In Gustav's aftermath, LSU-Troy postponed until Nov. 15

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU postponed its football game against Troy after Hurricane Gustav damaged Tiger Stadium and battered Louisiana's capital city far worse than anticipated.

The university made the decision Wednesday after having a full day to get a handle on damage to the stadium and the community, much of which is expected to be without power into next week.

"It's the right decision," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "Our guys are maybe a little more affected than the Katrina and Rita duo -- more firsthand concerns, more power lines that they saw, more trees down that they saw and power outages affected us, affecting them than the last storm we had. They were a little ragged on Tuesday."

LSU players reported to their indoor practice field on Tuesday afternoon, first so coaches could make sure everyone was OK, then so they could have position meetings and practice in the hope that Saturday's game could be played as scheduled. A day later, it was obvious to LSU officials that was not going to happen.

"We would have loved to play the game, but it's not possible and the city of Baton Rouge is in too bad shape to take resources away to play a football game," LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said. "The welfare of the people of Baton Rouge, the uncertain power issues facing all of us and the condition of Tiger Stadium were all factors in making this decision."

The seventh-ranked Tigers' game against the Trojans will be played Nov. 15.

"We are fortunate that both schools had a common open date later in the year," Alleva said. "I am appreciative of the cooperation of the good people at Troy for their understanding of this situation."

Classes at LSU are canceled through the end of the week, with only part of campus on power generated by the school's emergency backup power plant.

LSU players practiced again Wednesday afternoon at their indoor facility, which also has backup power. Miles said they will continue to practice until Friday and then get the weekend off so those players whose families have damaged property in Louisiana can return home to help.

The most noticeable damage at Tiger Stadium were torn awnings that, along with their metal supports, were ripped off of an upper deck facades, crashing onto club seats below. Debris littered the stands and playing field soon after the storm had passed, though much of it had been cleaned up two days later.

Ronnie Haliburton, associate athletic director for facilities and grounds, said team benches that had been on the sidelines were lifted up and tossed into the lower rows of seats by wind that swirled around the stadium. Some seat backs also were broken apart, leaving sharp edges that could be a danger to fans if not replaced.

Haliburton said he would not know if the stadium lights or scoreboards were still working until regular power was restored. A generator was used to power meeting rooms below the stands behind one end zone.

"We don't know when power's going to come back on," Alleva said.

Troy athletic director Steve Dennis said his university was happy to accommodate the postponement.

"This is a football game, nothing more, and the people of Baton Rouge have more to worry about right now than a football game," Dennis said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Baton Rouge and LSU and we wish them nothing but the best as they work to overcome the effects of this storm."

Trees are down on campus and throughout Baton Rouge, some resting on the roofs of houses. Dangling and shredded power lines were also a common sight.

Normally, more than 100,000 fans flock to campus for LSU games, enjoying tailgate parties even if they cannot gain entrance to 91,600-seat Tiger Stadium, then filling area hotels.

LSU officials said there was no way the Baton Rouge area could accommodate such an event this weekend, but remained hopeful that a scheduled home game on Sept. 13 against North Texas would be played in Death Valley.

Haliburton said some damaged features in the stadium, such as the awnings, would be removed but not likely replaced right away. The goal is simply to make the stadium safe enough to pass a fire marshal's approval.

The eye of Gustav passed just west of Baton Rouge, battering the capital city with recorded gusts of 74 mph for hours. Damage appeared worse in Baton Rouge than in New Orleans, where the Saints remain scheduled to play their regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Louisiana Superdome on Sunday.

Tropical Storm Hanna also is causing schedule changes this weekend. The Colgate-Coastal Carolina football game has been moved from Saturday night to Sunday at 1 p.m. in Conway, S.C.

Alleva said LSU officials briefly talked about asking Superdome officials if they could host LSU's game this Saturday, but because Troy and LSU shared the same open date, and because a number of residents across many parts of the state are still reeling from the storm, it made more sense to reschedule the game for Tiger Stadium later this fall.