Sunday December 3, 2023

Finding a Way to Play

  • Hurricane Ida devastated Southeast Louisiana, but it won't stop local FBS football teams from forging ahead with their Week 1 games.
  • Tulane relocated to Birmingham and LSU evacuated to Houston.
Photo: LSU Athletics/Design: Alex Brooks
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When it became clear Hurricane Ida would become a lethal storm, Louisiana residents began to contemplate the same question from 16 years ago, the day before Katrina made landfall: Stay put and ride out the storm, or evacuate to surrounding states?

For FBS football players at LSU and Tulane — two schools directly in Ida’s path — the choice was made for them. Even a Category 4 hurricane couldn’t stop them from finding a way to play their Week 1 matchups.

Over the weekend, the teams evacuated Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The Green Wave headed to Birmingham, Alabama, and set up camp at UAB. On Monday, Tulane coach Willie Fritz told reporters that he and players — many of whom are from the New Orleans area — were “waiting to find out how everything is going at home.” 

On Tuesday, as Ida’s remnants battered Birmingham with rain, the team moved their practice to Tuscaloosa at the University of Alabama, per SI.

The Tigers, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction, fleeing to Houston. Coach Ed Orgeron posted a photo Monday evening of the team on the Texans’ field. 

The Tigers will remain in Houston until Thursday, when they’ll fly straight to Los Angeles to prep for their season opener against UCLA, the team said. 

Tulane has a particular financial incentive to play Saturday. The program had a lucrative home game scheduled against Oklahoma — part of a three-game contract that brought in more than $1 million to the school, according to

Despite the uncertainties, Tulane and Oklahoma reworked their plans to play the game: Oklahoma will host, but will give Tulane all its “net proceeds from ticket sales.” Tulane will continue practicing in Alabama “until it is safe to return to New Orleans,” the team announced.

Most of New Orleans and parts of Baton Rouge remain without power, so the future schedule for home games hasn’t been announced yet. 

“We’re just kind of rolling with the punches,” Fritz said.

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