept. 24th, which was fine since it was an open week for both schools.

The USF-Houston game was moved to Oct. 28th, which meant Aresco had to find a new date for USF's game vs. Cincinnati. That game was moved to Oct. 14th, but that couldn't happen until UMass agreed to cancel its non-conference game against the Bulls. That game was put on hold until the 2022 or 2023 seasons.

The deal also worked out for UMass, since the series with USF was a home and home series which will continue next season in Amherst.

UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford immediately got on the phone and worked out a plan to play a road game at Florida International University in Miami on Dec 2. but that game was contingent on FIU not reaching the C-USA championship game, which is also scheduled for Dec 2.

Trading FIU for USF is a good deal for the victory-challenged UMass program.

""There were just so many problems we had to deal with,'' said Aresco. "I never seen anything quite like it.''

Re-scheduling also has included some problems dealing with competitive advantage or disadvantage.

Take the University of Miami, which hasn't played since its opening win over Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 2. The Canes' game against Arkansas State on Sept. 9 was cancelled and their game scheduled for Saturday against FSU was postponed until Oct. 7.

With destruction and flooding in the Miami area, Hurricane Coach Mark Richt has been practicing all week in Orlando in preparation for next week's game against Toledo.

Moving the FSU game to next month will make the game day operation easier, but it creates another issue.

After their game against the Seminoles, the Canes are scheduled to play a Thursday night game against Georgia Tech, which would have meant a short week against two difficult opponents,, but the ACC moved the Miami-Georgia Tech game back to Oct. 14.

Right now, Miami is not regarded as Final Four caliber team, but the Canes are scheduled to face Virginia Tech and Notre Dame this season and could have a rematch against FSU in the ACC championship game or meet someone like defending national champion Clemson.

In short, they can climb high in the ranking, barring an unexpected loss.

""It's just not the games,'' explained Aresco. ""There were the logistics of charter flights, hotel rooms, and dozens of other details which required co-operation from a lot people who worked hard to make it work.''

The games will be played, championships will be decided, but rest assured, college football will be happy not to deal with an asterisk in the future.[/membership]