Joe Alleva tried to play nice with Florida and the Southeastern Conference when it came to rescheduling LSU’s road game Saturday against the Gators with Hurricane Matthew bearing down on Gainesville. All it got LSU’s athletic director and his school was a series of pushed-back promises and a vague postponement of said game to somewhere down the road.
By Monday, a day when LSU and Florida could have tried to play but didn’t because Florida and the SEC didn’t come up with a workable solution, Alleva had had enough of it.
With the season half-over and options short, he drew a line in Florida’s famous white sand somewhere near Destin or Panama City. Alleva said the most talked about option — to have LSU go to Florida on Nov. 19 after buying out its home game with South Alabama while Florida does the same with its home game against Presbyterian — won’t happen.
“One thing that we're going to hold very firm on is that we have a home game November 19,” Alleva said as he spoke to reporters assembled Monday for interim coach Ed Orgeron’s weekly media luncheon.
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Just to make sure everyone understood him, Alleva repeated himself: “We're going to have a home game on November 19.”
And once more, just in case the folks in Gainesville and Birmingham weren’t paying attention the first two times.
“We are going to have a home game on November 19,” Alleva said, firm conviction in his voice. “We are not going change that situation.”
And, for good measure, Alleva said if LSU is going to have to play someone on its Oct. 29 open date, he wants Alabama (which is also idle before visiting Tiger Stadium the following week) to have to play someone, too.
Anything else while you’re at it, Joe? Would you like the letter “Q” stricken from the alphabet? No? OK.
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It’s worth noting that Alleva stopped short of saying LSU will play South Alabama at home Nov. 19, though South Alabama athletic director Joel Erdmann told AL.com on Monday that no one has contacted him about canceling or moving the Jaguars’ first-ever trip to Tiger Stadium. It is possible, though highly unlikely, that Florida could come calling on that date and LSU and/or the SEC and Florida pay South Alabama $1.5 million not to play.
If Florida was unwilling to move the game to Baton Rouge last weekend, why would the Gators give up a home game in November? Without rearranging the chess pieces of numerous games — such as Florida’s Oct. 22 game with Georgia in Jacksonville, also apparently a non-starter — then the only other relatively simple option would be to let LSU and Florida play Dec. 3 and move the SEC Championship Game back a week. Still, that means, for starters, pushing back the CFP and bowl announcements and doing something with the Georgia state football finals set for Dec. 9-10 at the Georgia Dome.
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“What I said the the other day about this being very difficult to reschedule is still true,” Alleva said. “I think it’s very difficult.”
The time for the best solution has passed: Have LSU go to Florida and play Sunday or Monday, as long as Matthew didn’t deliver a punishing blow to Gainesville, which fortunately it did not. Alleva went so far as to offer to have the Tigers fly in Sunday, play the game and fly home that night.
Crickets. It seemed to be Saturday or bust for Florida, so with Matthew raking Florida’s Atlantic coast on Thursday, the game was called off.
An understandable decision in some respects, but it’s also understandable that LSU doesn’t want to lose a home game. A home game that would by one estimate cost LSU more than $4 million (game revenue and South Alabama’s guarantee). A home game worth an estimated $15 million to the local economy.
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LSU shouldn’t have to shoulder such a loss, though theoretically it could be reimbursed. Neither should Baton Rouge, especially after in August it suffered through a flood that was the nation’s costliest disaster since Superstorm Sandy.
Meanwhile, Greg Sankey’s tenure as SEC commissioner is threatening to go up in smoke like a Samsung Galaxy Note 7. First, he lets himself have terms dictated to him by Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley. Now, he has an open rebellion on his hands with LSU and Alleva, an uprising that by SEC bylaws he is powerless to suppress.
According to SEC rules, the commissioner can cancel or postpone a game. But once it is postponed, he needs the cooperation of both schools to get it played.
Alleva is willing to cooperate. On his terms.
LSU didn’t cause this problem, and apparently its athletic director isn’t going to agree to what he views as an inequitable solution.