At the risk of flogging the deceased equine one more time…

Scott Rabalais’ last look at the Florida-LSU scheduling debacle makes me want to flesh out a couple of points I made in the quick reaction I posted last night.

… There’s no reason that this Thursday’s solution could not have been reached last Thursday.

Last Thursday, Florida was painting everyone into a corner with a hard hit from Matthew looking like a grim possibility for Gainesville. This after, during talks among the schools and the SEC on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Florida was adamant that the game could be played there last Saturday.

No contingencies were apparently considered, like the ones offered by LSU to play Sunday or Monday in Gainesville, or to move the game to Tiger Stadium on either of those days or Saturday. Florida wanted no part of it — not because it wanted to duck LSU but out of sheer stubbornness, and the SEC didn’t twist a Gator arm.

There are two reasons this situation came to a head.  One, SEC rules allow a single athletic director to cancel a conference game, but requires the approval of both athletic directors to reschedule the meeting.  Two, Greg Sankey took a hands off approach in managing the problems created by Hurricane Matthew and left it up to the athletic directors to solve on their own.

Sankey’s passivity didn’t lead to a mess in Columbia, because Georgia and South Carolina were able to compromise and delay the game a day.  But once Foley held firm on no game being played in Gainesville or anywhere else that weekend, no matter how the weather situation developed, a conflict was inevitable because from that point on, it would take two to tango.

I have no idea what motivated Foley to take the position he did —  I agree that it wasn’t a matter of Florida not wanting to play the game at all — but it really shouldn’t have made a difference.  Foley put himself and the conference in a box and saw his hand eventually forced by the commissioner and the SEC requirement that any team playing in the conference championship game had to complete an eight-game schedule.

If I don’t understand Foley’s motivation, Sankey’s reluctance to get involved until he did was equally puzzling.  It turns out he held the hammer all along; had he played it a week ago, I suspect events would have played out quite differently and with much less rancor.

“We made this decision to play the game in Baton Rouge,” he said. “The conference office asked us to find a solution in working with LSU, yet LSU was never a true partner in our discussions. The Southeastern Conference offered some other solutions, and the LSU administration made it clear that they were unwilling to consider other reasonable options.”

Nice whine, Jeremy.  What’s left unsaid is that some of those other solutions not only required LSU’s cooperation, but other conference schools like Georgia and Texas A&M, as well.  What was in it for them to pitch in and save Foley from the consequences of his decision?

The end result sucks a little for both schools.

The pain, more of it than was required, does get spread around. Florida loses two home games: LSU and its scheduled game Nov. 19 against Presbyterian. LSU plays an 11-game schedule for the second straight season (last year’s home opener with McNeese State was wiped out by weather) by canceling its scheduled Nov. 19 game with South Alabama and has to travel to Florida in 2017 as a makeup for this year.

That, of course, is in addition to the money being paid to the cupcakes as a result of their games being cancelled.  “More of it than was required” is exactly right.

It’s certainly no way to run a railroad.  I expect the conference to try to come up with a new set of protocols to deal with potential bad weather situations in the future, but good luck with that.  How many athletic directors are willing to cede that kind of control to Greg Sankey?


Filed under SEC Football

42 responses to “At the risk of flogging the deceased equine one more time…

  1. DawgPhan

    I wonder if UF will send refunds. Season ticket holders only got 5 of the 7 home games and all of the home games were less than great with LSU being the only big game on the home schedule.

    I think that the SEC needs to take a stab at resetting some of the schedules now. LSU now has a tougher every other year type of schedule, UGA has the Auburn and Tech on the same schedule. I would imagine that this switch has impacted Florida as well.

    Might be time to just reset everything.

  2. Normaltown Mike

    Did you have Sentell?

    I seem to recall him saying: “flailing against an expired equine” or something close to that.

    • 81Dog

      “We are peering into the cavities of a gift equine. And you say what?”

      didn’t have him for Torts, took him for Muni Corps during the bar quarter just for the experience. I was not disappointed. Dude was a trip.

      • Mary Kate Danaher

        I never had the pleasure of taking one of his classes. One of my great regrets.

        • Normaltown Mike

          his lectures were funny, once you got over being terrified by him.

          His exam was utter bull shit though. 12 questions where he would have a single inane phrase that he had coined and you were supposed to regurgitate the case law and legal axiom at issue based upon the silly one liner Perry came up with.

          • 81Dog

            that was pretty much all the teachers I had, bruh. Most of them just weren’t as entertaining as RPS, Jr., although quite a few of them thought themselves hilarious (cough, Professor Pear, cough)

            The most ridiculous exam I ever took was composed by that Champion of Oppressed Peoples, Mr. Donnie Wilkes. 50 T/F questions on his Legal History exam. The first one, which I still remember all these years later, was “William of Orange was so named because of the color of his hair.” The succeeding 49 were of equally high quality. I felt dumber for attending his class, but it was my last quarter in school, and I didn’t want to divert valuable time and energy from socializing. After 2.67 years of listening to all that, and taking the bar exam, I figured I had earned a little reprieve.

            • Normaltown Mike

              Donnie Wilkes set fire to a copy of the Constitution in front of the Crim Pro class when I was there. What a clown.

              I’ve also heard he sashayed into class once with a scarf that was a gift from one of the Alday family killers.

              About half way through law school, I found out that certain profs had take home or open-book exams (thank you Gabriel Vilner!)…the rest was histroy.

              • My story along those lines: first day of torts, professor got up and told class, “no matter what you’ve heard, I’m not a Gilbert’s professor”. First thing I did after class was go buy Gilbert’s. I wound up winning the torts award for best grade in the section.

                • 79Dawg

                  My first day, our Contracts professor just eviscerated some poor girl; I remember thinking that if she had called on me, I probably would’ve dropped out that day. We later found out the poor girl was called on because she had gone to Florida for undergrad…

              • 81Dog

                The Skipper!!!!! We called Mr. Wilner by that name because he taught us Admiralty. Easily the most affable teacher of any I had in law school. “Boats” was, perhaps, not the most utilitarian of classes, but it was a welcome break during the bar quarter.

                Just my opinion, but the intelligentsia/faculty really worked law students over when they managed to get the rule changed so that third year students couldn’t take the bar in February. It may not have mattered to the people who were going to work at the big firms (signing bonuses? plus, firms needed the space in the summer for interns, who were only then starting to be referred to as “summer associates”) or someone going to clerk for a federal judge, but a lot of us didn’t want to have to wait until November after we graduated to start working. My impression at the time was that law school faculty was vexed that many of us were not terrified of them by that point, nor were we afraid to devote less than 100% of our attention to whatever droll offerings were available at that point.

                Then again, I was not a quasi Ivy Leaguer like the Senator and his posse (all good people, I might add), so the faculty saw me as someone whose opinion was not exactly valued. Que sera.

          • Hell , I went to the Wally George at Mercer and we were even terrified of Sentell. Dude cast a long shadow.

        • 81Dog

          It wasn’t exactly a pleasure, but it was entertaining (for law school. I wouldn’t skip a chance to see Seinfeld live just so I could sit through one more RPS, Jr. lecture). I honestly did take it just for the experience. Anyone who knows me, knows that is somewhat out of character for me, but it was interesting.

    • I was in a different section first year. Never took a class from him.

    • Soccer Dawg

      “Last time you recall..” Sentell was a hoot. Helped me get an offer for Federal Judicial Clerkship.Good to see Foley “hoisted on his own petard.”

  3. Bright Idea

    Kudos to SC AD Ray Tanner for not folding while the governor was clearly on not on board. Kudos to Gov. Haley for not strongarming Tanner when she could have politicized the hurricane. Tanner’s being patient prevented a Florida/LSU scenario. That’s why coaches still make the best ADs.

    • Macallanlover

      All true, as it turned out, and I know we mostly focus on results. But Tanner took a do or die approach himself and, as late as Saturday, there was still a reasonable chance the game wouldn’t get played on Sunday. All turned out well but I wouldn’t praise Tanner for putting all his chips on everything going well from Mother Nature. Again, an executive should have backup plans and contingencies worked out in advance, Columbia was much more in harm’s way than Gainesville ever was. There have been enough weather and disaster related cancellations/alterations in recent memory to have decided options well in advance when heads are much clearer.

      • Bright Idea

        True but Tanner knew the game could be called off Saturday before Georgia’s team left Athens if necessary so it wasn’t a gamble on the weather. The close proximity for travel was a luxury that LSU and Florida did not have so Tanner played his cards right without panicking so I praise Tanner for being patient and using common sense. If he had cancelled that game on Wednesday we would be calling him names like we are Foley. A plus is SC learned they can have a game without state troopers if circumstances dictate. The truth is there are no good backup plans for this situation, so try your best to play, which Foley did not do.

  4. 81Dog

    Bottom line: Foley tried to strong arm everyone, and ended up with cards somewhat less high than he assumed he had. Why would any of the other schools help him out of the hole he dug for himself, especially UGA, and especially UGA when we dug ourselves out of our own predicament by taking what appeared to be the least bad of several less than attractive options. Foley didn’t want to play Sunday because it didn’t suit him? C’est le guerre, Jeremy. How’d that work out for you?

    LSU is still getting screwed somewhat on the schedule restructuring. And, it was all avoidable, save for the fact that Foley seems shocked, shocked, I tell you, that everyone else in the SEC didn’t want to agree to do everything in the way he thought was best for him.

  5. jntiii

    If the requirement to play 8 games to participate in the championship game is a conference rule, not sure why Sankey would have to tell the ADs that, unless he just made the rule up under the circumstances. I don’t think he would have that authority, right?

    Foley’s attempt to publicly shame Alleva falls flat since he got them into this predicament in the first place. If there is a better option what is it, Jeremy? The problems with other solutions have been well documented in the press. This seems to be the best option other than LSU going to Gainesville for the 11/19 game. As far as that goes, I think LSU may regret the decision to go to Gainesville next year instead since it will add a road game (in front of a hostile crowd) to the schedule for the new coach. But, wouldn’t it be interesting if both teams are playing to get into the SEC championship game.

  6. St. Johns Dawg

    Both sides look bad for lack of preparation and ego. And wasn’t this the same LSU that was considering a shutdown of the football program as a political move due to horrific deficits to the Louisiana budget? Clearly the LSU AD decided to protect the revenue at all costs once Foley decided UF wasn’t playing on Sunday or Monday.

  7. JS

    I really would like to see evidence that the rule requiring teams to play a full schedule to be eligible for the SECC existed last week. It is extremely hard for me to believe that if that rule were in place (1) Florida wouldn’t have caved and played the game last Sunday or Monday or at LSU and (2) Sankey would have waited so long to publicize it when he and the ADs have been taking nonstop crap all week from the media/public crying foul over the perceived unfairness of both teams dodging an SEC opponent with no penalty. It either took them a week to read through all the regs and find it (and, to my knowledge, no one in the media found it either) or Sankey had to get a vote on it this week.

    • PTC DAWG

      Agree totally about the rule…I doubt it is there…

      • DawgPhan

        I imagine the SEC bylaw are a lot like the iOS terms of service…anyone actually read all that?

        I am sure these ADs are just scrolling to the bottom and clicking agree to get to the part where they get the check.

      • W Cobb Dawg

        I have strong doubts any of the A.D.s actually know sec rules. Heck, McG wouldn’t bother to read the Ludicris contract.

  8. I honestly don’t blame Alleva for taking the stand he did after Sankey let Foley take the stand he did last week. However, have you seen LSU’s road schedule next year now? @Florida, @ Alabama, @ Ole Miss, @Miss St, @ Tennessee, AND a neutral site against BYU!!!

  9. I guess because there is such animosity now, they’ll have to settle things by canceling their annual series.:\

  10. PTC DAWG

    They should have played Oct 22

  11. ADGM will be first in line to cede control to Sankey.

    • 81Dog

      He will do that only if his dark master, who must not be named, allows it to be so. I doubt Greg puts ketchup on a hamburger without checking with The Man.

  12. If it’s so easy to flip-flop the home-and-home, can we have a our Auburn home games back on odd years now? I’m sure Greg is on the mother.

    • 81Dog

      didn’t that flip flop happen because we asked for it in the first place, to even out our own home schedule? So we wouldn’t go 5 or 6 weeks some years without a home game?

      • Debby Balcer

        No it happened when they added Mizzou and A&M to the schedule and both Auburn and UGA would like it to be reversed. They play both Alabama and us away or home we we have them and GT on the same year.

  13. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    How many athletic directors are willing to cede that kind of control to Greg Sankey?”

    I don’t believe the only solution is to let Greg be the Imperial Wizard who makes all the decisions. To start, you now have one AD able to cancel a game unilaterally which gives that person way more power than he needs without giving up some on the other side. In the end, if the ADs and Presidents can think about what makes sense and cooperate and everyone knows the rules maybe a reasonable protocol can be reached. Good luck with that, I guess, but in the abstract it sounds nice.

    I was a Sentell scholar, and he was hilarious, but not the funniest professor I ever had. That would be Vaughan Ball who probably wasn’t around when most of you were there. He had a dead pan delivery like Ben Stein (Bueller? Bueller?..) so most of us were napping, including me. But I was fortunate to sit next to a guy who was listening, and he was laughing so I asked him what was so funny and he told me to just listen. It was wry, somewhat dark humor, but consistently funny. I took as many of his classes as I could of his just to have something to look forward to. And did well in all of them

    • Mary Kate Danaher

      I remember Vaughan Ball. Glad to know I’m not the only old timer around here. Remember Colonel Murray?

      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        I know the name, but never had him for a class.

      • 81Dog

        Buddy of mine had Crystal Ball for both Civil Procedure and Evidence. The bar review courses on those subjects taught him about 99% what he knew about them for the bar. VB was widely considered a national authority on evidence, but I think he had kind of pulled a Spurrier at South Carolina and retired about 10 years before he made it official.

  14. Mike

    The Florida hate is strong in this thread. LSU comes off as the bad guy. All that said the game could have and should have been played Sunday.

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