Florida plays at LSU Nov. 19, LSU returns 2017-18

In a one-sided compromise between the two schools, the Florida Gators and LSU Tigers will match up this year after all. Both teams will buy out the contracts they have with non-conference opponents on November 19 and instead play each other, but the game will be held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana instead of Gainesville, Florida where it was supposed to be played on October 8.

In an email sent from the SEC home office in Birmingham, Alabama, Commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed the decision and the SEC will also work to have a better process in determining what to do in case something like this happens.

Here is the statement from the SEC.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (October 13, 2016) – The LSU vs. Florida football game, postponed last Saturday due to Hurricane Matthew, has been rescheduled for Saturday, November 19, at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge under the terms of an agreement announced by SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. 

In addition, the Presidents and Chancellors have established the expectation for existing Conference policy to be revised to better define the process for completing postponed or interrupted contests and to grant authority to the Commissioner to determine the date and location of future games that may need to be rescheduled if the two involved institutions cannot mutually identify a date.

“It was important for us to come to a resolution.  Each university had its own set of concerns throughout this process, however existing SEC regulations did not provide an avenue to resolve conflicting issues in a more timely manner,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said.  “As I have repeatedly said, this game needed to be played.  In the end, I want to give credit to the University of Florida for making concessions to move this year’s game to Baton Rouge.”

LSU has also agreed to play the 2017 in Gainesville, which was originally scheduled to be played in Baton Rouge.  LSU will return to Gainesville in 2018 as the normal schedule rotation resumes.

The SEC Commissioner’s Regulations requires each football team play all eight Conference games in a season in order to be eligible to compete for a divisional title and play in the SEC Championship Game.  Had the game not been rescheduled, Florida and LSU would have been ineligible to compete for the SEC title this season.

LSU was originally scheduled to play South Alabama on November 19 in Baton Rouge and Florida was slated to host Presbyterian on the same day in Gainesville.  LSU and Florida will exercise cancellation clauses for those respective games.

“Lastly, I send thanks to Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson and his membership which worked in collaboration and a great spirit of cooperation in presenting options as we worked through this process,” Sankey said. “I also thank Presbyterian for their understanding of this situation.”

Sankey identified the University of Florida as the willing party to negotiate in the notice above on the issues and commended Jeremy Foley and his staff for doing so.

Foley signed off on the non-negotiation tactics of LSU AD Joe Alleva and the LSU program in general.

"We made this decision to play the game in Baton Rouge," said Foley. "The conference office asked us to find a solution in working with LSU, yet LSU was never a true partner in our discussions.  The Southeastern Conference offered some other solutions and the LSU administration made it clear that they were unwilling to consider other reasonable options."

Under SEC Commissioner Regulations, only teams that play all eight conference games would be eligible to play in Atlanta for the SEC Championship.

Therefore LSU was willing to give up the chance to play for an SEC title in order to not play the Gators in Gainesville.

"As I've said all along - we will play anyone, anywhere, anytime," said Head Coach Jim McElwain. "I think I've made that pretty clear. The Gators never run from anyone or dodge anyone."

"I also would like to thank Presbyterian for their cooperation during this process and allowing us to move ahead with a solution," Foley added.

The agreement now means that Florida will miss two home games on the season and one of those will be played on the road at LSU instead. Outside of 2014, when the Idaho game was cancelled due to lightning after getting in the opening kickoff, Florida has played no less than seven home games for well past a decade, this year they will have five.  

The Florida schedule resumes this weekend playing Missouri at home, then a bye week, then in Jacksonville on Oct. 29 vs. Georgia, at Arkansas on Nov. 5, at home vs. South Carolina Nov. 12, on the road at LSU Nov. 19, and then on the road at Florida State to end the season on Nov. 26. Not an easy undertaking, but one the Gators are willing to do to get this thing done.

Stay tuned as we have follow up commentary on this.

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