southernfvsu668.093017.jpg

Southern University head coach Dawson Odums paces the sideline in the first half of Jaguars' game against the Fort Valley State Wildcats, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 at A.W. Mumford Stadium. SU led 21-14 at the half.

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY TRAVIS SPRADLING

With Tropical Storm Nate on track to make landfall early Sunday morning in Louisiana, Southern will kick off its homecoming matchup against Alabama A&M at 1 p.m. Saturday, moving the game five hours earlier than its original start time.

"Our policy is to error on the side of caution for situations that involve the safety and well-being of our students, fans and alumni," athletic director Roman Banks said in a news release. "With the weather projections surrounding Tropical Storm Nate, we felt it was in the best interest of the Southern University community to move the start time up to allow everyone safe passage home."

The Jaguars were one of four Louisiana college football teams to move up kickoff times Saturday. Tulane, Nicholls State and Southeastern are all now kicking off before noon Saturday. 

Southern's homecoming parade, which was scheduled to start at 8 a.m. on game day, is canceled. So are all other scheduled activities for game day.

The other activities could be made up at a later date, likely Southern's lone remaining home game Nov. 4 against Prairie View. 

Banks said the nature of homecoming made a "huge" impact on the way his staff in the athletic department approached the idea of shifting kickoff to an earlier time. 

But, Banks said, "we still know safety is first." 

The track for Tropical Storm Nate caught Banks a little by surprise. As he usually does Thursday mornings before a home game, he held a meeting with the people in charge of making sure game day runs smoothly. 

The first thing that came up at Thursday morning's meeting was the possibility of weather being a factor this Saturday — particularly when it came down to people making it home from campus.

When Banks went to bed Wednesday night, he thought the worst Baton Rouge would see this weekend was a little bit of rain. 

"It took me by surprise how fast it changed," Banks said. 

Banks spoke with university president Raymond Belton about moving kickoff to earlier in the afternoon. By about Thursday afternoon, however, Southern made its decision to start at 1 p.m. Saturday against Alabama A&M. 

"Hopefully we can get everyone safe and sound back to where they need to go," Banks said. 

Campus tailgating lots will open at 6 a.m. Saturday. Fans looking to buy tickets can do so at the A.W. Mumford Stadium ticket office only — the F.G. Clark Activity Center ticket office will not be open — and fans can buy tickets from 9 a.m. until the start of the third quarter. 

The stadium gates will open at 10:30 a.m.