BATON ROUGE – Amid all the anger and venom from fans and media on both sides of the LSU-Florida postponement powder keg over the last week, we forgot something.
It could still happen if the game is played, but it will not be as fresh in people’s minds as if the game had been played on Sunday or Monday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, which was very doable had the very talented and capable Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley wanted to do so. But when one does not want to do something for whatever reason – and it is doubtful that he didn’t want to play because he thought his team would lose – one can thank up a myriad of reasons not to do something. And Foley thought of many, including some that were just not true.
Now, LSU fans hate Florida almost as much as they ever hated more successful Alabama – if not more. And Florida fans hate LSU almost as much as they hate more successful Florida State – if not more.
But had Foley, who is retiring on November 1 and has likely been coasting, gotten his act together and hosted LSU on Sunday or Monday, something wonderful could have happened.
A LSU-Florida game in Gainesville could have raised money for Hurricane Matthew relief. Football games soon after natural disasters are huge money makers for charity. There is a captive audience most of which was either in or very close to the disaster. If they make it to the game, chances are they’ve got disposable income. Boxes outside the stadium asking for Matthew donations. Can’t lose.
When LSU’s home game against Arizona State on September 10, 2005, was moved to Arizona State because its campus had turned into a MASH unit with a field hospital in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, a Chinook helicopter landing pad on Alex Box Stadium’s field and a morgue in the basement of the Assembly Center, $1 million was raised for the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. Arizona State president Michael Crow and LSU president Sean O’Keefe presented the check at the game. The money came from ticket sales.
When South Carolina moved its game to LSU last October because of record flooding in Columbia, South Carolina, and surrounding areas, LSU donated $1.8 million of its approximate $3 million income from the game to a flood victim fund in South Carolina. LSU tailback Leonard Fournette, who lived with his family on an Interstate 10 overpass in New Orleans for five days post Katrina in 2005, auctioned off the jersey he wore in that game to the tune of $101,000 that went to flood victims.
Things like this could have happened last Sunday or Monday in Gainesville. But it did not happen, and it should have.
Last Thursday, Foley said this:
“As late as yesterday afternoon when we spoke to the league, we thought there would be a very, very good chance that we could play on Saturday. Maybe adjust the game time on Saturday, but we really thought we were going to be able to play. In fact, when I went home last night, that’s what I thought.”
Yet, Florida that same Wednesday afternoon announced there would be no class on Friday. And by Wednesday night – when Foley was going home - a state of emergency had been declared by President Obama. Few, other than Foley, thought a game in Gainesville was possible on Saturday. What or who was he listening to or watching?
Interestingly, a story on the Florida athletics website on Thursday changed the “night” reference by Foley to, “When Foley left the office on Wednesday AFTERNOON, he remained confident the Gators-LSU game scheduled for Saturday would be played.” Maybe just a slip by the writer. Or maybe a little clean-up? The next Foley sentence would be hard for the best of cleaners.
“And then as we all know the storm, even late yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon took a turn, took another turn, you know, uh, last night, and again this morning,” Foley said.
“From last Wednesday afternoon on, there were no major changes in the path of Matthew,” meteorologist Steve Caparotta of WAFB Channel 9 in Baton Rouge said this week. “There were no major turns.”
Foley, though, kept turning, twisting and spinning.
“It made it impossible to play a football game on Saturday or Sunday,” he said and then said how impossible it would be to stage a game with limited emergency personnel and police and so forth. That was partly true, but Foley didn’t try. He didn’t study the template of LSU-Tennessee in 2005 or other games in his own region over the weekend. If he had, he would know state police, fire department personnel and other public safety personnel can be borrowed from other states. Louisiana got help from other states’ police post Katrina, post Rita and post Gustav.
“I could’ve sent troopers to Florida for the storm or to help with a game,” Louisiana State Police superintendent Mike Edmonson told the USA Today Network on Wednesday. “I could’ve sent 30 state troopers, fire marshals, other public safety officers. That’s common after storms. We weren’t called. We’re looking at this after the fact, but absolutely we could’ve helped with the storm or with a game on Sunday or Monday.”
SEC TV THURSDAY – Mississippi State at Brigham Young (3-3), 9:15 p.m., ESPN.
SEC TV SATURDAY – Vanderbilt at Georgia, 11 a.m., SEC Network; No. 1 Alabama at No. 11 Tennessee, 2:30 p.m., CBS; Missouri at No. 14 Florida, 3 p.m., SEC Network; No. 13 Ole Miss at No. 22 Arkansas, 6 p.m., ESPN; Southern Mississippi at No. 25 LSU, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network.
GUILBEAU POLL: 1. Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC). 2. Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0). 3. Tennessee (5-1, 2-1). 4. Arkansas (4-2, 0-2). 5. Ole Miss (3-2, 1-1). 6. Auburn (4-2, 2-1). 7. LSU (3-2, 2-1). 8. Florida (4-1, 2-1). 9. Georgia (4-2, 2-2). 10. Mississippi State (2-3, 1-2). 11. Missouri (2-3, 0-2). 12. Kentucky (3-3, 2-2). 13. South Carolina (2-4, 1-4). 14. Vanderbilt (2-4, 0-3).
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “And then as we all know, the storm even late yesterday afternoon took a turn, took another turn, you know, um, last night, and again this morning.”
---Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley on Thursday, October 6, incorrectly tracking the path of Hurricane Matthew at a press conference.
Coverage of LSU and commentary by Glenn Guilbeau supported by Hebert’s Town & Country Automobile Dealer in Shreveport located at 1155 East Bert Kouns Loop. Research your next Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep or Ram at http://hebertstandc.com/.)