The threat of historic flooding in South Carolina forced South Carolina coaches out of Williams-Brice Stadium, but coach Steve Spurrier said he expects his team’s preparations for Saturday’s game with No. 7 LSU to go on as planned.
Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CDT in Columbia, which was inundated by more than a foot of rain Sunday.
South Carolina coaches were reviewing film from the Gamecocks’ 24-10 loss Saturday at Missouri when police urged them to leave about 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
“A lot of areas were being closed down,” Spurrier said Sunday on a media teleconference. “We were advised to leave the stadium and try to get home.”
Williams-Brice Stadium is just east of the Congaree River, a major waterway that flows through Columbia. The stadium’s distance to and relation to the river is similar to Tiger Stadium’s relation to the Mississippi River.
The Congaree was at 31.7 feet at 6 p.m. EDT Sunday, nearly 13 feet above flood stage. It was expected to crest at 32.5 feet Sunday night.
A state of emergency has been declared in South Carolina, where at least four people have died in storm-related incidents. Columbia issued a boil water advisory because of broken water mains affected by flood water, and the city was under a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew starting Sunday night.
More than 150 roads were closed in Richland County, where Columbia sits, and Lexington County just across the Congaree to the west. At least three dams in Richland County area had failed as of Sunday morning.
Jonathan Kennedy, a meteorologist for the ABC affiliate in Columbia, tweeted a picture Sunday of a submerged SUV and trailer Saturday night on a road near Williams-Brice Stadium.
The University of South Carolina canceled classes Monday. South Carolina sports information director Steve Fink said the Gamecocks (2-3, 0-3 SEC) are scheduled to practice Monday night.
Fink said rain continued to fall Sunday night and may not clear until Tuesday.
SEC (and former LSU) spokesman Herb Vincent said Sunday there have been no discussions about the game as yet at the league office.
“Not six days out,” he said. “We’ll see what reports we get this week.”
LSU already has lost a football game to weather this year. The Tigers’ Sept. 5 season and home opener against McNeese State was canceled by lightning. It was the first LSU game to be canceled since the entire 1918 season was called off because of World War I.
But that was a nonconference game. Since this is an SEC game and crucial to the integrity of the conference race, it’s a virtual certainty it will be played.
“You always make every effort to play a conference game,” Vincent said.
“My first thoughts and prayers are with the people of South Carolina and their safety,” LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said. “Football is a game, but we are talking about life and death.”
LSU is 4-0 after Saturday’s 44-22 victory over Eastern Michigan. The Tigers are 2-0 in the SEC, one of only three undefeated teams left in the conference along with No. 9 Texas A&M (5-0, 2-0) and No. 11 Florida (5-0, 3-0).