Danny Etling was so down about LSU’s unscheduled open date this past weekend that the Tigers quarterback couldn’t bring himself to watch college football.
Defensive back Dwayne Thomas watched some football Saturday but, feeling that itch, he ended up in the backyard playing throw and catch with his cousins.
Offensive lineman Garrett Brumfield and tight end Foster Moreau spent time with family and friends.
They were all supposed to be in Gainesville, Florida, playing the Gators.
“It’s just strange. It’s weird,” Moreau said Monday. “You don’t know what to do with your Saturday.”
Now, every entity involved in this "strange" situation — LSU, Florida and the Southeastern Conference — doesn't know what to do with the rescheduling of what could prove to be an important contest.
In an impromptu news conference Monday, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva reasserted his point that is will be “very difficult” to reschedule the game, which was postponed by the threat of Hurricane Matthew. LSU will not move a home game Nov. 19 against South Alabama to accommodate a potential makeup game in Gainesville, Alleva said, leaving potentially just one option: Dec. 3.
For that to happen, the SEC title game would have to be moved back a week to Dec. 10, potentially affecting the College Football Playoff and bowl announcements and conflicting with season-ending award ceremonies like the Heisman Trophy.
“It’s a very tough situation, very tough situation to reschedule this game,” Alleva said. “We’ll have to see how it shakes out down the road.”
About three hours after Alleva’s news conference, the SEC and Florida released statements, painting a divisive picture of the situation.
“The presidents and athletic directors agreed on Thursday that the schools and SEC Office would make every effort to find a scheduling solution to their postpone," commissioner Greg Sankey's statement read. "As I have said, we need to play the game and we need to have people come together to find a way to make that happen. We continue to work with the universities to play this game."
During Saturday’s game between Texas A&M and Tennessee, Southeastern Conference commissi…
Alleva said he spoke with Sankey over the weekend about their options. He mentioned just two dates Monday: Oct. 29 and Dec. 3. He ruled out Nov. 19, a Saturday when Florida and LSU play nonconference teams. (LSU hosts South Alabama, and Florida hosts Presbyterian.) The Gators are pushing LSU to buy out the game against USA and travel to Gainesville that weekend.
The Tigers would lose more than $4 million in that scenario —$1.5 million for the buyout and more than $3 million in home game revenue. Even if the SEC were to reimburse the school, a Baton Rouge community hit hard by widespread flooding in August would lose out on millions. The local area sees an economic boon of more than $10 million during LSU home game weekends, according to a 2014 study.
LSU also would play three straight SEC road games in that scenario.
"Three SEC road games in 12 days … uh …" Moreau said, trailing off. "You play a road game on Saturday and then you go to Texas A&M on that Thursday. It’s a lot of wear and tear on an athlete."
“One thing we’re going to hold very firm on is that we have a home game on November 19, and we’re going to have a home game on November 19," Alleva said forcefully. “We are going to have a home game on November 19. We are not going to change that situation. It’s the fact that our fans and this city deserve to have a home game that day. We’re not going to give up a home game.”
Put aside for a moment the process that led to Saturday’s LSU game at Florida being postpone…
Oct. 29 and Dec. 3 pose problems, too. LSU's normal open date before its game against Alabama is Oct. 29. Florida and Georgia are scheduled to play Oct. 29 in Jacksonville, Florida. That game would have to be moved up a week to Oct. 22. The Gators and Bulldogs share an open date then.
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity called moving the Georgia-Florida game "impractical" during an interview on the SEC Network on Monday. Alleva said he would only agree to play Oct. 29 if top-ranked Alabama, which shares an open date with LSU, plays that week. The two meet Nov. 5 in Tiger Stadium.
Moving the SEC title game to create a makeup date Dec. 3 seems like a stretch, too, but it’s what LSU President F. King Alexander wants the league to do, he told Tiger Rag Magazine on Sunday.
“I don’t know if that’s going to be an option because there’s TV contracts and (Georgia) Dome contracts,” Alleva said. “I’ll get back to what I said: It’s going to be very difficult to reschedule this game."
The LSU-Florida game could have a significant impact on the conference standings. Winning percentage — not total wins — determines which teams play in the SEC title game.
If LSU were to win out and finish 6-1 in the conference, the Tigers would not advance to the SEC title game over a 7-1 West Division team, even one they had beaten. If Florida finishes 6-1 in the conference and Tennessee is 6-2, the Gators advance to the title game as the East representative, despite losing to the Volunteers.
“You know what? If those scenarios play out, maybe there have to be other ways at looking at who the division champions are,” Alleva said. "Maybe you only look at division play."
The players just want to play. After all, it's Florida, LSU’s longstanding rival.
“Deep down, I feel like everyone does,” Brumfield said. “It’s out of our control. Within the bounds that we could be able to do it, I’m all for it.”
LSU (3-2), which entered the Amway coaches poll Monday at No. 25, hosts Southern Miss (4-2) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium.
“The way I look at it, it doesn’t matter,” center Ethan Pocic said. “Saturday is game time, and I really don’t think this upcoming Saturday matters if we play (Florida) or not.”