Paul and I have a long-running argument over the status of our rivalry with Florida. I have maintained that we have played some great games against them and I enjoy close, meaningful games, I don’t really have any particular ill will towards the Gators like I do towards, say, Auburn. Paul’s counterpoint is that Gainesville should be burned to the ground and the fields sown with salt.
The Florida athletic department its doing its best to get LSU fans to endorse Paul’s point of view. Yesterday, the school named LSU as its homecoming opponent, so they could stoke the fires of hatred just a little bit more.
This is likely a bad idea for them, as LSU celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Jacob Hester game this year. It’s also the 20th anniversary of LSU’s upset win over Florida which got Kevin Faulk on the cover of SI and marked the beginning of the Golden Age of LSU football. It’s the 30th anniversary of LSU’s last win over Florida before the Spurrier win streak. It’s the 40th anniversary of that time we beat them in 1977, and it’s been 50 years since we beat them in 1967. Every ten years, LSU brings its A-game to the Gators.
But, okay. It’s the most recent petty shot at LSU by a school that didn’t realize hurricanes were dangerous and refused to make any contingency plans for the weekend. And when it was less than 48 hours before the game and it turns out people were evacuating and law and medical personnel would be otherwise occupied so they couldn’t logistically pull off a football game and party for 100,000 people, Florida publicly blamed LSU for it.
The predictable folks have blamed LSU for the debacle. I mean, I’m flattered LSU has its own troll in the national media, so let’s check in on his version of events:
Love Florida scheduling LSU as its homecoming opponent. Spices up a rivalry after LSU's mishandling of last year's Hurricane Matthew game.— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) July 6, 2017
By mishandling, he means that LSU offered to play the games at a neutral site or at Tiger Stadium, going so far as to do the legwork to secure those sites to be ready for the weekend. Or offering to play the game on Sunday in Gainesville.
Of course, LSU couldn’t mishandle the situation because LSU had no control over the game. Foley refused to consider alternate sites or moving the game back a day, standing on his now infamous line, “the game will not be moved from Gainesville.”
Remember, that statement was AFTER Florida Governor Rick Scott stated “This storm will kill you” and that “the impact would be catastrophic.” But LSU is a bunch of babies for wanting to look at maybe moving the game somewhere else or back a day. And Foley was clearly putting safety first when he ignored the governor.
Foley then denied alternative sites were discussed and when the game was canceled, stated that planning a road trip for 150 people in one and half days is logistically impossible. That’s why LSU was calling to reschedule as early as Tuesday.
After insisting all week the game had to be played on Saturday in Gainesville, Foley immediately started talking about the paramount importance of safety once the game was canceled. Of course, it was never feasible to play the game. That’s why LSU acted all week like the game wasn’t going to be played. Get this, hurricanes are serious and should be treated as such. But after a week of denying this basic fact, Florida and their fans then turned around and started blaming LSU. Hell, even when canceling the game, Foley claimed, “As late as yesterday afternoon we spoke with the league and thought there was a very, very good chance we could play it on Saturday.” When the game was rescheduled, Foley took an unprofessional swipe at Alleva, “The conference office asked us to find a solution in working with LSU, yet LSU was never a true partner in our discussions."
So, to recap, LSU offered multiple sites and even did the advance work (the same LSU who hosted a South Carolina home game in 2015 when the Gamecocks couldn’t in the midst of catastrophic flooding). They offered moving the game back a day. Florida continually insisted the game would be played in Gainesville on Saturday in the face of a hurricane, then waited too long for any of the other options to still be viable. Then Foley went to a press conference to claim that scheduling a trip in one and half days just wasn’t feasible.
By the time Saturday rolled around, Florida realized that they needed this game to get played in order to be eligible for the SEC title. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey stated the game needed to be played, and hinted that if Florida did not reschedule the game, they would be ineligible for Atlanta.
Now, after offering multiple sites and days, LSU was really in no hurry to reschedule. The situation was caused almost entirely by Florida dragging their feet and denying the severity of the situation, and now they needed LSU to cancel one of its home games in order for Florida to reschedule. A few days later, Joe Alleva caved and agreed to play Florida at home, given that Baton Rouge was hit by its own natural disaster that same year, and local businesses needed the home game to help recover. LSU had to play three SEC games in the span of 16 days to close out the season, and Florida got its home game moved to this season when they will enjoy eight home games.
Somehow, Florida fans are the ones pissed off by this.
LSU bent over backwards to help Florida and tried to plan ahead, only to have Florida screw them over at every turn.
Then, the two parties came to a compromise that benefited Florida far more than LSU. LSU didn’t need the game to be rescheduled at all, Florida did. And they got the benefit of eight home games this year. What a deal.
So, this is where I’m supposed to admit Paul is right and this is a blood rivalry in which we want to destroy Florida and everyone wearing orange and blue. But that’s what Florida wants. The only proper way to acknowledge the Gators is:
I still hate Auburn more. So while it’s cute that you’re mad that you got everything you wanted, I’m just gonna let y’all deflect the blame for your own bungling of the situation. Maybe in the future, you’ll listen to your conference mates when they tell you hurricanes are dangerous and unpredictable, and perhaps we should work out a contingency plan in advance. But your lack of planning is not my crisis.
The most telling aspect is from Clay Travis’ reporting. Yeah, I know.
So beginning on Monday they were in constant contact with Florida officials seeking the latest updates on the forecast and endeavoring to know Florida’s own hurricane contingency plans. This constant contact set off alarm bells in Gainesville — what was LSU’s aim here?
If you think someone is trying to put one over on you because they want to open up lines of communication due to an impending natural disaster, maybe you need to step back from your evil schemes. This is a red flag that Florida is continually looking to screw over people, so it's always looking for the knife in their own back. That ain’t no way to live.
The world is what you make it. LSU wants it to be full of beer, live tigers, and more varieties of meat than you can count. The Gators can’t imagine a world in which everyone isn’t out for No. 1, trying to put one over on the other guy. If you want to live that way, that’s your right. But our way is certainly more fun. I ain’t got the desire to get in the muck and hate Florida. It’s like the old adage about wrestling a pig, and we already got a tepid rivalry with Arkansas.
Have a beer and shut up already.