<
>

Surreal morning setting at Tiger Stadium

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

BATON ROUGE, La. -- You've heard of Breakfast at Wimbledon?

Well, welcome to Breakfast at Tiger Stadium.

Being at this place this early on a Saturday morning with only a fraction of the tailgating going on as normal is almost surreal. It's less than 40 minutes until the 10 a.m. CT kickoff (the earliest start time for an LSU game in modern-day history), and the stadium's not even a third full.

Some of the LSU people I've talked to were hoping for 70,000-plus, but it might be closer to 60,000 for the matchup between the defending FBS champs (LSU) and three-time defending FCS champs (Appalachian State). Capacity for Tiger Stadium is 92,400.

The pregame scene was also as tame as I've seen it around here. Many of the fans were tuned into radios trying to get the latest on Hurricane Gustav and when the potential evacuation out of New Orleans might begin. If an evacuation is necessary, it sounds like it might be Saturday night or Sunday morning. But many people in the New Orleans area have already packed up and started to leave.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal had some of his staff members advising him to postpone the game altogether. But Jindal listened to as many people as possible and decided that moving the game up to an earlier start time made the most sense.

Had the game been postponed, LSU senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent told me Saturday morning that he didn't see any way it could have been made up. Compounding the problem, according to Vincent, was that LSU's second game against Troy next Saturday could also be in peril depending on when and where the storm hits.

If LSU's facilities are being used for medical purposes or for any other relief efforts next weekend after the storm, it would have been next to impossible to play a football game, Vincent noted.

In 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and all of its destruction, LSU didn't play a home game until late September against Tennessee, and that came on a Monday night.

As for the football game itself, the players rolled out of their beds Saturday morning around 6 a.m. and arrived at the stadium a little before 8 a.m.

LSU coach Les Miles has still yet to announce it, but I've heard that the plan is to start sophomore Andrew Hatch at quarterback. The Tigers will also play redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee in the game and would like to get true freshman Jordan Jefferson some snaps as well.