During a Wednesday of decision-making that mirrored the complex and fractious nature of college football's power brokers, conference commissioners went separate ways in determining whether to play Saturday games in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the United States.
The NCAA announced Tuesday it would leave the decisions to its members. The conferences, not unlike the vast areas they represent, were all over the map.
In the end, nearly three dozen of the 116 Division I and I-AA games scheduled for this weekend will not be played, and only 12 schools ranked in the top 25 will be in action.
The Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference postponed all games, including the ACC showdown Saturday in Tallahassee between Georgia Tech and Florida State, but the Southeastern Conference showdown between No. 8 Tennessee and No. 2 Florida will be played in Gainesville.
The Pacific 10 Conference stuck with its decision to postpone its lone conference game, Arizona State at UCLA. Oregon, USC and Arizona have byes this weekend.
Three Pac-10 nonconference games -- Washington at Miami, California at Rutgers and Stanford at San Jose State -- were postponed by mutual consent of the universities .
Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen said two other games involving conference schools -- Colorado at Washington State and Montana State at Oregon State -- would be played as scheduled "if they can make the arrangements."
Six of the 10 games involving Big Ten schools will be played. The exceptions are Penn State at Virginia, San Diego State at Ohio State, Notre Dame at Purdue and Navy at Northwestern.
The Northwestern-Navy game was canceled.
"It's not like we're playing Western Kentucky," Northwestern Athletic Director Rick Taylor said. "It's the Naval Academy and the Pentagon. We had great, great, respect for their feelings. It was an easily reached mutual decision."
Notre Dame is a member of the Big East in all sports except football, in which it remains independent, but the Irish elected to honor the Big East's decision not to play. The Purdue-Notre Dame game has been moved to Dec. 1.
"In a nutshell, the magnitude of this travesty warrants a pretty significant mourning period for the nation," Notre Dame Athletic Director Kevin White said.
The Big 12 Conference will also play a limited schedule.
Nebraska decided late Wednesday to move its home game with Rice to Sept. 20, yet the Southeastern Conference has decided to play all nine games involving conference teams, including a matchup of No. 8 Tennessee at No. 2 Florida in Gainesville.
Hansen favored postponing all games this weekend, and tried to forward his opinion on a Wednesday conference call of Division I commissioners.
He soon realized that there was not going to be a consensus.
"Quite a few people wanted to reach a unified national position, but right from the start it was clear the SEC was going to play regardless," Hansen said.
When it became clear several school were going to play, Hansen said he became less adamant about two of his member schools, Oregon State and Washington State, not playing its scheduled home games.
The SEC issued a release defending its decision to play its full schedule.
SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer said his office conferred with the White House on the matter and was encouraged to "move forward."
"'We are following the guidelines of the President of the United States, not the guidelines of the Southeastern Conference," Kramer said.
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He cited a national television speech by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in which he said "football is part of the way of life in this country."
Football is certainly a way of life in the South.
"I believe this decision is correct and we are taking a very positive action," Kramer said. "We are not sitting back. We are going to make this a very meaningful Saturday for all of our people as well as for the victims and we feel this is the appropriate expression of that sentiment."
The SEC will donate $1 million of gate receipts to aid victims of the attacks.
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Hansen and Kramer also said they were informed that the national day of mourning would be Friday, not Saturday.
"If the national day of mourning had been set for Saturday, then many more of these games would not have been played," Hansen said.
In fact, the Mountain West Conference rescheduled Friday night's game between Colorado State and Nevada Las Vegas in Las Vegas for Oct. 20 because of the day-of-mourning conflict. The Big East and Atlantic Coast conferences elected not to play.
The Big East featured all nonconference matchups: Washington at Miami, Alabama-Birmingham at Pittsburgh, California at Rutgers, East Carolina at Syracuse, Connecticut at Temple and West Virginia at Maryland.
Commissioner Michael Tranghese said the vote among his athletic directors was unanimous.
"There is an increased sensitivity in the league because the story has touched New York, Boston, Washington and Pittsburgh," he said.
The Big East has member schools in or near New York, Boston and Pittsburgh, three cities directly involved in Tuesday's terrorists attacks.
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Tranghese said when the play resumes, all Big East players will wear American flags on the backs of their helmets for the rest of the season. ACC Commissioner John Swofford said his decision to postpone games was not easy.
"A good case can be made for playing or not playing the games this Saturday," he said in a statement. "It is the opinion of our conference members that this will allow an appropriate period of reflection and respect for those many people who have been impacted by the tragic events that took place."
The Big East and ACC could also more easily reschedule games than the Big 12 and SEC, the only two conferences that host championship games, to be played this year on Dec. 1.
Had the Tennessee-Florida game been moved to Dec. 1 and the SEC title game been pushed to Dec. 8, Florida would have faced the prospect of playing Florida State, Tennessee and the SEC title game in its final three games before the bowl season. Many schools not playing are scrambling to find makeup dates.
In the Pac-10, the UCLA-Arizona State and Stanford-San Jose State games will be played Dec. 1, while Washington at Miami has been moved to Nov. 24. No decision has been reached on California at Rutgers.
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