It’s Friday morning and as predicted by forecasters, clearly Hurricane Matthew has caused wind and rain damage up the east coast of Florida. There will also be storm surge to contend with over the next 24 hours, flooding, power outage, along the coast, etc. Hundreds of thousands evacuated, and no one is minimizing the current fear and damage.
But, also as predicted, the storm has not come ashore doing more horrific damage to the state, so far.
Now onto college football.
And, as we learn more about the apparent bumbling of how outgoing Athletic Director Jeremy Foley and other University officials from Tuesday through Thursday afternoon’s decision to cancel Saturday’s game with LSU. we at F.F.I. are more and more dumbfounded.
Here is the late Thursday afternoon news conference where Foley recapped the previous two days almost blow by blow and the decision to not play the LSU-Florida game at all due to the threat of Hurricane Matthew. It was both confusing and contradictory:
— GatorVision (@GatorVisionTV) October 6, 2016
In that news conference, Foley correctly says that everyone’s safety and security is paramount. However, the confusing and contradictory part is that he and the University were adamant for two days to the SEC that the game could and would be played in Gainesville. And apparently, were unwilling to discuss or plan for any other contingency.
Foley’s own words were “we were only going to play this game in Gainesville.” How did the SEC on Wednesday and relatively new commissioner Greg Sankey, not step in and make a contingency plan?
Like, for example use Tampa 90 miles to the southwest and Raymond James Stadium, which was being inquired about for the movement of the FSU-Miami ACC game. Or, even telling both schools Wednesday to head to neutral site like Atlanta or Birmingham, or somewhere, to be ready to play Saturday or Sunday?
The league could have easily told LSU Tuesday night or Wednesday morning to send their equipment 18 wheeler towards Gainesville as planned and wait for updates along the way. And then, told the Tigers to “stand by” on flying their charter to Gainesville, Tampa or the neutral site on the day of the game.
This would have bought time and is exactly what the SEC and then commissioner, Mike Slive, did with the LSU game with Tennessee in 2005. Due to Hurricane Rita that September weekend, the conference told Tennessee to wait for constant updates and the Vols ended up coming in on Monday to Baton Rouge and playing a Monday night game.
And worse, if Foley and the Gators believed in their discussions of the last two days that LSU would somehow be cooperative and agree to a make-up date, that isn’t happening. And it could have an effect on the SEC East race eventually, too. The scenario exists that Tennessee could finish 6-2 in the East, Florida finishes 6-1 now and wins the division/goes to Atlanta.
The leverage that Florida and conference had was to force LSU to come somewhere safe to play this weekend while there was time to do so, or else. And it didn’t happen.
Twice in that presser Thursday, Foley quoted the cliche’ (that he says he and his staff operate by) “Hope for the best, but expect the worst.”
But clearly, by his own words, Foley was only hoping that Hurricane Mathew would not come close enough to North Florida and when the forecast didn’t change, they had no other plan.
So, they “threw their hands up” on Thursday afternoon and now LSU and Florida likely do not play at all in what could be a very significant game later in the standings for both.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.
The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.
With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.
As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.
Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.
It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.
Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.
The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of former DB C.J. Henderson.
Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.
Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?
Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.
The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.
Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.
Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.