Bower blasts Cal for 'unilateral' postponement

Updated: September 14, 2004, 9:35 PM ET
Associated Press

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Southern Mississippi coach Jeff Bower says 10th-ranked California jumped the gun by declaring Thursday's game postponed without first talking to Golden Eagles officials.

Concerned about the projected path of Hurricane Ivan, Cal athletic director Steve Gladstone on Monday afternoon said the game was postponed -- nearly 24 hours before Southern Miss officials planned to decide the status of the Golden Eagles' home opener.

Southern Miss AD Richard Giannini later Monday confirmed the game was off, then on Tuesday said the schools will get together to set a makeup date.

"That was (Cal's) decision," Bower said Tuesday. "That was a unilateral decision (which was) totally wrong by them. They didn't communicate with us whatsoever. We had told them we would make a decision by noontime on Tuesday -- plenty of time to decide their plans. They were dead-set on not wanting to come. Very unprofessional."

Gladstone did not immediately return telephone messages left Tuesday seeking comment.

Cal coach Jeff Tedford said an initial proposal to play the game this Saturday was out of the question because of concerns about travel, lodging and the potential aftermath of the menacing storm, which is projected to make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday along the Gulf Coast.

"To try to take the team across country with so many uncertainties was not very logical," Tedford said during the Pac-10's weekly teleconference Tuesday. "If we were the home team in this, we could say, 'Yeah, come on,' but we're trying to get a lot of things done and it just wasn't coming together. We exhausted all of our efforts here."

The postponement means Southern Miss could miss out on $140,000 in television revenue from ESPN, which was to televise the game, school officials said. Playing on TV in December is a possibility, officials said.

"With this storm coming this way, it's the best decision," Bower said of the postponement. "The only thing you can do is probably play it in December. I assume that's when it would be. We were hoping it would be, if this thing (Ivan) didn't come toward us, this weekend."

So, the stir-crazy Golden Eagles will have a few extra days to savor their unlikely win at Nebraska.

Southern Miss (1-0) was off the week before its 21-17 win last Saturday in Lincoln, and doesn't play until Sept. 25 at Tulane.

"It's not just the ESPN thing," linebacker Michael Boley said. "We already had the first week off. We don't want to have to play a game (Nebraska) and then have another open week before playing another game."

Cal (2-0) doesn't play again until Oct. 2 at Oregon State. The Golden Bears beat Southern Miss 34-2 in last year's season opener in Berkeley.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press