BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Many of my media cohorts have already addressed this controversial situation and have written about it much better than I could, but here are just a few of my thoughts on the "postponed" football game between the LSU Tigers and Florida Gators.
I have met new SEC commissioner Greg Sankey at football media days, and he's been friendly and cordial. I have no reason to dislike the guy and certainly have a ton of respect for associate commissioner for communications Herb Vincent, who spent many years at LSU working in the athletics office. Many people still believe Vincent would be a great athletic director at LSU and I hardly disagree.
I'm just at a loss, a bit confused and slightly angry that the SEC just seemed to sit this one out. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley seemed
to dictate everything in terms of the football game as Hurricane Matthew approached and the league office passively nodded in reply.
It should've been the SEC handing down orders.
The hurricane, without question, is an awful thing and makes a football game seem trivial. But despite what you've been told, the two aren't exclusive. Everyone affiliated with the Florida Gators football program could've been kept safe, and a game against the Tigers should've also been played.
Is it too late to get this horse back in the barn and play Monday night? Apparently so. What a head-shaking and maddening turn of events.
Although Florida said they were monitoring the storm and what not all week, the theme of safety was certainly underplayed through Wednesday. What did stand out was "The game will not be moved out of Gainesville."
On Thursday, Foley spoke as if the hurricane had bent and curved like a Jared Poche pitch, suddenly making the game unplayable.
As WAFB meteorologists explained all week, the hurricane was going to impact Gainesville in some capacity. Despite that, incredibly, no neutral site locations were discussed.
You don't want to play in Tiger Stadium? That's fine, but you're going to play somewhere before the end of Monday, so take your medicine, as nasty as it tastes, and let's make this game happen.
Is football made too important in the South? Absolutely. But as former LSU basketball star Keith Hornsby's father Bruce famously sang, "That's just the way it is. Some things will never change."
And don't you believe it.
Meet halfway in Mobile, Alabama and play the game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Open two gates - one for the LSU team to enter and the other for the Florida Gators. Keep all the other gates locked and play the game in front of no one if you wish. Televise the contest so fans and parents can watch. If you wish for the media to cover it, we all still have our credentials or could receive them at will call. Staffing could be kept to a minimum.
But you play the game before the end of Monday, period.
The hoops LSU jumped through during the 2005 season after hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been well-documented. The bottom line is the Tigers jumped through them and played all 12 of their regular season games that year. They even finished No. 5 in the country.
That's fighting through adversity, but apparently, others aren't interested in that approach.
LSU gave Florida countless options, including ones that didn't include a roaring Death Valley, to play the game. However, the Gators stubbornly shook their head and replied, "Do not want."
In the end, the biggest losers are the student-athletes. For LSU, being a football player is a year-round job and not an easy one. Strength and conditioning
coach Tommy Moffitt told me the Tigers have the month of May off and that's basically it.
The other 11 months are spent working in some regard: running, lifting, practicing or playing. The Tigers get 12 little games to play all year, and one was taken away from them when it should've been played.
People in high places failed the student-athletes for both schools and the fans alike, and it's hard to believe it occurred, hurricane or not.