As I sit here typing and wondering if my power will go out yet again before I finish, I am still really perplexed at the hard line stance of the LSU media with regard to the handling of the game between the Tigers and Gators that was scheduled for Saturday at noon.
Understandably, none of that matters now.
What matters most is the safety and welfare of those people that have been affected or will still be affected by Hurricane Matthew. Hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States will change because of this storm, many in drastic ways. Five have died in the state alone and the storm is responsible for over 800 deaths through the island nations of the Caribbean.
This storm will have ramifications for decades for many people and that is where most of our thoughts are centered.
But for those interested in seeing the Tigers and Gators square off, it is still a very big subject.
Most agree that the game needs to be played. There aren’t a lot of options, but there seems to be one best option available for both teams.
Florida hosts non-conference Presbyterian on November 19, and LSU hosts non-conference foe South Alabama the same weekend. Both teams could be bought out of the scheduled contests allowing Florida and LSU to play each other.
The Southeastern has insurance and contingency plans to cover issues in scheduling and so the money slotted for those teams would likely be covered.
One thing that is very clear is that Florida and Athletic Director Jeremy Foley would LOVE to make the game possible on that November 19 weekend. Money be damned, let’s get this to happen.
“That buyout I think is less than half a million dollars,” Foley said of the Presbyterian game Thursday as he spoke to the media regarding the cancellation of this weekend’s contest. “There’s insurance, scenarios, and TV, all those types of things. That’s why it will be handled within the league. The money is not an issue. Can it be worked out? Those are conversations that need to be held with the Southeastern Conference. If it can’t be worked out, we will be thrilled and excited to play that football game. I know the fans will be too.”
LSU AD Joe Alleva has taken a much different stance. Supposedly willing to go above and beyond to try and play the game this weekend in Gainesville or in Baton Rouge, both of which Foley clearly showed was inconceivable in his presser on Thursday, Alleva has been pretty staunch in saying that the game is going to be very difficult to make happen.
After saying that he was never asked about the date before his own press conference on Thursday, Alleva reiterated that again on Friday before addressing the date after a night to at least think about it.
"No, I think it's going to be very difficult,” Alleva said about making the game up Friday morning on a morning radio show on 104.5 FM in Baton Rouge. “The scenarios down the road would require some serious changes in schedule."
Serious is relative right Joe? I mean serious like a Category-4 Hurricane or serious as in losing a game with South Alabama?
To be fair to the argument, money is an issue at some point. LSU dropping the home game with South Alabama would mean lost concessions and game day revenue generated by a home game that weekend. Right now Florida is the big loser there with the lost weekend this weekend in terms of that revenue. That can’t be made up.
While we are talking about losses in the millions here, that should be the biggest issue.
There is at least one other, as in the SEC race and the way the schedule was set up for LSU. Their November docket isn’t one for the weak. After a bye week at the end of this month, LSU hosts number one Alabama on Nov.5, heads to Arkansas on Nov. 12, hosts South Alabama on Nov. 19, and then a Thanksgiving Day Thursday match up at Texas A&M.
It is one thing to play South Alabama at home and then turn around five days later and go on the road in the SEC for a Thursday night contest. It is another thing altogether to travel to Florida and then have to travel five days later to play another divisional foe to end the season.
I think one consideration that could be made is for the game to be Friday night November 18, that would give another day in between that contest and the season ending game with Texas A&M.
I am betting Florida will do what they have to in order to play that game.
As I said on Thursday, the ball is in LSU’s court. It really comes down to whether or not LSU is willing to take on Florida or would rather take the automatic win over South Alabama.
We know that Alleva really isn’t in favor of the series with the Gators. In 2014 he was very outspoken about playing the Gators along with another SEC East opponent that creates an unfair advantage for other teams in the Western Division that don’t have to play the same level of competition.
“I am very disappointed that the leaders of the SEC disregard the competitive advantage that permanent partners award to certain schools. It is definitely an advantage that should not exist in such a great league,” Alleva told theadvocate.com back in June of 2014.
“We share all the revenue and expenses yet we cannot have a balanced, fair, equitable schedule,” he continued. “LSU has played Florida and Georgia 19 times since 2000, and Bama has played them eight times. Is that fair?”
It appears Alleva may get his wish, if that is what he really wants. He can make this game happen, and yet it seems he is going to kick and scream to make it not happen. Florida had a natural disaster for an excuse this weekend; his is about money and having a tougher schedule.
Will pressure come from the SEC? The winner of each division is based on best record and that best record is decided on winning percentage. It is conceivable that a 6-1 SEC conference record could plant the Gators in the SEC Championship if Tennessee finishes 6-2, even with the Vols beating the Gators a couple of weeks ago.
The conference won’t want to settle the divisional representatives like this.
Any kind of change will have to be made quickly. We are six weeks away. The two non-conference opponents would have to be taken care of, which shouldn’t be too difficult. They could actually play each other on the November 19, with one now having a home game. Monetary issues would have to be worked out with insurance and what not.
Maybe they make a change to Friday night to help accommodate LSU for their Thursday night game a week later. That seems like more than a fair thing to do.
Whatever the case, Alleva and the Tigers will have to decide do they want to play Florida or South Alabama.