The decision to “postpone” Saturday’s LSU-Florida game was all right in itself. A killer hurricane named Matthew is bearing down on Florida. Imagine if they tried to play a game in Tiger Stadium a day or two after Katrina hit New Orleans, how foolhardy that would have been.
But the process of reaching that decision by the Southeastern Conference and Florida? All wrong. And now, LSU and possibly Orgeron’s candidacy to be the Tigers’ permanent head coach, will have to pay the price.
Don’t misunderstand. A football game compared to the devastation this storm will likely visit on Florida is comparatively inconsequential. Even when you consider LSU stands to lose millions if, as has been suggested, the school buys out South Alabama to play Florida on Nov. 19 (more on that later).
LSU's game against the Florida Gators scheduled for Saturday has been postponed, the school …
But as it pertains to the game, this is plain: The SEC and Florida backed themselves into a corner until late Thursday afternoon and there was no other option than not to play.
The game is called a postponement, but in reality odds are it will be stricken from the record. The teams have no compatible open dates. The prospect of playing Nov. 19 — with Florida buying out Presbyterian to open the date — seems unlikely.
Florida and Georgia have a common open date on Oct. 22, thus opening the Gators up to host LSU on Oct. 29. It’s a neat idea, but if Georgia is not willing to share the pain? Well, we’ve already seen what happens when an SEC school refuses to budge.
Ed Orgeron said telling his LSU players that the Florida game was off was “like daddy walked in on Christmas without any presents.”
There were presents. But consider outgoing Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley the Grinch.
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported Florida offered to play LSU on Nov. 19, but LSU refused. LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva stressed — twice — that alternative dates were never discussed.
Why would LSU agree to that without some compensation? LSU could stand to lose close to $5 million in revenue, owing USA $1.5 million and the $3 million it typically makes off a home game. And now LSU gets to look like the bad guy in all of this? Because, in part, LSU wouldn’t want to subject its team to this November death march: Alabama, at Arkansas, at Florida, at Texas A&M?
Not fair. Not fair at all.
No, LSU wanted to play this weekend, in Baton Rouge, in Gainesville or at a neutral site. LSU’s offers were rebuffed by Foley, who basically said the game would be in Gainesville or bust, and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey let him get away with stalling and delaying until it was too late to do anything but issue a postponement.
Sankey got played, and the game won’t be.
“My first conversation with Jeremy on this was on Tuesday,” Alleva said. “He felt very confident they could play the game. Then we had a conference call on Wednesday and they were very confident they could play the game. They thought they might have to make the time a little later. Then today it all fell apart.”
Asked if Sankey was OK with Florida saying the game wouldn’t be played outside Gainesville, Alleva replied: “The commissioner was on the conference calls when we had those conference calls. Those words were uttered and there was no argument about it.”
Alleva said a decision on the game was ultimately up to the SEC. That decision should have been made Wednesday, a day when Florida was still insisting the game would be played Saturday in Gainesville, at 11 a.m. CDT, no less. It was on Wednesday of game week last year that South Carolina decided to move its game to LSU. There was plenty of time to make a sensible decision while there was still time.
But that didn’t happen. And now there will be lots of repercussions.
First among them: the integrity of the SEC divisional races. Per SEC rules, if teams don’t play the same number of games, the team with the higher win percentage goes to the championship game. If the Florida game isn’t played, LSU could win out, finish 6-1 with a win over Alabama and lose out to Alabama for the SEC West title if it goes 7-1 in its SEC games (with a win over Auburn which already has an SEC loss but holds the tiebreaker on LSU). A similar scenario could play out in the SEC East with Florida, which lost to Tennessee, and the Volunteers.
Then there’s Orgeron. After the impressive debut as interim coach against Missouri last week, it’s generally believed if he can win enough games the LSU job may be his to keep. But how difficult is that going to be if LSU has to add Florida to an already stacked November schedule?
Maybe none of this will come to pass the way it looks right now. Maybe LSU and Florida will play in October or November.
But this we know: Saturday will be warm and sunny at Tiger Stadium, the silence will be deafening, and it won’t feel like Christmas morning in the slightest.
On this “No Repeat Thursday,” LSU football coaches threw out everything they learned and wen…