The Elon University football team has moved its game against the University of New Hampshire to 7 p.m. Friday night.
The decision was announced at 6 p.m. Tuesday night because of the inclement weather from Hurricane Matthew that’s expected to make its biggest impact on campus Saturday, when the game was originally scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
It’s only the second time in the school’s Division I era that a game has been moved from its original date — with the other was in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks shut down sporting events all over the country.
Head coach Rich Skrosky said Elon’s athletic administration had been in contact with New Hampshire throughout the day, keeping him in the loop. Director of Athletics Dave Blank told him during practice that the change was official.
“We talked about Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, but it seems like Friday was the best time for everyone involved,” Skrosky said. “In my opinion, it’s too late for us to move the game from a preparation standpoint.”
Skrosky told the team at the end of Tuesday’s practice, which concluded around 6:30 p.m. Senior offensive lineman O’Shane Morris already thought through some of the adjustments he’ll have to make for the game.
“I’m going to have to switch up my whole eating habits," Morris said. "Thursday is usually my big eating day, so I’m going to have to switch that to Wednesday. But besides that, it’s the same mindset. A little more excited that it’s Friday to get that high school feel, but it’s the same mindset going into the game.”
“That high school feel” is something Skrosky was acutely aware of, and said the local rivalry game between Eastern Alamance High School and Western Alamance High was in the consideration. In the end, the weather necessitated the one-time change, but Skrosky was not shy about his opinion on when football games should be played.
“I really dislike Friday college football games nationwide," Skrosky said. "We’re hurting our grassroots. Friday night is for high school football. This is obviously a different event. I get that it’s TV, but the teams that just schedule Friday night are hurting a great product in high school football. I feel strongly about that.”
There was a palpable excitement after Skrosky told the team — with hoots and hollers aplenty and smiles all around — especially from guys who hadn’t played on Friday nights in a while, like redshirt senior defensive lineman Jack Williams.
“It’s definitely exciting and fun,” Williams said. “It’s been five years, as a redshirt senior, so it’s been a minute, but I’m definitely looking forward to it. When the news broke, everybody was pretty excited and hyped.”
Elon has played during hurricane-like weather once, when the Phoenix won 30-20 at Stony Brook University Sept. 6, 2008, as Hurricane Hanna poured on the game. Skrosky was an assistant coach at Elon then, and felt that the memory of Elon’s close travel call played a factor for the switch.
“At Stony Brook, it was a 3 p.m. game that we asked to move to noon,” Skrosky said. “They said no because of the fans. I was pissed about it. It was the right thing to do. Fortunately, we got out, but it’s a safety thing. You’ve got 110 people on a flight.”
There was precedent set recently for this in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), as Skrosky said that the coaches for the 12 schools in the conference have talked about it at their last meeting.
“Back in May, we re-wrote the bylaws about suspended game,” Skrosky said. “In the event of lightning, thunder, or Mother Nature and the game is suspended, what exactly are the rules for a complete game or a non-complete game? When can you restart a game and when can’t you? That was a big topic for us this offseason.”
Elon isn't the first school to switch its schedule because of the anticipated weather, as Charleston Southern University postponed its game after rescheduling it for Thursday night. The Citadel moved its Saturday home game against North Greenville University to Thursday night at North Greenville. Others games are likely to be moved throughout the Southeast, and Skrosky said Elon had been in contact with Duke University about what they are planning to do with their home game Saturday. All four North Carolina Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schools have home games Saturday.
In the end, though, the Elon game will still be played, and Skrosky is hopeful that the night game can bring excitement around campus. Williams said he needed to make sure he told his mom and dad about the new time, and Morris is excited to, in one way, go back in time.
“Yeah, it’s a little one throwback for the season,” Morris said. “It’ll be cool to be under the lights.”
Skrosky added, “It’ll be fun.”