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Options for LSU and Florida

There are multiple options on the table for making up the Florida game. What are they and what are some pitfalls?

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Kentucky vs Texas A&M Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the Saturday has passed and there was no LSU football this weekend. Much to the chagrin of pretty much every LSU fan you’d speak to, players from Florida and LSU, increasingly the national media and coaches from other SEC schools. The last two are probably why there’s been an increased push to make sure this game gets rescheduled. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said both sides need to come together in group faith “as a family” to make sure the game gets played.

If the side from Gainesville had done that this week we wouldn’t be in this mess. Nevertheless, there seem to be three options on the table for this game getting replayed. Here they are and here are the issues with them.

October 29

This is the date of the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville, and LSU’s original bye week.. The plan here would see Florida and Georgia, who share a common bye week Oct. 22, move their game up one week, so that Florida and LSU would play on 10/29 instead.

Personally, I think this might be the best option for everyone.

The bye week before the Bama game hasn’t helped LSU at all. Florida basically had a bye this week and Georgia would end up getting their bye a week later. But this involves more than just LSU and Florida — Georgia would have to agree to the move as well. Plus, the Jacksonville Jaguars are at home on October 23, which would mean there’d be two games at EverBank Field in two days. People have also made reservations for hotels and all that for the weekend of 10/29 in Jacksonville. How that would work out if the game is moved up is anyone’s guess.

And again, Georgia has to be accommodating in helping one of their biggest rivals solve a problem that has nothing to do with the Bulldogs.

November 19

The option every LSU fan hates. And the one for which any discussion on our end begins something like this...

This option would see Florida cancelling a game against Presbyterian and LSU cancelling their game against South Alabama. That’s probably no real problem for Florida, they’d pay Presbyterian the reported $500,000 buyout and still have a home game that week. But LSU’s buyout for South Alabama is reported at $1.5 million, and they would lose money from a home game, something that comes out to anywhere from $5-8 million. To say nothing of the huge impact the Baton Rouge economy gets from a home game as well.

So right out of the chute, you’re talking about an issue that involves two more schools and represents a major hardship for one of the principal programs involved. And there’s still an on-the-field issue: playing that week would force LSU to finish its season with three road games in the span of 13 days. At Arkansas on Nov. 12, at Florida the 19th, and then at Texas A&M for the Thanksgiving game on Nov. 24, just five days later.

Not only is that a stretch that no other team would ever willingly to agree to, but it’s a legitimate player safety question for the Tigers given the time frame. Yes, Florida plays Florida State the next weekend, but their final three games would feature South Carolina at home, LSU and a trip to FSU over a full three weeks. Not 13 days.

This isn’t a good option for anyone except Florida, but it’s probably the one the SEC is going to push. LSU will reject it unless the following demands are met:

  • Payment of the South Alabama buyout;
  • Moving the Texas A&M game from the 24th to the following Saturday, Nov. 26th — a move that both the Aggies and ESPN would have to agree to; and
  • Either additional payout to LSU for the lost home-game revenue, or the game moved to Baton Rouge outright.

Why should LSU have to suffer any financial inconvenience here? Florida’s been paid for the home game they’ve already lost from their insurance, and LSU was more than willing to do whatever it took to make this game happen THIS weekend.

For what it’s worth, this option would also likely appeal to CBS, as the only other conference matchups of significance on Nov. 19 are Tennessee-Missouri and Arkansas-Mississippi State.

December 3rd

Here’s an option some LSU fans have suggested as the best from their perspective. In this scenario, the game would take place the current weekend of the SEC Championship Game, with the actual game pushed back a week to Dec. 10. The Atlanta Falcons are on the road that week, but Georgia High School Football Championships apparently occur on that weekend. It would be after every regular season game has been played, and after the Dec. 4 date that the College Football Playoffs and bowl selections are announced.

Although if the SEC title game has a significant impact on those selections, that would give the league leverage in working with those partners. And of course, if neither team is in contention for the SEC Championship Game by that point, there’d possibly be no point to play the game.

However, there are some issues here too: CBS has the SEC Championship Game rights, but on Dec, 10th they also have the Army-Navy game. So that would require some re-configuring of the start times. You’d have to move up the Army-Navy game, which they wouldn’t be happy about, play the SEC Championship Game at noon, which CBS almost certainly wouldn’t want; Or have it go head to head with the Heisman Ceremony in prime time, something ESPN would certainly hate.

So while this option works well for Florida and LSU, it creates the most issues for a large number of other parties.

Honestly, there are no easy options here. If both sides came to the table wanting to negotiate, we’d be talking about the outcome of yesterday’s game right now. Instead, this is where we are now. October 29th seems to work best, but that’s got it’s issues. Sankey is going to have to show some leadership and figure this out — the very thing he failed to do in the first place to avoid this mess.

We’ll see what happens.