BATON ROUGE, La. — At this point, we are extremely hesitant to pose this question out of a fear of somehow ushering in the actual apocalypse, but it still must be asked: What on earth can we expect to happen next in LSU’s football season?
It has been unusual from the start.
One of the most turbulent summers in Baton Rouge history served as the backdrop heading into training camp, but soon even that storyline was washed away by a flood 1,000 years in the making.
If the season promised a return to normalcy, that promise soon was broken.
No one anticipated the season-opening dud at Wisconsin, even if time has demonstrated that the Badgers are the third-best team in a suddenly resurgent Big Ten.
The home opener against Jacksonville State was delayed an hour by the rain, and it took LSU’s offense another 15 minutes to show up for the first time when former starting quarterback Brandon Harris was benched for Danny Etling.
Two weeks later, it appeared the Tigers had pulled off one of Les Miles’ signature last-second Mad Hatter wins at Auburn. Then, upon further review, Miles was fired one-third of the way into his 12th season.
The following week, the previously moribund Tiger offense woke up under interim coach Ed Orgeron and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, setting a school record with 634 yards in a conference game. Again, not even the worst Vanderbilt team — heck, not even Tulane when it was an SEC member — ever got gashed by the Tigers in such a manner.
All of it was just a prelude to more madness.
This is now unquestionably the strangest season of LSU football since hurricane-torn 2005, with a storm once again factoring into the picture as Hurricane Matthew forced the “postponement” of the Tigers game at Florida. And as you probably can decipher from the quotation marks surrounding the word postponement, this season may still be a long way from peak weirdness.
LSU’s initial, since-deleted official tweet referred to the lost game as a cancellation.
Florida, on the other hand, is trying to play the knight in shining armor by pushing the narrative of a postponement with the hopes of rescheduling the game on Nov. 19 instead of a non-conference pillow fight against FCS lightweight Presbyterian.
At this point, LSU’s response to that idea is exactly as it should be: Hell no, we won’t go. Florida’s knight in shining armor act is a sanctimonious load of crap.
The Tigers are at Arkansas the week before, then have a season-ending game at Texas A&M four days later on Thanksgiving night. And they would be on the hook for a $1.5 million buyout to South Alabama for the cancellation of that game. Even if the conference ponied up for the buyout, LSU would be missing out on revenue at least 95,000 tickets that would have to be refunded. Plus parking revenues, and concessions.
Not gonna happen.
Unless it has to happen?
Let’s say Florida finishes 6-1 in the SEC East. Tennessee, which still has to play Texas A&M and Alabama from the West, could potentially go 6-2. The Gators, despite losing to the Vols head-to-head, would be the Eastern Division champions.
Not cool. And also seemingly part of the reason athletic director Jeremy Foley shadily dragged along the announcement of the postponement rather than face LSU at a neutral site or in a Sunday game in Gainesville. Surely he and Jim McElwain know how the schedules play out and how no game would benefit Florida while simultaneously making LSU look like bad sports for not offering to play along in November.
On top of that, it also could prevent LSU from reaching the SEC Championship Game.
If the Tigers were to somehow run the table and hand Alabama its only loss, the Crimson Tide would win the West by virtue of having a better winning percentage with a 7-1 record compared to LSU’s 6-1 mark. The same holds true for Texas A&M should the Aggies be the team in that scenario.
The most feasible solution would require the help of a third school, Georgia.
The Bulldogs and Gators both have a bye the weekend before The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party on Oct. 29. If they were able to move the game up a week, then the Florida-LSU game could slide into that spot. But because the game is played at a neutral site in Jacksonville, the logistics of making that double-move work are dicey at best.
LSU seems adamant that there will be no Florida game this year. But if this season has taught us anything, it’s that nothing should be ruled out of the realm of possibility.
2016 is impossibly weird. And odds are it will only get stranger.