LSU-Florida cancellation affects all of college football

The postponement of the LSU-Florida football game this weekend in Gainesville, due Hurricane Matthew’s jaunt up the Sunshine State’s east coast, is understandable. The cancelation of the game is dumbfounding, as it has the ability to affect the SEC Championship and College Football Playoff.

As the National Weather Service predicted the storm would approach the coast overnight Thursday, Florida officials held fast all week – through Thursday morning – that the game would be played as scheduled, with kickoff Saturday at noon local time. It wasn’t until Thursday afternoon that the Gators decided to postpone it. Now it looks like the game won’t be played at all.

Hurricanes are not to be taken lightly. College football fans have no issue with the game not being played in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. The potential loss of life that the storm could cause easily trumps getting in a football game.

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But word is getting out that LSU officials urged Florida to do something, and the Gators wouldn’t move. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said the Tigers offered to play at a neutral site, to make arrangements for Florida’s entourage in Baton Rouge and host the game in Tiger Stadium, and play the game in Gainesville on Sunday. Florida rejected all options, saying it didn’t want to lose revenue the game would provide.

It seems odd, considering previous hurricanes have made LSU move a home game against Arizona State to Tempe and play a “road” game in Tiger Stadium against South Carolina.

Both teams have non-conference games against cupcake teams on Saturday, Nov. 19. LSU plays South Alabama and Florida plays Presbyterian. It was suggested the SEC schools pay South Alabama and Presbyterian to cancel the game, so that the schools wouldn’t miss out on a conference game. Again, it was rejected, as neither team wanted to lose revenue from a home game.

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The two teams reluctance to reschedule could have a butterfly effect that upsets the balance of every top-level college football program.

Let’s start with the Tigers and Gators, each team will get an extra week off to heal and rest that other opponents won’t have. LSU still has to face Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas A&M. Florida has Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas and South Carolina remaining. That’s a reward for both teams.

But further examination shows Florida benefits more by not playing LSU, who was favored by 3. Now that LSU is off of their schedule, the Gators are favored to win the remaining SEC games on their schedule. If they do, they’ll finish with a 6-1 conference record.

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Tennessee, who beat Florida head-to-head earlier this season, is currently the underdog in their upcoming matchups with Texas A&M and Alabama. If the Vols drop both of those games and win the rest of their SEC games, they’ll finish with a 6-2 conference record. Because the Gators would have the higher SEC winning percentage, they would win the SEC East, play for the conference championship, and possibly be invited to a more prestigious bowl with a higher cash payout than Tennessee. That’s not right. If Florida played LSU and lost, and the teams’ games go as predicted, Tennessee and Florida both finish 6-2. And the Vols win the division due to their head-to-head win.

Interim LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said that he felt like a daddy who had no presents for his family on Christmas when he told his team they wouldn’t play this weekend.

It’s disappointing, but it would be downright Grinchlike if the Gators are able to steal the division crown from Tennessee by dodging the Tigers. 



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