PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF: LSU Will Host Florida On Nov. 19, Per Report

So says The Baton Rouge Advocate’s Ross Dellenger

Florida has agreed to travel to Baton Rouge on Nov. 19 to make up a game between the Tigers and Gators that was washed out last week because of Hurricane Matthew, multiple sources told The Advocate.

Both programs will buy out of their non-conference games and meet in Baton Rouge instead of Gainesville, Florida. LSU was scheduled to play South Alabama and the Gators were set to host Presbyterian. It will cost the Tigers $1.5 million to buy out the Jaguars and will cost UF $500,000 to buy out of the game with USA.

Not everything is awesome, though. LSUSports.net has the SEC’s release on the new arrangement…

“It was important for us to come to a resolution. Each university had its own set of concerns throughout this process, however existing SEC regulations did not provide an avenue to resolve conflicting issues in a more timely manner,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “As I have repeatedly said, this game needed to be played. In the end, I want to give credit to the University of Florida for making concessions to move this year’s game to Baton Rouge.”

LSU has also agreed to play the 2017 in Gainesville, which was originally scheduled to be played in Baton Rouge. LSU will return to Gainesville in 2018 as the normal schedule rotation resumes.

The SEC Commissioner’s Regulations requires each football team play all eight Conference games in a season in order to be eligible to compete for a divisional title and play in the SEC Championship Game. Had the game not been rescheduled, Florida and LSU would have been ineligible to compete for the SEC title this season.

LSU was originally scheduled to play South Alabama on November 19 in Baton Rouge and Florida was slated to host Presbyterian on the same day in Gainesville. LSU and Florida will exercise cancellation clauses for those respective games.

“Lastly, I send thanks to Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson and his membership which worked in collaboration and a great spirit of cooperation in presenting options as we worked through this process,” Sankey said. “I also thank Presbyterian for its understanding of this situation.”

So LSU gives up the South Alabama game, which could be significant if this season plays out badly. In a 12-game schedule not interrupted by the cancellation of the game last weekend, LSU, currently at 3-2, would have been favored to beat Florida last weekend, plus they’d be favored to beat Southern Miss this weekend and South Alabama on Nov. 19. That would, if things played out as the oddsmakers expected, clinch six victories and bowl eligibility.

But now LSU is only going to play 11 games, without South Alabama being involved, and they’d have to beat Southern Miss, Florida and one of Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas or Texas A&M to become bowl eligible. Florida will be a home game, but the Gators would likely be less decimated by injuries than they were this past weekend – which many suspect is the reason Florida AD Jeremy Foley was so adamant about not changing the game time or venue before the league office panicked and cancelled it a week ago.

So it’s a tougher road to bowl eligibility, in the event LSU isn’t playing at a level commensurate with being able to beat Ole Miss, Bama, Arkansas or A&M. One would imagine they’d be further along than that, but it’s a concern until proven otherwise.

And there is the question of the future, in which LSU now has to play Florida on the road two years in a row when one imagines the Gators will have better teams than they do now.

But all that said, the fundamental concern for LSU was not to give up a home game in a year when so many businesses were damaged by the flooding which hit Baton Rouge in August, and in a situation where a road game on Nov. 19 would mean three SEC away contests in 12 days. That concern was satisfied by this solution, and athletic director Joe Alleva is to be credited for sticking to his guns and driving a satisfactory bargain with the league.

UPDATE: A couple of extra pieces to this.

One being that as of now LSU will have five SEC road games next year, in what looks like a fairly brutal schedule which begins at NRG Stadium against BYU. LSU will have to travel to Mississippi State, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and Tennessee in addition to the BYU game in Houston – that would make for the toughest schedule in the country, in all likelihood. Whether that would weigh in LSU’s ability to hire the head coach they want is unknown.

The other piece tells you Florida believes they lost this negotiation. A pair of quotes…

“We made this decision to play the game in Baton Rouge. “The conference office asked us to find a solution in working with LSU, yet LSU was never a true partner in our discussions.  The Southeastern Conference offered some other solutions and the LSU administration made it clear that they were unwilling to consider other reasonable options.”

That was Jeremy Foley, the same guy who wouldn’t entertain discussions of playing the game this past Sunday or Monday when the sun was shining in Gainesville. Poor him.

Another…

“As I’ve said all along – we will play anyone, anywhere, anytime. I think I’ve made that pretty clear. The Gators never run from anyone or dodge anyone.”

That’s Jim McElwain, the Gator head coach. One detects a whiff of defensiveness given the considerable sentiment around the South that Florida ducked the LSU game.

It sounds like this rivalry just got reheated. Nov. 19 will be fun.

UPDATE #2: At Outkick The Coverage, Clay Travis has constructed a timeline of sorts to give the inside story of how the game was cancelled and rescheduled. It’s worth a read.

UPDATE #3: There is grousing that apparently Florida got the concession from LSU that the game would not kick off any later than 2:30 central time.

This isn’t much of a concession. There are only three other SEC conference games scheduled for Nov. 19 – Ole Miss is at Vanderbilt, Missouri is at Tennessee and Arkansas is at Mississippi State. It’s possible one of those three would be selected by CBS as its game of the week rather than LSU-Florida, but let’s face it – that is quite unlikely. CBS would have grabbed the game no matter what LSU said. So you’re not losing anything letting Florida make that demand.

Interestingly, it also appears that since South Alabama and Presbyterian both were dropped in order to make the LSU-Florida game happen on the date they were scheduled to be the respective opponents, they’re getting together and Presbyterian will travel to Mobile on Nov. 19.

UPDATE #4: And Alleva’s statement on the arrangement…

“We are happy with the decision to have our game against Florida rescheduled for November 19 in Tiger Stadium. As previously reported, it was our wish to have played the game last weekend but all options that we put on the table were declined. After extensive discussion, the University of Florida agreed to play the 2016 contest in Baton Rouge and LSU agreed to play the 2017 game in Gainesville.

“I want to thank the Southeastern Conference, in particular Commissioner Greg Sankey, for his efforts to make sure that we found a place on the schedule to play the game. This is a game that our players and fans look forward to each year and we are appreciative of the lengths that our league office went to in order to make this game happen.

“Historically, we have always enjoyed a great relationship with Florida. We have great respect for their institution and their football program. I hope that we can all learn from this experience and as a league, be in a better position to deal with these situations in the future.”

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