Jeremy Foley did not mince his words on Thursday night. The SEC announced that Florida's game against LSU, which was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew, will now play on Nov. 19 and the Gators will no longer host it. UF will now head to Baton Rouge to play the Tigers. According to Foley, the conversation between the schools was very "difficult, as LSU was committed to its position, "and it was going to be difficult to change that position."
“LSU had drawn a line in the sand and was refusing to consider any other options presented," said Foley. "It was apparent that the only option that allowed this league to escape the greater hard reality to move forward with our season was a concession made by Florida.
“I’ve been in a lot of difficult conversations in this league on a lot of different subjects. Most of the time you get to a good place and it’s not as difficult as it may appear and this one was difficult," he added. "I think it’s a resolution that’s good for the Southeastern Conference."
This decision does mean that Florida will essentially lose two home games this season.
"Coach Mac [Jim McElwain] has been terrific because of the way he is and the competitor that he is. As he said, he'd play this game anytime, anywhere, so he'll deal with our football team and I think the impact of our football team will be minimized because of his leadership," he said. "The thing that bothers me the most is the economic impact of two games...That is the most difficult part of this conversation for us. It’s also a reality and we’re not insensitive to that, but there isn't a solution to that."
However, the Gators now gain another home game in 2017. Since Florida will need to travel to Baton Rouge this season, the Tigers will need to travel to Gainesville next season. UF's home slate not only includes LSU, but also Tennessee, Florida State and Texas A&M.
"I think it gives our fans an unbelievable schedule next year," said Foley.
The Gators were slammed by some for not playing the game against the Tigers last weekend with some around the LSU program claiming UF was dodging the match up. Foley says he was "surprised" by the rhetoric.
“ I understand how important football is to the Southeastern Conference in the south. You know, we had a category 4 hurricane heading this way. Could have been catastrophic to the state. It was difficult enough for so many people, and to think that we’re trying not to play a football game for any reason, it just doesn’t make any sense to me," said Foley.
"I never understood that rhetoric and I don’t think people understand that all of the, it’s not just an athletic director or athletic department making the decision on that football game. We had a lot of input from a lot of people. There are pros in this town who know more about this stuff than we do. We were taking advice from them and we were trying to help them. It’s a decision made by the campus, so I get it. But i think it’s evident that the University of Florida is not afraid to play anybody. I think this decision is indicative of that as we’re going to Baton Rouge."
In its earlier press release the SEC notes that the conference wanted to revise the policy "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." This is a change Foley welcomes.
"I mean obviously LSU and Florida did not see eye to eye on this situation, but I also understand the fact that they're dealing with situations, too," said Foley. "Unfortunately now that this situation has happened, there will be a lot of conversation of how to prevent this from happening again. I think the line of authority will be much clearer. I promise you this will be a huge issue on the athletic directors' agenda in December."
The game in November will be a true home game for LSU, so the Tigers will be able to host recruits and take in ticket and concession sales.