The sun has risen on Day Two of the intense discussions between Florida and LSU, and the two sides appear to be at an impasse. As we all know by now, the 2016 edition of the Florida-LSU rivalry has been “indefinitely postponed,” which if neither side is willing to compromise, could quickly turn into “canceled.”
Per a source, Florida offered LSU to come play in Gainesville on November 19. Both schools have scheduled cupcake opponents on that day, but Florida would be willing to buy out theirs (Presbyterian) and even help LSU buy out theirs (South Alabama) if the SEC’s insurance won’t cover it.
But LSU said no, citing the understandable explanation that this would mean playing three consecutive road games in 20 days, as they play at Texas A&M on November 24. And while LSU won’t say this, they have every right to not want to lose a home game, with all the revenue it brings in- even though Florida would be losing one as well.
LSU, for their part, offered to host the game in Baton Rouge on either Sunday or Monday. Jeremy Foley probably laughed at that unexpected bit of comedic relief before telling them no way in hell the Gators would agree to that. No way Florida would be willing to play at a rival school they play annually in a year in which they were scheduled to host, not unless LSU would be willing to come back in either 2017 or 2019 to make up for it (depending on if they could shift their already set 2017 schedules). Yes, South Carolina did this last year, but South Carolina doesn’t have a millionth of the prestige Florida does, and Florida playing a “home game” in a rival’s stadium is not the same thing as South Carolina doing it.
So really, after a full day of negotiations, we’ve learned one thing, and that is that Florida will not budge in terms of location. LSU can kiss their dreams of being gifted an extra home game goodbye. Options were thrown out left and right, but none were really pursued too far before being rejected.
Now obviously, the safety of the players and their families is number one on the priority list. That goes without saying.
But once that’s all taken care of- once everybody is marked safe- in the name of all things holy, this game has got to be rescheduled. I wait nine months out of the year for twelve regular season football games, and to be told “nah, just kidding, you only get eleven” is abominable. And yet that pales in comparison to the players’ perspective. They were recruited to Florida to play in big games like this, not to not play in them and take advantage of playing one less game in a divisional race.
Put simply, it would be absolutely disgraceful if the Gators never play LSU this year, and that’s largely on LSU’s shoulders too, because they owe Florida the trip to the Swamp.
So here’s my proposal: push back the SEC Championship Game one week, and play this game in Gainesville the same week it would normally be played. The inconveniences are minor: Army-Navy would probably get kicked from its yearly CBS slot to make way for the SEC Championship, and the Heisman ceremony would have to be pushed back a day or two if any of the finalists play in that SEC Title Game. But this way, both teams get to keep their home games (and thus, revenue) on November 19, Florida plays this game in Gainesville the way it wants to and they’d have plenty of time to re-sell tickets in order to ensure a packed house.
Or here’s another idea: play this game on November 19th, at Florida, as was proposed earlier. But then in addition, both teams can reschedule their cupcake teams for the day of the SEC Championship Game. If Florida and/or LSU makes the SEC Championship Game, they then cancel the home game against the cupcake and play in the SEC Title Game. That’s a win-win as well: both teams are guaranteed to either get that home game or play in the SEC Championship.
Is what I’ve proposed perfect? No. But it sure beats watching both schools sit back and bitch at each other about micro-details, and it’s only fair to the rest of the SEC to have all its teams play the same number of games. If anybody else has a better solution, please, by all means, share it with the SEC so Florida and LSU brass can stop caterwauling already.
At the end of the day, somebody’s going to have to sacrifice something. And ultimately, I don’t care who it is. Just play the game.
Florida, LSU and the SEC- you all know what the right thing to do is. Do the right thing.