BATON ROUGE, La. — After a week of behind-the-scenes drama, the Florida-LSU game is back on in an unexpected location: LSU’s Tiger Stadium on Nov. 19.
As first reported by Pete Yanity, who covers the Southern Conference for WPSA in Greenville, S.C., Presbyterian College was bought out by Florida, which was scheduled to host the Blue Hose on the 19th.
Per Presbyterian AD: Florida to play at LSU Nov. 19th. PC, bought out by UF, hopes to play at S. Ala that day.
— Pete Yanity (@pyanity) October 13, 2016
LSU, which earlier this week firmly stated that it would not abandon a home date, will likewise buy out scheduled opponent South Alabama to make way for the Gators.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed the news minutes after it broke with a statement.
“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,” 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.”
LSU will reciprocate by moving the next two games of the series to Gainesville.
Last Saturday’s game was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew striking Florida’s Atlantic coast, but became a political drama as every other college football game in the state was successfully rescheduled while the Tigers and Gators were unable to find a solution.
As noted in the league’s statement:
The SEC Commissioner’s Regulations requires each football team play all eight Conference games in a season in order to be eligible to compete for a divisional title and play in the SEC Championship Game. Had the game not been rescheduled, Florida and LSU would have been ineligible to compete for the SEC title this season.
Sankey also thanked Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson for his cooperation in getting South Alabama removed from LSU’s schedule.
“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.”
South Alabama athletic director Dr. Joel Erdmann expressed disappointment with the decision, though he does get to walk away with a check for $1.5 million for the buyout.
“Obviously we are extremely disappointed to not have the opportunity to play in Baton Rouge on Nov. 19,” Erdmann said in a school release. “This disappointment runs throughout our program, including our student-athletes, coaches, the University of South Alabama and all Jaguar fans. We realize this is a very complicated and unique situation. The University of South Alabama — with the assistance of the Sun Belt Conference — did everything reasonable within our power to make the game a reality, including offering to move our Homecoming game to a later date.”