The Utes charter flight, which was scheduled to depart at midnight, is experiencing mechanical problems.
All the University of Utah football team wanted was for Saturday night after losing the season to Florida to get out of the state and the lung-crushing humidity. But the swamp wouldn’t let go.
The Utes’ charter flight, scheduled to depart from Gainesville Regional Airport around midnight after the game, was delayed due to mechanical problems, according to a Twitter post from Ute’s communications director Paul Kirk early Sunday.
The flight was rescheduled for 4:10 a.m. EDT, but did not take off at that time either. According to an tweet by ESPN commentator Dan Orlovskyon the plane, the team sat on the tarmac during the four-hour delay before being unloaded.
Photos posted at 5:25 am show players sprawled on the airport floor and on benches while they waited for their flight.
The team is “working on alternate plans to bring the team back to SLC as soon as possible,” Kirk wrote. In the meantime, he said, the University of Florida offered to help with accommodation for the team and tour group. Ute’s athletic director Mark Harlan later tweeted in response to this article that the Gators had provided a hotel partner, buses and meals. He said he expected Utah to be able to charter a flight home by the end of the day.
In fact, the Utes finally landed back in Salt Lake City just before 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Some members of the coaching staff were able to book tickets back for a flight from Jacksonville, according to KSL sports reporter Josh Furlong. He posted on Twitter that he saw the buses on his flight leave that airport on Sunday morning.
“Looks like they’re trying to get them home however they can,” he wrote.
The Utes, who started the season as No. 7 in the country, lost 29-26 to the unranked Gators after a drive deep into Florida territory ended in the closing seconds with quarterback Cam Rising throwing an interception into the end zone. .
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