Hurricane Irma notes: Bucs, USF games confirmed for Tampa this weekend; UCF, FIU games canceled

There will be football in Tampa this weekend, and the Buccaneers will finally get to start a season delayed by Hurricane Irma’s wrath.

The Bucs announced that they will be able to host the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay couldn’t play at Miami as scheduled in Week 1 because of the storm.

Buccaneers CEO Brian Ford says “hosting the game is important to us, as Tampa Bay has been through a lot over the past few days.

Also, No. 22 South Florida is resuming practice Tuesday and will play host to Illinois on Friday, also at Raymond James.

USF athletic director Mark Harlan says “we are confident that Friday’s game can proceed safely as scheduled without impacting the recovery efforts.”

Jaguars’ home opener vs. Titans ready to go as planned

The Jaguars’ home opener against Tennessee will be played in Jacksonville as scheduled.

Team president Mark Lamping and Mayor Lenny Curry made the announcement Tuesday at a Jacksonville fire station, just hours after the team returned home following an extended stay in Houston because of Hurricane Irma.

“It’s so important on so many different levels that we show the world that Jacksonville is open for business,” Lamping said.

The Jaguars spent three nights in Houston because of the hurricane.

Team officials wanted to inspect EverBank Field and meet with city leaders Tuesday before making a call on the game.

Owner Shad Khan also donated $1 million to a Florida’s First Coast relief fund.

The team is donating 5,000 tickets to first-responders and local residents affected by Irma.

“This is about bringing our city and community together,” Curry said. “This is about getting back to normal operations.”


Florida will host Tennessee as scheduled on Saturday

No. 23 Tennessee and 25th-ranked Florida will play as scheduled Saturday in Gainesville.

The Southeastern Conference announced Tuesday that the league opener for both teams will remain a 3:30 p.m. kickoff at Florida Field, keeping the game intact less than a week after Hurricane Irma devastated parts of the Sunshine State.

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin says the decision was made after meeting with city and campus officials. The stadium sustained only minor damage to signage.

The Gators (0-1) canceled their home opener last week against Northern Colorado because of the impending hurricane, which passed through Gainesville early Monday. It’s unclear how much practice and meeting time Florida has missed in the past week. The Volunteers (2-0) beat Indiana State 42-7 on Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee

USF to host Illinois on Friday night

No. 22 South Florida has begun preparation for Friday night’s home game against Illinois, reconvening for practice after having four days off due to Hurricane Irma, which forced cancellation of last weekend’s American Athletic Conference opener at Connecticut.

Coach Charlie Strong said about 70 percent of the team remained on campus to weather the storm, while others returned home to be with their families.

The coach likened preparing to face the Illini with a shortened practice schedule to cramming for a test. Strong stressed, however, that it’s important to keep football in perspective at a time when many Floridians have been devastated by the storm.

While the coaching staff and players may not be experiencing the same difficult circumstances as victims of the hurricane, Strong wants communities hit hard by Irma to know the Bulls care.

In an attempt to give back and provide a distraction to the problems caused by the storm, USF is inviting first responders and their families to attend the game free of charge. The Bulls are also offering complimentary admission to all high schools teams from throughout the state.

Hard Rock Stadium declared safe

The home of the Miami Dolphins and Hurricanes has been declared safe after structural engineers found no damage related to Hurricane Irma.

The Hurricanes are scheduled to play the next game there Sept. 23 against Toledo.

“After thorough inspection by engineers, it has been deemed that Hard Rock Stadium experienced no structural damage from Irma,” Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel tweeted Tuesday. “We are good to go with CanesFootball on the 23rd!”

The Dolphins’ first game at the stadium will be Oct. 8. Their season opener scheduled at home this past Sunday was postponed until November because of the storm.

Engineers inspected the stadium canopy that was part of a recent $500 million renovation and found no issues, despite fears of a tornado in the area spawned by Irma.

The Dolphins’ practice complex has also been declared safe and will be available when the team returns from this week’s stay in California for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Garfinkel said.

FAU, Bethune-Cookman still on schedule to play Saturday

For now, Bethune-Cookman is still set to play at Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.

It’s still iffy.

Bethune-Cookman, which has been practicing at Southern University, was scheduled to fly back to Florida on Tuesday. FAU, which has been in Wisconsin since Friday, is planning to fly home on Wednesday.

But a planned 6:30 p.m. kickoff seems tentative at best, since Palm Beach County is still under a curfew that begins at 10 p.m. (though that may be lifted by the weekend). Hotel availability might be an issue as well.

Lane Kiffin and the Owls practiced inside Wisconsin’s stadium on Tuesday, and the Badgers have also opened their training table to FAU as well as doing whatever else they can to keep the team’s travel party comfortable.

UCF’s game vs. Georgia Tech canceled

UCF is hosting the National Guard this weekend, and not Georgia Tech.

The Knights will get a second consecutive weekend off from football games because of the effects of Hurricane Irma. UCF was scheduled to host Georgia Tech on Saturday but that game has been called off and will not be rescheduled. The school, located in Orlando, is using its stadium as a staging ground for 1,000 National Guard members and 250 vehicles needed to assist with Irma-related recovery.

UCF also couldn’t play this past weekend against Memphis because of the storm.

UCF athletic director Danny White says the Knights are “honored to host the National Guard and play a part in helping our community and state recover from Irma.”

Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury, who was UCF’s AD from 2012 through 2015, says he agrees with the move and that recovery from the hurricane “should be and is the top priority for UCF and the entire state of Florida at this time.”

Miami and Florida State, like UCF, are also going to miss two straight game weekends because of the storm.

FIU calls off game at Indiana

Florida International has called off its football game at Indiana on Saturday because of ongoing effects of Hurricane Irma.

Football and six other of the school’s teams are scheduled to leave Birmingham, Alabama on Wednesday and return to Miami. The only team staying behind is men’s soccer, which will play at UAB on Thursday before coming back.

The teams have been in Birmingham since last Thursday to escape Hurricane Irma.

The football team is looking for another game to fill its schedule. Scoreboards in the football stadium were damaged by the storm, as was the tennis facility and the basketball arena. FIU will evaluate those issues later this week.

FIU director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia says the Panthers’ athletes “handled all that came with this storm as well as they possibly could.”

FAMU set to host Tennessee State in Tampa on Saturday

The FAMU Tampa Classic is going to be played as scheduled.

Florida A&M will play host to Tennessee State in Tampa on Saturday, the Rattlers’ first time playing a home game in that city since 1996.

The game was in some doubt because of the impact of Hurricane Irma, but officials Tuesday confirmed plans to play.

All first responders will be given free tickets, along with their families. Donations for relief efforts will also be accepted.

Miami Central football team stuck in Vegas

Miami Central’s football team held practice Monday afternoon. In a parking lot. In Las Vegas.

Add that to the list of Hurricane Irma stories.

The high school team played Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas last weekend, and hasn’t been able to return to Miami because of the storm. So the team has stayed in Vegas, getting meals from local restaurants and even logistical help from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Central coach Roland Smith says “this is what makes America great. And I’m just thankful for Las Vegas, Nevada — the entire community — for taking care of us while we are stranded here.”

Bishop Gorman officials say they are picking up Central’s hotel tab.

Central running back James Cook says “it’s a great feeling to be on the road, but we have family back home we want to get to.”

Marlins Park roof suffers damage

Six percent of the membrane on the retractable roof at Marlins Park will need to be replaced after the season because of damage from Hurricane Irma.

The team made the announcement on Monday, saying that damage was to the rubber and plastic membrane on a facing panel of the roof, which weatherproofs the roof structure. The ballpark had no flooding or water damage.

The Marlins’ next home series beginning Friday against Milwaukee may need to be rescheduled, but not because of the roof. A decision on whether to change the schedule will hinge on local government efforts to recover from Irma, including the availability of police and fire rescue, a person familiar with the situation said.

U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship postponed

The U.S. Golf Association is postponing the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, which was scheduled to be played Oct. 7-12 at Quail Creek Country Club in Naples.

The USGA says Hurricane Irma’s “impact on the course” means the tournament cannot be played at this time.

The USGA says it will keep working with Quail Creek to determine when the championship will be played.