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Hurricane Ivan puts LSU-Auburn game in limbo

Posted: Wednesday September 15, 2004 2:21PM; Updated: Wednesday September 15, 2004 2:21PM
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Auburn's players will be getting plenty of bonding time in preparation for Saturday's game with No. 5 LSU.

They'll be riding out Hurricane Ivan at the athletic complex, sleeping on the floor and couches for at least Wednesday and Thursday nights.

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"For the next 48 hours, we're going to live together as a team," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said Wednesday. "It's one of those situations that you can't avoid. It's all about safety first."

The Tigers are one of many teams in the state and Southeast combatting distractions and uncertainty with the hurricane putting their games in question.

No. 14 Auburn remains set to play LSU on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in a game nationally televised by CBS. Alabama is set to host Western Carolina on Saturday night.

The biggest concerns are having enough support personnel available to work the games and travel plans for the visiting teams, both set to make the trip Friday.

"We want to play the game, but I think we want to play the game if it's safe for our fans, if it's safe from a security standpoint," LSU coach Nick Saban said.

His team is scheduled to fly into Montgomery on Friday, but LSU officials have been researching other options.

"I don't think it's important to make a decision right now," Saban said.

Alabama coach Mike Shula said the team is preparing for the game while other school officials are working the phones in case it has to be rescheduled.

"We've got everybody buzzing around making a lot of phone calls right now to where if we have to make a change in schedule, we can get the logistics taken care of," Shula said.

Classes were canceled at Auburn, Alabama and LSU for the rest of the week.

A number of players also are coping with the news that some of their players' families were being evacuated. Saban estimated the families of "20 or 25" of his players live in New Orleans, which has been evacuated.

"I talked to the players a little bit about it," Saban said. "I think it's of some concern, but at the same time I think they would rather know that they had evacuated and moved to safety than to worry about them staying where they are and being in danger."

Auburn and Alabama officials were expected to make final decisions on the game status by Friday morning.

Auburn and LSU both have an open date on Nov. 6 while Alabama and Western Carolina don't have a common open date.

If the games are played, Tuberville knows it could be hard for many fans to attend.

"This is entertainment," he said. "We want it to be an entertaining game. And we want everyone who wants to come to this game to have an opportunity. This is totally out of our control.

"There's nothing we can do if we have half a stadium full or whatever."

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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