By Andrew Zuhosky
You all saw the news and weather reports about it last week. Hurricane Matthew left a path of destruction and fatalities. Our thoughts are with those affected by the storm.
The storm’s associated landfall also necessitated some adjustments to last weekend’s schedule of sporting events, most notably Saturday’s football game between Louisiana State University and the University of Florida.
In the days leading up to Hurricane Matthew’s landfall, the status of the contest as it related to the weather was examined by all parties involved.
On Oct. 6, less than 48 hours prior to the game’s originally-scheduled noon EDT kickoff, the Southeastern Conference decided that the game would be called off.
In the aftermath of the game’s postponement, fans of both programs voiced their displeasure on Twitter.
Some fans insinuated that Florida was scared to play LSU. Others wondered why not move the game to Baton Rouge? As I read those tweets, I thought “O.K., how on Earth can these fans be so insensitive and not base their opinions in reality?”
If you’ve ever vacationed in a hurricane-prone area during hurricane season and had a hurricane make landfall while on you’re there, as had happened to me in 2004 when I was vacationing in Orlando the same weekend that Hurricane Charley made landfall, you’d know that a powerful storm like a hurricane is not something to be taken lightly.
A football game will never be as important as the safety of entire communities in the run-up, during and after the landfall of a hurricane. It’s an act of nature as well as a fact of life.
While the SEC should be rightly commended in calling the game off and putting safety first, I’m left wondering why they called the game off as late as they did.
Hurricane Matthew will likely be remembered as one of the worst storms in recent memory. However, I guarantee you that no one will remember the negative reactions of fans who didn’t feel the same way over the SEC putting safety first and calling the LSU/Florida game off.
The real bone of contention here is why did the SEC not call the game off earlier? Let’s suppose they made a decision about this on Oct. 4 or 5. That would have been a better solution in my opinion.
By deciding the fate of the game on Oct. 4, the SEC would likely have given itself enough time to find an alternate stadium to hold the game in and might have saved it from a postponement.
A decision on the game’s fate early last week may have also kept the game in Gainesville, Florida, where it was slated to have been held.
If that had happened, the SEC could have rescheduled the game from Oct. 8 to the following Monday evening, as the SEC had done with the 2005 game between LSU and The University of Tennessee after the landfall of Hurricane Rita.
As luck would have it, Hurricane Matthew’s remnants thankfully missed Gainesville, and it would have been a clear day for the game if it had been held.
In the aftermath of the game’s postponement, it remains to be seen as of now if last Saturday’s contest will be rescheduled.
As I’m sure you’ve read in other columns about this issue, neither team has a uniform bye week this season. Nov. 19 has been thrown around as a reschedule date for the game, when Florida is supposed to play Presbyterian College and LSU is supposed to play the University of South Alabama.
Whether both schools cancel those games to reschedule the Oct. 8 contest is unknown, but hopefully it gets played, especially if it has relevance to the conference championship picture.
Note: The Oct. 8 Southeastern Conference football game between Louisiana State University and the University of Florida that was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew’s landfall will be made up Nov. 19 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The announcement was made following this column being published. The 2017 and 2018 games between the two teams will now be played at Florida.