Sports Nebraska says it was prepared play football on Sunday, but Akron pulled plug
Mitch ShermanESPN Staff WriterClose
- Nebraska/Big Ten/Recruiting reporter.
- Joined ESPN in 2011.
- Graduated from the University of Nebraska.
Amid severe weather on Saturday night, Nebraska was planning to move the Cornhuskers’ season opener in Lincoln to Sunday.
Akron said no, according to Nebraska officials.
Athletic director Bill Moos issued a statement on Sunday, saying “logistical challenges” forced the Zips to pull the plug. Akron stayed in southwest Omaha, some 40 miles from Memorial Stadium, on Friday night and had checked out of its hotel before busing to Lincoln on Saturday afternoon. The Akron players and coaches flew home to Ohio late Saturday night via charter from the Lincoln airport.
Lightning in the area forced Nebraska officials to halt the game immediately after the opening kickoff. The stadium was evacuated approximately two hours later as a storm cell with strong winds and heavy rain approached. Shortly after, the game was canceled.
Behind the scenes, according to Bob Burton, Nebraska deputy AD and chief of staff for Moos, the home school communicated with the Big Ten and its television partner, Fox, making plans to play the game on Sunday morning.
“Difficult but doable,” Burton said of the challenges associated with a Sunday kickoff at the 85,458-seat stadium, sold out for the 362nd consecutive game.
But Moos emerged from a meeting with Akron athletic director Larry Williams, Burton said, and told his staff that the Zips “do not want to play on Sunday.”
Williams said in a statement on Sunday that the school tried to get hotel rooms for the team “within a reasonable distance” from Lincoln but found no accommodations or only availability that would’ve spread the team in multiple locations.
The Mid-American Conference school was set to receive a $1.17 million payday for the game in Lincoln. Asked if Akron would get paid for the trip, Burton said, “I don’t know the answer to that.”
“I’m sure the university’s going to be talking about the language in the contract,” he said. “But that’ll be done with our CFO and athletic director talking with Akron.”
No refunds will be issued for game tickets, many of which were sold on the secondary market for well above face value as the scheduled opener was to mark the anticipated coaching debut at Nebraska of Scott Frost.
Williams said Akron and Nebraska are “in discussions to make up the game in Week 14 of the college football season should either team need the game to become bowl eligible.”
Nebraska has an open date scheduled for Oct. 27 and could play on the weekend of Dec. 1 if not involved in the Big Ten championship game.
The Huskers are set to open Saturday at home against Colorado (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC and the ESPN app).