LSU and Florida were scheduled to play this weekend until Hurricane Matthew decided to throw a wrench into those plans and complicate things.
The Category 3 hurricane is scheduled to arrive around the Gainesville area on Friday afternoon, but 48 hours ahead of game time no decision had been made by Florida or SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey on whether the game would be played as scheduled or moved.
According to LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva, the Tigers offered to play Florida on Sunday in Gainesville or either Saturday or Sunday in Baton Rouge.
“LSU made every attempt to try and play this game,” Alleva said at a late Thursday afternoon press conference he held with Orgeron. “We offered to go to Gainesville on Sunday, we offered to fly in there Sunday morning, play the game and fly back Sunday night. We offered the opportunity for them to come here Saturday or Sunday to play the game.
“We have to respect Florida’s concern about safety and travel. At the end of day, we’re very disappointed. We wanted to play the game. Our players wanted to play the game. I personally wanted to play the game.”
None of those options appeared to be good enough for Florida or the SEC office, and now they have forced their hand in waiting too long to make a decision and have decided to postpone the game.
According to Florida AD Jeremy Foley, “Nobody tried to drag this out.”
But they did.
LSU is no stranger to moving, postponing, or canceling games. In 2005 LSU’s home opener was postponed and their home game against Arizona State was moved from Baton Rouge to Tempe after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the state. The school also moved the next home game, in which they were scheduled to face Tennessee, from Saturday to Monday night because of Hurricane Rita.
LSU offered to host South Carolina last season after floods devastated the state. South Carolina agreed. South Carolina and Georgia also managed to move their game this week from Saturday to Sunday, making it even more evident that yes, someone did indeed drag their feet here.
While there is speculation that the Gators offered to reschedule the game for November 19th, which is a home game against Presbyterian, LSU has denied that any such option has been presented.
Even if the option had been presented, it would be difficult for LSU to agree to. The Tigers play South Alabama at home on November 19th and the cost of cancelling that game would be in the millions. The cost for Florida to cancel the Presbyterian game would be $500,000, but would more than likely be recouped by playing LSU.
Moving the Florida game to Nov. 19 would compound an already difficult schedule. The Tigers would play Florida in Gainesville after facing Ole Miss, Alabama, and Arkansas and before a Thanksgiving game with Texas A&M. Rescheduling Florida would mean five Top 20 games to close the season and three top 20 road trips in two and a half weeks.
Rescheduling makes no sense financially or physically for LSU and would be really unfair to South Alabama.
The Gators seemingly have a much easier schedule heading into November 19th. They face unranked Missouri, who LSU just put over 600 yards of offense on, unranked Georgia, no. 16 Arkansas, and unranked South Carolina.
Many are criticizing LSU for their decision to not immediately agree to a rumor and face the Gators on November 19th, but when thinking in terms of “best interest” for the schools, it makes no sense for LSU to give up home game revenue and then travel to Gainesville after facing three ranked opponents.
As Scott Van Pelt pointed out on SportsCenter on Thursday night, neither school should agree to an option that isn’t in their best interest. It’s clearly not in Florida’s best interest to travel to Baton Rouge to face the Tigers, Florida hasn’t beaten LSU in Tiger Stadium since 2009, and it’s clearly not in LSU’s best interest to give up a home game in November in the middle of a tough stretch of games and travel to Gainesville.
Still, Foley praised Sankey’s decision, “I commend Commissioner Sankey on this decision, not an easy one. Greg is as good as they come, I think he showed that here with his leadership in this decision.”
Of course, Foley would say that. If the game remains cancelled and Florida wins out, a 6-1 Florida team would win the SEC East over a 6-2 Tennessee.
Butch Jones, your thoughts?
No Butch they don’t and they more than likely won’t. If you’re looking for someone to blame, look no further than Greg Sankey.
In the grand scheme of things, a football game is meaningless compared to the safety of the residents of the state of Florida. Stay safe people, and if you’re told to evacuate, please do so. Your life isn’t worth risking so you can pretend to be Jim Cantore.