Arizona State’s scheduled game at Louisiana State on Saturday is still on, but school officials’ message to the players and coaches, an everdwindling traveling party and the media is to expect anything in the coming days.
As of Saturday morning, LSU’s position remains unchanged from previous days. The school — now a refugee port in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — will do all it can to stage the contest at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., at 5:45 p.m. (Arizona time).
However, the site could be moved to Independence Stadium in Shreveport or Cajun Field at Louisiana-Lafayette. Also, the federal or state government could insist that the game be canceled or postponed.
"Our impression, from an ASU perspective, is what we see on TV of New Orleans," coach Dirk Koetter said on Saturday. "Our mind-set is, ‘How are we supposed to go play a game there?’ They’re telling us that life is more normal in Baton Rouge, but we don’t know what that means. . . .
"I think the game is going to be played, I just don’t know where."
LSU officials have indicated that switching home dates in the two-game series with ASU — the Tigers are scheduled to visit Sun Devil Stadium in 2008 — is not a highly attractive option.
The population of Baton Rouge, about 70 miles from New Orleans, has more than doubled due to evacuees. At LSU, the Maravich Assembly Center has become a makeshift morgue and triage area.
"There are a lot of things going on right here on our campus that we have to consider," LSU spokesman Herb Vincent told the Baton Rouge Advocate. "We have some great challenges between now and next week to overcome."
One of those challenges, if the venue is Tiger Stadium, is the moral and ethical issue of holding a football game across the street from where sick, injured and deceased hurricane victims are being housed.
"You don’t want to see people partying and tailgating amid what’s going on around the (Maravich Center)," Tigers wide receiver Skyler Green told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
ASU could stay home if certain safety assurances are not met.
Will the Sun Devils get in and out of Louisiana without incident? And if a player is seriously injured during the contest, will an ambulance, hospital room, bed and doctor be readily available?
An ASU group — including associate athletic director Tom Collins and director of football operations Tom Kleinlein — will travel to Baton Rouge today to examine logistics. Meanwhile, Koetter said he has had "a couple" calls from players’ parents expressing concerns about the trip.
"I talked to the team and told the players to let me know if their parents are worried," Koetter said. "I’m sure as this plays out, we’ll hear more. A lot of our parents, remember, were planning to go."
ASU is expected to return most of its allotment of 5,000 tickets, with the request that they be donated to hurricane relief workers. Last week, the Sun Angel Foundation and ASU Alumni Association canceled travel plans to Louisiana.
Those who still expect to attend could have trouble finding lodging, given Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco’s order that evacuees staying at hotels cannot be booted because of prior reservations.
Quarterback Sam Keller said that he feels the Sun Devils will be prepared for wherever circumstances take them.
"We still have a business approach," Keller said. "There’s a tragedy down there that we have to think about first and foremost, but where we play is where we play."
The team is off today before practicing Monday through Wednesday. ASU is scheduled to depart for Louisiana on Thursday.
"It’s going to be a unique week coming up, and two pretty good football teams playing on the back end of it," Koetter said. "Hopefully, we can play where both teams have a fair chance to play football without other things on their minds."