LSU and Florida won't play football at noon Saturday in Gainesville, as they'd planned to do. With Hurricane Matthew approaching much of the Southeast, the SEC announced Thursday their game was postponed, with hopes of rescheduling it for sometime later in the season. This is difficult, though, and the outcome affects a handful of parties.
This has been a scheduled home game for Florida, but Matthew made it impractical to play at UF on Saturday. A source confirmed to SB Nation that LSU offered to hold the game in Baton Rouge, but Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said at a press conference Thursday that his program decided earlier in the day that wouldn't be possible.
Foley suggested it wasn't practical for Florida to move an entire football team to Louisiana on a day and a half's notice. He noted that Florida players and staff have families who are bracing for the hurricane.
"At the end of the day it boils down to, ‘What are we trying to do here?'" he said.
Foley also said the teams and the league didn't discuss alternate options beyond Gainesville and LSU. A source told SB Nation that LSU proposed New Orleans, Mobile and Nashville as potential sites, however.
Right now, it's not looking good.
LSU AD Joe Alleva says on ESPN 104.5 in Baton Rouge: "The (UF) game is not going to happen at this point"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) October 7, 2016
To reschedule, LSU and Florida might need to get out of other games.
The teams don't share a bye week for the rest of the year. They do, however, both have non-conference home games on the schedule for Saturday, Nov. 19: LSU against South Alabama, Florida against Presbyterian.
We haven't yet gotten a look at the game contracts for those dates, but it stands to reason that the SEC, Florida and LSU could come up with a way to simply not play those games and pay contractually obligated sums to Presbyterian and South Alabama. Foley said Florida's buyout for the Presbyterian game would be a bit less than $500,000, while LSU would have to pay more than that, coming to something around a $2 million total cost.
According to the game contract, the price for #LSU to cancel the game against South Alabama:— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) October 6, 2016
Foley wasn't publicly specific on what options Florida might pursue, instead saying the university would follow the SEC's lead and be "100 percent committed to whatever scenario they can come up with."
A source told SB Nation that Florida already proposed to LSU a buyout of both Nov. 19 games and a Gators-Tigers rescheduling that day in Gainesville, but LSU turned that offer down. Foley still sounded highly open to taking that route when he talked with the media.
LSU AD Joe Alleva said he hadn't talked about rescheduling with anyone.
The Nov. 19 option would be more expensive for LSU, of course, and Alleva sounded less-than-thrilled about the idea of losing a scheduled home game.
Alleva on making up game: "There's really not a lot of opportunities. It would be very difficult to give up a home game." #LSU— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) October 6, 2016
"We wanna play a football game," Foley said in his presser. "This is not about not wanting to play the football game, as you all know."
As Alleva tells it, LSU worked hard to make the game happen this weekend.
Alleva: "All I could do was offer opportunities and plead and beg to make it happen." #LSU— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) October 6, 2016
If Nov. 19 doesn't happen, SEC could opt to move around some other games to find a spot for this one before its championship game on Dec. 3. That's what it did for a delayed Tennessee-Florida game in 2001.
The College Football Playoff expressed openness last year to waiting on Navy when the unbeaten Midshipmen were pressing toward the top of the rankings. This year's field is set to lock in on Dec. 4, a day after the scheduled SEC title game.
The rest of the SEC will have reason to be angry if there's no makeup.
The lack of a rescheduled game could result in Florida, for instance, finishing with a 6-1 SEC record. Now imagine Tennessee, which beat Florida, finishing 6-2 and losing out on a trip to Atlanta while Florida plays seven league games. And if the game isn't rescheduled, that's a possible outcome.
Here's the SEC response to my inquiry about scenarios if LSU-UF isn't made up. So 6-1 UF would go to ATL over 6-2 UT. pic.twitter.com/n4qvQin2hW— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_AJC) October 6, 2016
You can be sure teams are paying attention.
"I think we'd have a problem if that game caused an issue with either division champion," an SEC head coach told SB Nation.