It’s been a rough weekend of p.r. for the SEC office after not taking charge of the Florida-LSU game last week with Hurricane Matthew threatening the East coast of Florida. It was compounded by essentially allowing the Gators to dictate/decide that it wouldn’t be played in Gainesville or anywhere else, on Thursday afternoon.
We wrote Friday morning that it “dumbfounded” us on how we got to the conference potentially having to cancel a game for the first time in history. And no, this is not just Vandy hosting Kentucky. It’s two of the prominent football programs in league history, who year in and year out for the last 15-20 years have been contenders for the SEC title and even National Championships.
So, what to do now?
First, here was commissioner Greg Sankey doing a live phone interview with CBS announcers Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson (who asked all but one of the questions) during the broadcast of the Tennessee-Texas A & M game Saturday:
— FL Football Insiders (@Real_FFI) October 8, 2016
The gist of that interview was that the SEC was rightly concerned about safety because of the Hurricane, the Gators (and A.D. Jeremy Foley) were insisting the game couldn’t be played (yet Thursday was way to soon to make a final decision on that) and more importantly, they have to try to solve it now.
In the last part of the interview, Danielson put Sankey on the spot about ultimately having the authority to make the decision and tell LSU and Florida what to do and when. Sankey responded with, “we have to come together as a family on this.”
Good luck with that part. And instead it may come down to Sankey and the SEC being “the parent” who says, “because I say so.”
Here are the educated guesses/options, if the game can be made up:
That would create the chance for Florida and LSU to meet Saturday 10/29 on LSU’s off week.
Chad does an excellent job and has great insight into the logistical nightmare that it would first cause with the primary tenant at Everbank Field, the Jaguars. And how their home game the previous week being only six days before the proposed moving up of Gators vs. Dawgs is a big problem.
Next, Dennis Dodd of CBSsports.com, who is a very plugged in national college sports writer, has a couple of SEC sources talking to him and wrote this on Sunday about making the game up.
Putting aside his over the top theme of “how could you think of playing a game when a Hurricane was passing by on the Atlantic Coast of Florida?!” (by the way, that’s just what the ACC, and Miami waited for and played their game Saturday night), he does bring up two more possibilities.
One, as has been discussed on the internet and the radio for five days now, the SEC tells LSU and Florida that they are dropping their “buy” home games on 11/19 against South Alabama and Presbyterian, respectively. Then, they play each other in Gainesville for the make up on that day. The SEC would obviously have to reimburse everybody for that. Not a small price tag.
Clearly, (and has also been well discussed) LSU will complain about having to play Alabama, Florida and then on Thanksgiving night, Texas A & M, all on the road. And as Dodd writes, the SEC could move the Thanksgiving game to Saturday to give LSU two more days of rest and recovery. The Gators would also complain that they don’t want a dogfight game against a tough opponent before they finish with bitter rival Florida State the next week.
Again, good luck with all of that.
Dodd, also wrote a quick sentence about one source theorizing about moving the SEC Championship game back one week to potentially play LSU-Florida, if needed on Saturday 12/3. He used the two words, “extreme measure.”
We will write two words in response, “Not Happening.”
So we wait for it to sort out, but don’t be surprised if the game is not made up for all the reasons above, and then some.
Whatever happens, it won’t be dull or uninteresting the next few weeks.
The bottom line is this: it’s undeniable that the game could have been played safely Saturday, Sunday, or even tonight in Gainesville, Tampa, or even, Orlando.
And now, you have what you have, because the SEC didn’t wait until Friday, etc. to help them get it figured out.