UPDATE (8/28, 5:30 p.m.) -
LSU's season opener against BYU will be played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans Saturday. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m.
LSU players were kept in the dark, much like everyone else.
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva on Monday said there was still no decision on where the Tigers will play BYU for their season opener Saturday, but he hoped there would be an announcement no later than Tuesday.
However, Alleva said he has high confidence the game will be played.
"Barring something crazy happening, I'm very confident," Alleva said.
Alleva declined to discuss any of the potential sites for the game but said it was unlikely that it would be played at Tiger Stadium. He stressed that ESPN is driving negotiations for moving the game from Houston, which has been ravaged by unprecedented flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
"This is ESPN's game, not LSU's game," Alleva said. "They're negotiating where it will be played. Hopefully (it will be decided) within the next 24 hours."
The Advocate earlier Monday reported that a handful of sites joined New Orleans in being contacted by ESPN regarding hosting the game, including Orlando, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Jacksonville, Florida; and Dallas.
UPDATE (8/28, 5:30 p.m.) -
New Orleans is formulating a proposal to be sent to game officials, as are the other cities. A timetable for an announcement could be pushed to late Monday or Tuesday.
New Orleans seems like one of the more likely locations, but the city might see weather trouble from the same system that washed out Houston. Harvey, now a tropical storm, is predicted to slowly move northeast, potentially causing heavy rain in New Orleans, which experienced massive flooding earlier this month.
LSU is familiar with all the options involved.
LSU played in Orlando’s Camping World Stadium in December, beating Louisville 29-9 in the Citrus Bowl. Jacksonville hosts the TaxSlayer Bowl, formerly the Gator Bowl, at EverBank Field, where the Tigers haven’t played since 1987. LSU played Notre Dame in the 2014 Music City Bowl the last time the program traveled to Nashville, losing to the Irish 31-28 at then-LP Field, now Nissan Stadium.
The Southeastern Conference is taking on a significant role in this process. SEC administrators and ESPN executives are reaching out to stadiums.
In Nashville, Scott Ramsey, president and CEO of the Music City Bowl, says his staff is still evaluating whether they could host a game, checking availability of police, hotels and other personnel. He plans to report back to the SEC and ESPN later Monday. He did not know their timeline.
“We’ve got sort of a checklist,” he said. “We’re working through that today.”
Orlando, meanwhile, is in discussion with ESPN game officials and is prepared to host. No game is scheduled at either of those stadiums for this weekend. The Citrus Bowl has been working to get a kickoff game for years and is ready to offer its services, officials said Monday morning.
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Representatives at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas confirmed that ESPN reached out to them as well. Jacksonville officials have not returned messages, but the city is believed to be in consideration.
Game officials, primarily from ESPN, are deciding among five locations, according to LSU spokesman Bill Franques. The decision ultimately lies with ESPN. The network owns the rights to the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff.
The Tigers are ready, if need be, to host the game at Tiger Stadium, but ESPN may want to keep it a neutral-site affair.
Arlington, Texas, like New Orleans, is a risk, as the path of Harvey could affect that city. Also, AT&T Stadium is hosting Florida and Michigan in a game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. LSU and BYU cannot play Sunday. BYU does not allow its athletic teams to play Sundays, under university policy in accordance with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Coach Ed Orgeron, preparing to open his first full season as LSU's coach, said his team will be ready.
"Wherever they tell me we're going to play, we'll be ready to go, and we'll play like Tigers," he said.
Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.
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