Public relations-wise and competition-wise, there are at least two absolute and utter nightmare scenarios that could play out for the SEC based on today’s events.
Earlier Thursday, the conference announced that the LSU-Florida game scheduled for Saturday will be “postponed” because of the threat of Hurricane Matthew. While the league stated that all involved parties “will work to reschedule the game later in the 2016 season if possible,” most see that as highly unlikely at best.
Neither team has a bye weekend that lines up with the other, so that’s not an option. The teams both play non-conference games the weekend of Nov. 19 and could buy out those games to allow this one to go off, although it’s unclear if LSU would be willing to give up a home game to play in Gainesville — especially when they seemingly bent over backwards in an attempt to accommodate getting the postponed game in this weekend.
The SEC could also push its championship game, set for Dec. 3, back a week to allow for this game to be played that weekend if it would have an impact on the standings. That could prove to be a logistical minefield, though, and would also have to get the approval of the College Football Playoff Committee as their final rankings that will set the four semifinalists are slated to be released on Dec. 4.
If there’s no resolution that results in the game being played? Hello mother of all embarrassing PR nightmares.
Per conference bylaws, the winner of the East or West divisions of the SEC is determined by the team with the highest winning percentage. LSU currently stands at 2-1 in league play; if the Tigers win out to finish at 6-1, which would include a win over Alabama, and again this postponed game is not made up, the Tigers could lose out on the West’s spot in the conference championship game to a 7-1 Tide team they beat on the field because of winning percentage (.875 for UA, .857 for LSU). That scenario, of course, assumes both LSU and ‘Bama handle current conference-unbeaten Texas A&M.
While the potential situation in the other division is a little more unlikely, and not nearly as embarrassing as the above, it’s still a possibility.
Tennessee currently leads the SEC East at 2-0, followed by Florida at 2-1. with the lone loss coming to the Vols. Should the Gators win out they’d finish at 6-1. If the Vols stumble twice to finish at 6-2, Florida would received the title game berth based of winning percentage.
In other words, there’s a very real incentive for the Tigers to get this game rescheduled and played. The Gators? Not so much.
Given the situation, it would behoove the SEC to step and demand that the two teams buy out the Nov. 19 non-conference games and get this game played — and, in the process, ensure avoiding some significant embarrassment on down the road.