Chafeness: Florida-LSU postponed
Published on Thursday, 10/6/16, at 4:55 p.m. Eastern.
UPDATE: According to Kyle Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com, the SEC replied to his question about who wins the East if Florida goes 6-1 in SEC play and Tennessee goes 6-2 and the UF-LSU game isn’t played. The reply basically stated that “the best winning percentage” would determine the division champ. In that scenario, the Gators would return to Atlanta for a second straight season. However, you can bet your ass that the SEC will make arrangements to avoid that situation.
The Florida-LSU game at The Swamp has been postponed. With Hurricane Matthew poised to devastate the East coast of Florida, the annual showdown was postponed by the SEC at around 4:00 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.
“We had a very productive phone call today with a great spirit of cooperation between the universities’ presidents and athletics directors and it became clear that the University of Florida could neither host nor travel to a game this weekend considering the circumstances,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. “The developments of the hurricane in the last 24 hours, the projected magnitude of its impact and the unknown aftermath of this storm have resulted in this decision to seek another date to play the LSU-Florida game. We have to be sensitive to the possible imminent disruption to the state of Florida and in particular the Gainesville and surrounding area.”
Florida AD Jeremy Foley met with the media in Gainesville at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. When asked about potential dates to re-schedule the game, Foley said, “We told the league we’re 100 percent committed to whatever scenario they can come up with.”
UF’s open date is Oct. 22 ahead of its game vs. Georgia in Jacksonville. Meanwhile, LSU’s bye week is Oct. 29.
One potential scenario for the game to be played is Nov. 19 when LSU is scheduled to host South Alabama and UF is set to take on Presbyterian in Gainesville.
Those school could be paid off and the game could be played then, but that scenario won’t sit well with LSU. It would mean the Tigers would have to end the regular season with three consecutive road games — at Arkansas, at Florida and at Texas A&M.
Making matters worse, LSU’s game against the Aggies in College Station is a Thursday game. If the SEC makes this happen, I would assume it would insist that Texas A&M move the game to at least Friday, if not Saturday, but television contracts could hinder this possibility.
The Gators are 2-1 in SEC play with league games remaining vs. Missouri, vs. UGA, at Arkansas and vs. South Carolina. Tennessee owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Florida so even if UF wins out, UT would have to lose twice for Jim McElwain’s team to repeat as SEC East champs. UF will be favored heavily against Mizzou and USC, while games vs. UGA and at Arkansas will have tight spread.
As for Tennessee, it is going to be an underdog Saturday at Texas A&M and at home next week vs. Alabama. Therefore, we should know in nine days — if the Vols lose back-to-back contests — how important the LSU at Florida game being played will be in terms of the SEC East race.
LSU is also 2-1 in SEC play, but the teams ahead of it in the SEC West standings remain on its schedule so the Tigers control their own destiny to get to Atlanta.
Much has been made about LSU offering to host the game this week, but it needed to know by Wednesday night if it was going to do so. Florida never considered this possibility for a variety of reasons, all of which are obvious. Nearly every player and coach on the team has family within the state, so the notion of getting on a plane to go play a game while one of the most vicious storms ever is pounding the state was ludicrous.
Sure, South Carolina agreed to go to LSU after flooding hit the Columbia area last year, but the Gamecocks were never going to be factor in the SEC East race last season. And after Hurricane Katrina, LSU went to Arizona St. and won its first game with Les Miles on the sidelines in come-from-behind fashion. But that was a non-conference game and it was important for LSU to play to give its fans an outlet for a few hours to think about something besides the catastrophe that had just occurred.
I find it absurd that some think Florida should’ve just decided to give up a home game and go play at Tiger Stadium.
Many, including guests on The Paul Finebaum Show like Pat Dooley and Ross Dellenger, have suggested this game won’t be made up. Trust me, though, if a spot in the SEC Championship Game will be at stake, Sankey will find a way to make this game happen. And it’ll take place at The Swamp in Gainesville.
The last time UF had to cancel an SEC game at home was vs. Tennessee on the Saturday following 9/11. If the game had been played, the Vols would’ve been without future NFL players John Henderson and Donte Stallworth. When the game was made up one week after the regular-season finale, Henderson was all up in Rex Grossman’s face the entire game and helped UT to a 34-32 win as an 18.5-point underdog.
If Florida-LSU had been played this weekend, Tigers’ star RB Leonard Fournette wouldn’t have played, nor would a pair of starters on the o-line. Meanwhile, UF would’ve been missing starting DE Jordan Sherit and starting DT Joey Ivie. Also, starting QB Luke Del Rio would’ve been playing for the first time since spraining his MCL three weeks ago.
UF-LSU was scheduled to be on ESPN at noon Eastern, but now Auburn at Mississippi St. will be on ESPN instead of The SEC Network.
There still remains a possibility that Georgia at South Carolina will be postponed as well.