The University of Miami announced on Wednesday it was canceling the Hurricanes’ football game at Arkansas State on Saturday because of Hurricane Irma’s impact on South Florida and concerns about a safe return trip Miami.
That decision has been applauded by some and criticized by others, including an Arkansas State fan website and CBS college football analyst and former coach Rick Neuheisel.
The website, AStateNation.com, part of the Scout.com network, published an editorial criticizing the Miami Hurricanes for not wanting to play Arkansas State after the Red Wolves gave Nebraska a tough game last week.
“I am all for safety and putting life ahead of football, but it is crass to use those as an excuse to avoid playing a game you don’t want to play,” the author of the piece, who goes by the username “Arkstfan” wrote. “#16 Miami, once a program vaunted for its willingness to play anyone, any place, is using Hurricane Irma to avoid traveling to Jonesboro to play Arkansas State after the Red Wolves lost at Nebraska when the potential game-tying or winning touchdown went off the fingertips of Kendrick Edwards.”
“How do we know that the Hurricanes want to dodge a tough game?
“There are three FBS schools in the Miami metro area. Florida Atlantic is still traveling to play Wisconsin. Florida International is seeking a neutral site for their home game against Alcorn State. Only Miami is unwilling to play football. FIU wants to play because Alcorn is winnable. FAU wants to play to get their 7 figure guarantee.
“The Hurricanes? They have to defend their national ranking against a team that put Nebraska on the ropes and only receive $300,000 for it. The motivation is just transparent.”
Neuheisel, in an interview with ESPNU Radio, called it “suspicious” that Miami is not willing to play the game.
“I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with being very safe and an ounce of prevention, right, the old saying, but FAU, which is sitting there in Boca, is traveling to Wisconsin this week,” Neuheisel said. “FIU has changed their home game with Alcorn State to travel to Birmingham and play. South Florida’s traveling to Connecticut to play. Central Florida’s playing on Friday night.
“By the way, the folks in Arkansas State offered Miami to come and play on Friday, if that would make it easier for them. And Florida moved their game up to play Northern Colorado to noon to make sure everybody… I get it, but this is suspicious.”
— ESPNU Radio on SXM (@ESPNUonSiriusXM) September 7, 2017
Several Miami football players have tweeted about the plans they are making to leave South Florida before Hurricane Irma arrives.
Miami wide receiver Braxton Berrios addressed some of the criticism on his Twitter account on Wednesday.
Arkansas State AD Terry Mohajir issued the following statement on Wednesday after the cancellation was announced.
“Having lived in Palm Beach County for seven years, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in South Florida as they prepare for Hurricane Irma.
“Over the past 24 hours I had numerous exchanges with University of Miami Athletics Director Blake James, offering to make additional accommodations for his players and program to assist them with their trip to Memphis and Jonesboro. This morning I spoke with Blake, who informed me their team will not be making the trip to Jonesboro to play in our game this Saturday.
“I appreciate the Sun Belt Conference office, Commissioner Karl Benson and ESPN’s work to give us the option to move the game and broadcast to Friday night, which gave the University of Miami an alternative. Ultimately, the Miami administration made the decision not to travel.
“We are currently working through all the variables associated with the game not being played. We will keep the fan base and media updated as we know more.”