Hurricane Matthew has inflicted death and destruction to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and is now poised to strike the Southeast coast of the United States. To be sure, disruption of football schedules ranks very, very low on the list of harm from this weather.
But college football is being affected by the hurricane. The LSU-Florida football game scheduled for Saturday in Gainesville has been postponed due to Hurricane Matthew, it was announced Thursday. The announcement from the Southeastern Conference said that the universities and the SEC Office will work to reschedule the game later in the season.
The governor of South Carolina has said that she doesn’t think that the University of South Carolina will be able to host Georgia for that scheduled game Saturday evening.
Florida decided that it “could neither host nor travel to a game this weekend,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. Before deciding to postpone the game, the schools and SEC explored other date and location options, and LSU offered to either travel or host the game over the course of the weekend. Ultimately it was determined that the likelihood of damage from the storm, lack of available emergency personnel and the uncertainty of the impact of the storm on people, facilities and travel necessitated a postponement.
Last year, extensive flooding in Columbia, S.C., due to Hurricane Joaquin resulted in LSU hosting South Carolina rather than postponing the game. In 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, LSU’s scheduled home game against Arizona State was moved to Tempe. Tulane played only one home game in New Orleans that year.
The first thing one checks in this situation is a common open date where the game could be made up. That is not available either to Florida and LSU or Georgia and South Carolina. Florida plays Georgia on LSU’s open date and LSU plays Ole Miss on Florida’s open date. Georgia plays Vandy on South Carolina’s open date, and South Carolina plays UMass on Georgia’s open date.
Part of the SEC announcement on the LSU-Florida situation said, “[T]he schools and the SEC Office will make every effort to find a scheduling solution with the possible movement of other games on the schools’ schedules.”
One possibility likely to be considered is that horrible next-to-last weekend of SEC teams playing cupcakes. It would take some cash to buy out the games and teams would lose the revenue of a game, but the best solution may be that on Nov. 19 we have LSU at Florida instead of South Alabama at LSU and Presbyterian at Florida; and we have Georgia at South Carolina instead of Louisiana-Lafayette at Georgia and Western Carolina at South Carolina.