Florida A&M QB Rasean McKay (L) in November 2021. Florida A&M Rattlers quarterback Rasean McKay (17) warms up before kickoff for the Florida Classic at Camping World Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Famu V Bcu Warmup014

College football games have sometimes been canceled on short notice over extreme weather or COVID-19, but reports of a season-opening game going down the day before it was scheduled to be played over player ineligibility are something new. Those spread around Twitter Friday ahead of the North Carolina Tar Heels’ planned hosting of the Florida A&M Rattlers Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, ACC Network), though, starting with reports from the Rattler Nation blog that covers Florida A&M and quickly expanding from there:

However, ESPN’s Thamel later noted that Florida A&M officials say the game will go on:

And HBCU Gameday (a site covering historically black colleges and universities since 2012, which struck a partnership with the McClatchy newspaper group earlier this month) got some comments from both North Carolina and Florida A&M officials earlier Friday afternoon, which suggested the game would still be played:

UNC officials tell HBCU Gameday’s Skip Foreman that they were still planning for the game to go on.

In Chapel Hill, officials were making plans for Saturday as if the game was going to be played. Although a spokesman for the department wasn’t immediately available for comment, people connected with the athletics office said they had received no such word.

HBCU Gameday’s Vaughn Wilson reached out to FAMU officials to see the status for the visitors.

“The FAMU football team is delayed in their departure from Tallahassee. A source in the university expects the team to make the trip to Chapel Hill later today.”

And Thamel added details on how many players may be missing:

This will be worth keeping tabs on on several levels. First, having that game go on matters quite a bit for both UNC and Florida A&M: the Tar Heels are paying the Rattlers $450,000 to travel for this game (plus paying to bring in their band, and to put this on as a HBCU Celebration Game), and hoping to get their season off to a winning start after a 6-7 campaign last year. For the Rattlers, who play in the Division I FCS Southwestern Athletic Conference and posted a 9-3 record there last year, this is also a chance for their school and their players (including returning redshirt junior QB Rasean McKay, seen at left above ahead of a Nov. 20 game last year) to gain significant scouting and TV exposure by playing a Power Five FBS school. So not having it go on would be a blow for both sides. But having it go on with an extremely reduced Rattlers’ lineup and potential safety concerns carries its own issues. This will be well worth tracking.

[HBCU Gameday; photo from Alicia Devine/The Tallahassee Democrat, via USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.