LSU-Arizona State still set for Tiger Stadium
By Jim Kleinpeter
Saturday, 09/03, 4:40 p.m.
BATON ROUGE – LSU is moving ahead with plans to play Arizona State on Sept. 10 in Tiger Stadium but school officials acknowledged nothing was set in stone in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
LSU already postponed its original season opener against North Texas scheduled for Saturday and with helicopters continuing to bring refugees needing medical treatment to the campus and the situation in southeast Louisiana still dire, the game against the No. 20-ranked Sun Devils is in jeopardy of being moved or postponed.
Right now, the game is on as planned, according to senior associate athletic director Dan Radakovich.
“That’s (moving or changing the game) not in our thought process,” Radakovich said. “There’s nothing to indicate we would move in any other direction. We’re moving forward as if there will be a game Saturday.”
No. 5 LSU and Arizona State are scheduled to kickoff at 7:45 p.m. in a game to be broadcast by ESPN. Radakovich said LSU and North Texas are targeting Oct. 29 – an open date on LSU’s schedule – for that game, but that would necessitate other games being moved around. North Texas is scheduled to play University of Louisiana-Monroe on that date. An announcement could come early next week, Radakovich said.
Herb Vincent, LSU’s associate athletic director for internal affairs, said the school is being careful to be sensitive to the sad and tragic situation in Louisiana, in cooperation with the local, state and federal agencies involved in the relief effort. Vincent said the school wants the timing to be right so that the game becomes something positive amidst the chaos, tragedy and destruction.
“The overriding purpose of playing this game is for it to play a role in the recovery effort,” Vincent said. “LSU football is something people rally around, something they get excited about, something that makes them feel good. At some point something good needs to happen. At some point an LSU game is the right thing to do. Is it this Saturday? I don’t know, but right now we have to prepare for that.”
“People might ask how we can play with helicopters flying in injured people and ambulances coming down Nicholson Drive, but that’s why we postponed the game tonight (Saturday). It’s the unknown that keeps us from making a decision right now.”
Another possibility is moving the game, either to Arizona State’s Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, or to a site elsewhere in Louisiana, such as Shreveport’s Independence Stadium or ULL’s Cajun Field. University officials have indicated that is unlikely but won’t rule it out.
LSU first-year coach Les Miles said his team is eager to play an opponent other than itself, but backs whatever decision is finalized.
“We’re preparing to play,” Miles said. “We’re not looking at other inevitabilities. If at some point in time that happens, I’m sure the powers that be will make the right decision and I will fully support that decision.”
Players, many of whom have contributed to the relief effort, are tired of hitting each other for the past five weeks and would like to play for themselves and the state.
“We need to play a game to get the people feeling good and build their spirits back up,” said wide receiver Skyler Green, who is from Avondale and has 18 relatives with him in his two-bedroom campus apartment. “We want to make them proud and give them some normalcy for a little while.”
Vincent said playing the game Saturday will present many challenges. Many of the personnel such as campus, state and city police officers are involved in the relief effort and won’t be available for security and traffic control. And the American Red Cross, which provides medical stations for the 90,000 plus fans, has had workers drawn to hurricane relief.
For fans who left tickets behind while evacuating their homes, Vincent said the school will work with ticket holders of record who bring identification to the ticket office. Also, Arizona State has offered to return 5,000 tickets purchased by Sun Devil fans to be donated to hurricane relief workers. Many Arizona State fans will not be making the trip because of the circumstances in Louisiana.