Emmert, along with LSU athletics director Skip Bertman, had announced Wednesday that the Southeastern Conference planned to play the games this weekend. But starting Thursday morning with the NFL's decision to cancel its Sunday schedule, the major conferences that had earlier chosen to play this weekend started to reverse their decisions.
When those decisions started affecting SEC opponents, the decision was made by chancellors, athletics directors and SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer to postpone Saturday's games.
"We were in conversations with SEC when there was been an opportunity to move the game from 8 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. to fit with ESPN's schedule," Emmert told WIBR program director Charles Hanagriff. "That was very attractive because it would allow us to move people into stadium in daylight hours and let people get home earlier. We were quite pleased with the opportunity and took advantage of it.
"But as the day progressed, we saw the cascading effect of other schools and conferences canceling games. That left some SEC schools without opponents."
The reversals started Thursday morning when the Western Athletic Conference deciding not to play its games. The Big 12, Mid-American and Mountain West Conferences all followed suit, leaving some SEC teams without opponents. Mississippi State was scheduled to host Brigham Young from the Mountain West, and Bowling Green of the MAC was supposed to play at South Carolina.
Kentucky and Indiana also had a change of heart and called off their game set for Bloomington, Ind. As of approximately 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon, every Division I-A game had been cancelled.
"When we made decision to play on Wednesday," explained Emmert, "we did so as a unit – sort of in a spirit of all for one, one for all – across the country. When they were only going to be about eight (SEC) institutions playing four games, we decided it didn't make sense to play. We had a conference call with the commissioner and concluded that we needed to postpone."
As to when the LSU-Auburn game and other contests scheduled for this weekend would be rescheduled, Emmert said various options are currently being explored. An alternative that has been mentioned frequently among the general public is moving the SEC Championship game, now scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1, back a week and making up this weekend's games in its place.
"We're exploring that one right now," Emmert said. "The easiest one right now would seem to be to back up the championship game and play the postponed games. But that presents some problems with the academic calender and the schedule at the Georgia Dome the week following the SEC Championship.
"It's our understanding that there are events scheduled at the Georgia Dome that following weekend, and the option of changing venues for the SEC Championship may be very, very difficult."
After Wednesday's announcement of the decision to play the games, Emmert and officials from the city of Baton Rouge gave details of additional security precautions that would be put into place at Tiger Stadium and on the LSU campus. Although the game has been postponed, Emmert says he expects many of those same precautions to be in place when LSU hosts its next home game, Oct. 6 vs. Florida.