Florida and LSU will make up their Hurricane Matthew-postponed game at LSU on November 19, buying out their guarantee-game non-conference opponents on that day, and play 2017’s edition of the crossover rivalry in Gainesville, the SEC announced on Thursday.
"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."
"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."
The concessions, in this case, seem to be exclusively being made by Florida.
The Gators will play five of their eight SEC games away from Gainesville in 2016, doing so for the second straight year, and will play just five home games in 2016, with none of the opponents on that home slate — UMass, Kentucky, North Texas, Missouri, and South Carolina — likely to be a winning team at season’s end.
And while Florida fans will be refunded for tickets purchased to last Saturday’s postponed game against LSU and the November 19 date with Presbyterian that will not be played, the process for that will be complicated.
Season ticket holders with tickets to the 2016 LSU and Presbyterian games will have their ticket money from each game applied as a credit towards their 2017 season ticket costs. This credit will show as a line item on their 2017 invoice that will reduce the total ticket cost for the 2017 season. If the season ticket holder does not wish to have their monies applied towards the 2017 season, they may receive them as a refund instead. The deadline to request the refund will be Friday, Oct. 28. After the 28th, all monies will be applied towards the 2017 season.
Single game purchasers can apply their monies from either game (or both, if applicable) towards 2017 season tickets or request a refund. The deadline to request the refund will be Friday, Oct. 28.
If fans would like to have the monies applied towards 2017 season tickets, no further action needs to be taken. The Gator Ticket Office will reach out to fans in 2017 to secure season tickets using the credit towards the total cost.
University of Florida students will receive a refund for both games back to the payment type used to purchase the season ticket. A separate communication outlining the refund of both games will be sent to all students who purchased season and/or guest tickets for each game.
SEC insurance policies will help defray some of the costs of cancelling games with Presbyterian and South Alabama, per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, but both schools are likely to be paying something to their non-conference foes without them ever setting foot in Gainesville or Baton Rouge.
It’s no wonder that retiring athletic director Jeremy Foley was explicit about his disappointment with LSU for its intransigence on finding rescheduling options, and drew a contrast between the mighty Tigers and the less-esteemed Blue Hose.
"We made this decision to play the game in Baton Rouge," said Foley. "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."
"I also would like to thank Presbyterian for their cooperation during this process and allowing us to move ahead with a solution," Foley added.
Florida coach Jim McElwain’s comments, too, suggest that there may be some lingering bad blood in this rivalry.
"As I've said all along – we will play anyone, anywhere, anytime," said Head Coach Jim McElwain. "I think I've made that pretty clear. The Gators never run from anyone or dodge anyone."
LSU’s release on the rescheduling of the game, meanwhile, is the SEC’s release, verbatim. That release praises Florida, Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson — who likely handled or participated in negotiations on behalf of South Alabama — and Presbyterian. It notably does not thank LSU.
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva insisted on Monday that LSU would play a home game on November 19.
“One thing we’re going to hold very firm on is that we have a home game on November 19, and we’re going to have a home game on November 19," Alleva said forcefully. “We are going to have a home game on November 19. We are not going to change that situation. It’s the fact that our fans and this city deserve to have a home game that day. We’re not going to give up a home game.”
Alleva’s Thursday statement begins with the words “We are happy.”
Congratulations to Alleva and the Tigers on getting their way, and engineering a second straight season with five SEC home games by virtue of fortuitous timing of natural disasters.