GAINESVILLE, Fla. — LSU and Florida will play Nov. 19 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, a game rescheduled because of Hurricane Matthew.
The Southeastern Conference made the announcement Thursday, ending a week of speculation about what would happen to the game originally scheduled for last Saturday in Gainesville.
The teams had to buy out nonconference opponents scheduled for that Saturday: South Alabama for LSU and Presbyterian for Florida.
The arrangement means the Tigers (3-2, 2-1 SEC) will avoid playing three consecutive road games over a 13-day span to end the regular season. The 18th-ranked Gators (4-1, 2-1) will lose two homes games — about $7.8 million in projected revenue from ticket sales alone — but likely will recoup some of that through insurance.
LSU also agreed to play in Gainesville in 2017 and 2018, which gets the Gators one game back. It also means Florida will host rivals Tennessee, LSU and Florida State next season.
On Monday, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva insisted the school would not relinquish its scheduled home date on Nov. 19 to play in Florida because he did not believe it was fair to LSU fans and the Baton Rouge area to do so after LSU had made every effort to have last weekend’s game played either in in Gainesville on Sunday or Monday, or in Tiger Stadium.
In expressing his disappointment that the game was not played last week, Alleva essentially expressed consternation over the fact that Florida’s held out for a Saturday game in Gainesville last week until Thursday, when the storm’s track made it too late to do anything but postpone the game to another week.
Meanwhile, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley was candid about his university not being entirely happy with the solution.
“LSU was never a true partner in our discussions,” Foley said. “The Southeastern Conference offered some other solutions and the LSU administration made it clear that they were unwilling to consider other reasonable options.”
Since the postponement, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said he saw it as important for all sides to find a solution to play the game this season to avoid a scenario where two teams in the conference play one fewer SEC game than every other team in the league. Had that been the case, it likely would have compelled the SEC to choose division winners based on winning percentage.
“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,” Sankey said in a written statement Thursday. “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.”
Now every SEC team remains scheduled to play eight league games.