Thanks to the University of Florida and its outgoing athletic director, Jeremy Foley, the Southeastern Conference will play its full football schedule.

Foley and Florida bent over backwards to make the Florida-LSU game happen. The two teams’ game, postponed from last weekend because of Hurricane Matthew, will be played on Nov. 19. It will be played in Baton Rouge instead of Gainesville.

Rick Cleveland
Rick Cleveland Credit: Melanie Thortis

Both teams had to buy out non-conference opponents they were scheduled to play that day. Florida was supposed to play Presbyterian. LSU was supposed to play South Alabama. Maybe those two can play one other while they happily figure out how to spend the buyout money.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey made clear he credits Foley and Florida for making the deal happen.

“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,” Sankey said.

LSU essentially said: We’ll play here or we just won’t play.

“It got nasty,” said one person with knowledge of the negotiations.

Foley made clear his feelings about LSU’s refusal to negotiate.

“The conference office asked us to find a solution in working with LSU yet LSU was never a true partner in our discussions,” Foley said. “The SEC offered some other solutions, and the LSU administration made it clear that they were unwilling to consider other reasonable options.”

As a result, LSU plays five of its eight SEC games at home this season. Florida plays five of its eight league games on the road.

Fair?

The only LSU person who should be unhappy with this is the next LSU coach, the one who will have to play at Gainesville the next two seasons, the one who will have to play five SEC road games next year.

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Rick Cleveland

Rick Cleveland

Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 12 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.