All That and a Bag of Mail

Oct 1, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers interim head coach Ed Orgeron celebrates after a touchdown against the Missouri Tigers during the fourth quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports Derick E. Hingle

It’s nearly the weekend and a major hurricane is bearing down on the South and the entire SEC is in an uproar over how the biggest hurricane to potentially ever hit central Florida is going to impact the football schedule. 

SEC football really is the gift that keeps on giving. 

So the mailbag has been taken over by questions about the LSU-Florida game.

Here’s my best analysis of the question that all of you are asking: “What happens now with LSU and Florida’s game being canceled?”

Before we go any further let me just scream this from the high heavens:

YOU HAVE TO PLAY THE GAME IF NOT PLAYING IT IMPACTS THE OUTCOME OF THE SEC EAST OR WEST RACE.

Otherwise, in a worst case scenario, the SEC title game could feature two teams that lost head-to-head games, but advanced because they dodged a difficult game against an SEC foe. If Florida ran the table and Tennessee lost to Texas A&M and Alabama, which seems eminently foreseeable, then the Gators would win the SEC East with a record of 6-1 over the 6-2 Vols, despite the fact that they lose to Tennessee head-to-head and played one less game against an SEC West opponent.

Can you imagine the Tennessee fan reaction here?

And if LSU ran the table and beat Alabama and Texas A&M then the Tide or the Aggies could still advance to Atlanta at 7-1 even though they would have lost to 6-1 LSU because the Bayou Bengals would have played one less SEC game.

Put plainly, that would be a disaster for the SEC.

The Florida scenario is much more likely since the Gators would have toss-up games at Arkansas and vs. Georgia in the Cocktail Party. Otherwise they already have nearly half of their SEC schedule played, and sit at 2-1 on the season. Figure wins over Missouri and South Carolina are likely and Florida would have to feel pretty good about their chances of beating Arkansas and Georgia to get to 6-1.

Maybe this is why the Gators haven’t been very eager to play this game.

Of course Tennessee could eliminate this concern by winning against either Texas A&M or Alabama and finishing 7-1 in the conference, but this is Tennessee we’re talking about, when have the Vols ever eliminated any concerns?

In order to finish 6-1 LSU would still have to win games against Ole Miss, Alabama, at Arkansas and at Texas A&M. That seems unlikely, but an SEC champion still needs to be determined on the field. And everyone has to play an equal number of opponents. 

So if the game has to be played — as I think just about every SEC fan would agree it does — how do you play the game?

Well, there are several different ways this could happen, but all of them have complications. Here are the three best solutions to play LSU-Florida game as I see them:

1. Move the Florida-Georgia game up to 10/22 — when both Florida and Georgia have byes — and still play it in Jacksonville.

That frees up 10/29 for the Gators, which is a bye week for LSU, so you could play LSU at UF on 10/29. (Georgia’s bye would become 10/29 instead of 10/22).

If Jacksonville can’t make this work because the Jags have a home game scheduled the next day in the same stadium, then why not play the game this year at Georgia and then give the Gators a home game against Georgia in 2017 before returning to the regularly scheduled neutral site games in Jacksonville? (The best case scenario, clearly, is that Jacksonville can still host the game, just a week earlier. But if Jacksonville can’t do this, then just extend the Florida-Georgia contract with the city of Jacksonville by two years to make up for the change necessitated by the weather.)

The downside here is that LSU doesn’t get the bye week before the Alabama game, but I think it’s the best option because it preserves the schedule with the least amount of game movement possible.

2. Cancel LSU’s home game on 11/19 against South Alabama and let Florida buy out the game against Presbyterian.

Florida has evidently offered this option and LSU turned it down because this would be three straight SEC road games. But it also means LSU would get three straight SEC home games so I don’t see it as that persuasive of an argument.

One thing you’d probably have to do in this situation is make the LSU-A&M Thanksgiving Day game a Saturday game instead.

Presumably LSU would also have to be compensated somehow for the lost home game based on the lost revenue, but I would think the SEC, or the teams, would have to have insurance of some sort to pay for the lost home games in the event of cancellation.

3. Extend the season and play LSU at Florida on 12/3 and make the SEC title game a week later instead.

There’s already the Army-Navy game on this day so CBS could have a doubleheader of games. Plus, the SEC has moved the title game before when the league had to cancel games for 9/11.

The complicating factor here would be that you’d need to extend the announcement of the playoff teams and you wouldn’t be able to announce the bowl games either. Plus, you’d have to reschedule everything in Atlanta. Is the Dome available? Are there rooms available? Is there event space? It’s a logistical nightmare.

But the caveat here could be that this game would only be played if it mattered in the SEC standings. That is, if either LSU or Florida were in the mix for a trip to Atlanta. If both teams were already mathematically eliminated then there would be no need for the game to be played at all.

I really don’t see any other schedule option that would be viable.

If the game is going to be played, it has to be one of these three dates.

Of course, the decision that makes the most sense would just be to play the game on Monday night in Gainesville, but evidently that was already shot down.

And while LSU fans are upset over the Gator unwillingness to play the game in Baton Rouge or New Orleans, I don’t blame Florida for not being willing to move the home game.

But Florida really should have come up with a contingency plan that allowed them to play this week. Part of me thinks Florida was happy to avoid the game this week because it allows Luke Del Rio another week to heal and they hope to have him for the rest of the season.

Plus, I think the Gators realize that they have a better chance of going to Atlanta if this game is never played at all.

But the SEC can’t allow this to happen. 

Phil writes:

“Assuming LSU loses again and Alabama can still win the SEC even with a loss is it worth a loss to LSU to get Coach O hired long term? That would be the Les Miles Clock Management of coaching hires.

Does Bama make the playoffs at 12-1, SEC Champs with a loss to Coach O? They’d have wins over USC, at ranked Arkansas, Tennessee and Ole Miss and Texas A&M at home.”

This would be a genius move by Nick Saban, the ultimate process loss. 

Take the loss to Coach Orgeron knowing that it dooms your biggest SEC West rival for recruits to three-four years of failure. 

It’s so much of a genius move, I kind of think it’s going to happen. 

Jim writes:

“Clay, please settle a bet. Like the rest of Vol Nation, I thought the Georgia Hail Mary, aka the Dobbnail Boot, was beyond hope and a dream come true. But which was more dramatic: Auburn’s kick six against Bama leading to a SEC West title or this game?”

I actually think the way Tennessee-Georgia ended was even rarer than the kick six ending. That’s because I’ve never seen two teams complete touchdown passes of over 40+ yards in the final 19 seconds of a game before. In fact, I doubt it has ever happened since it’s almost mathematically impossible. 

Having said that, the kick six was for a division title, an SEC title, and very nearly a national championship. 

So we’ll have to wait and see what the long range impact of Tennessee-Georgia is. If the Vols go on to win the division, win the SEC title and play for a national title then we’ll be able to better assess the significance. 

Right now I think the Dobbnail Boot was less likely to happen, but that the Kick Six was more significant. 

Becky writes:

“As the good 3rd generation UT alum that I am, I mentioned to my husband several weeks ago how I would really love to go to the the TN/AL game for my birthday, which is the week before the game. Our kids don’t have soccer that day because of Fall Break, and my mother-in-law will typically offer to keep the 3 of them for us to “go out” for my birthday. Obviously, she always means dinner and a movie, but we almost always make this into a chance to get to Knoxville (we live in Chattanooga) for a game.

Yesterday it occurred to me that he was likely to have taken that ball and run with it like Jalen Hurd. I immediately called him at work to tell him that under no circumstances should he go spend $600 on TN/Bama tickets for me for my birthday. So, here is the dilemma…Do we go and try to buy tickets after kick-off? If so, what is the lowest price for lower deck you think we could get? What is the latest you would wait after kick-off to purchase? Are we risking messing around and missing the whole damn thing by trying? We have a movie theater set-up in our basement, so the difference between the comfort of home and watching in a bar is significant. My husband isn’t nearly the football fan that I am, so he would be doing this really for me. What do you think our play here is?”

Right now the cheapest you can get lower bowl tickets on SeatGeek for is around $350.

If both Tennessee and Alabama win I don’t see this ticket price coming down at all.

Now, sometimes there are a decent amount of seats available outside the stadium, but I’d be surprised if you can find any for less than $200 on gameday.

Even then you’d have to wait until after kickoff and roll the dice that the walk-up ticket market wasn’t as strong as many scalpers hoped.

Personally, if I make the drive up to Knoxville I’m going to go ahead and pull the trigger on buying tickets. There’s no way I’m driving all the way up there and watching the game in a crowded bar.

Happy birthday and good luck. .

I’m posting the mailbag on Thursday night because I’m going straight from the radio show on Friday to hop a flight to Destin.

It’s fall break on the beach.

I’m sure I’ll see some of y’all there.  

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.