GAINESVILLE, Fla. — About a half hour before Florida coach Jim McElwain went on the air for his weekly appearance on “Gator Talk,” the announcement came down that the team’s football game with Northern Colorado this weekend had been cancelled.
McElwain went on the radio as scheduled and shared his reaction to the news.
“As good as it would have been to play, you realize there’s a lot bigger things in life than third down and 6 and this obviously is one of those,” he said. “We had 45 guys basically of the 120 that we have with family down in South Florida, and obviously our concern (was) with those. And yet it was an opportunity for them to focus in on something for a couple hours, get their minds off maybe what is out there and what is going on. It also gave us an opportunity for other people maybe to get lost in a Gator game a little bit and not focus for a short period of time on what may occur.
“And yet I think it’s the right thing. I was thinking about coming to work this morning a little before 6 o’clock and it was me and a trucker going south on 75 and it was wall-to-wall bumper-to -bumper going about 5 miles per hour going north. It probably hit me at that point that there’s a lot bigger things than playing a football game.”
A day earlier Florida had announced it was moving the game from 7:30 p.m. Saturday to noon to hopefully finish before the brunt of the storm reached Gainesville, but the plans changed again Thursday evening.
McElwain said his team was disappointed and was excited to play a game this weekend, but he praised Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin and the administration for making the decision they ultimately did.
“My hat’s off, what they did,” he said. “The opponent originally was scheduled to fly in commercially to Tampa actually today. Our administration did an unbelievable job securing a charter flight for them to come tomorrow directly to Gainesville. I spoke with their coach yesterday and trying to make it happen. And yet as selfish as that may sound one of the things as we go through life is understanding that it’s not always about us, it’s about other people and what we can do to give of ourselves for other people. In this case with officials up in Tallahassee, the resources, the lack of gas, the people exiting and going north, just probably felt like this wasn’t the right thing.
“And yet for us, you adjust. We’ve bene through it once. This is game that won’t get rescheduled obviously and yet, you know what, what we’ve got o do is hunker down, give of ourselves for the people in distress and what may occur and when this passes get ready to play Tennessee in The Swamp next week.”
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