I’m sure you’ve heard it by now.
Hurricane Matthew was a Category 4 storm that packed a powerful punch and stirred up a lot of drama in the SEC. The UF vs LSU game was impacted by the storm and was postponed and moved to November 19th, next Saturday.
Heads butted, as coaches and SEC big names tried to figure out how to best solve the issue (for a complete breakdown of the events, click here to see my previous Fresh U article on the whole situation).
Long story short, Florida seemed to be the one to step up and solve the problem, by giving up two home games this season and agreeing to play at LSU on the 19th.
From the start, LSU appeared to be the difficult party that was failing to work something out, in Jeremy Foley’s words:
“LSU had drawn a line in the sand and was refusing to consider any other options presented except those consistent with the line they had drawn.”
As the game draws near, there’s no doubt that tensions are going to be running high in Death Valley next Saturday. But with new developments regarding a LSU email chain uncovered through a public records request, tension seems to grown even more as Gator Nation tries to stay on the high road.
Recently, an email chain within the LSU Athletic Department surfaced, and it screamed one thing:
LSU AD Joe Alleva, started the email chain saying: “This is a joke,” to Communications Director, Michael Bonnette. Board of Supervisors member, Blake Chatelain, jumped in replying: “Florida would want to play as much as us…Would they not?”
Alleva fired back:
"No way if they lost they would lose the east. Their schedule is easier than Tennessee if they wanted to play we would be playing here or there."
Alleva clearly failed to remember the rule that if the Gators did in fact not play all eight games, they would not be eligible to play in the SEC Championship in Atlanta.
UF Student, Kyle Stoughton spoke with Fresh U back when I wrote the first article at the initial cancellation of the game. And as we followed up with him after the email developments, Stoughton doesn’t waiver in support for his school:
"I think that Alleva's treatment of the situation was inconsiderate in regards to the safety of players and their families. It's frustrating to see an AD at odds with what was intended to serve players and their families in the midst of a hurricane. After learning more about the situation, I can't really place any blame on UF because of the way Alleva was shoving the game down our throats. Our AD and coach[es] did the best they could to care for our players."
Christina Clement, another UF Student who also spoke to Fresh U at the initial break of the LSU drama, finds the email chain disappointing and proof of LSU’s true feelings and intentions:
"I think the chain emails makes [Joe Alleva] and those in the department look like they are unsupported and uncooperative. I think the chain emails are inappropriate and a poor reflection on their athletic department and leadership."
This type of talk just doesn’t seem appropriate or professional and in some sense, displays a lack of knowledge around the realities of the situation. Even more concerning is that the individuals involved at LSU are supposed to be upholding the integrity of a football program in the midst of drama. USA Today put it perfectly:
"Though common on message boards on Twitter, that kind of talk is fairly stunning coming from the top athletics official at LSU, especially after he had been in conversations for several days with Foley and the SEC office."
After the heat he took following Les Miles’ firing, Alleva earned himself a not-so-good reputation. In fact, when it was first reported that Alleva was considering firing Miles in 2015, CBS Sports released an article titled: LSU Coach Les Miles deserves better than AD Joe Alleva’s ineptitude.
So, this chain doesn’t seem to help out an AD with an already struggling reputation.
But LSU isn’t taking the heat for all of this alone. While UF was able to stay relatively out of firing range because they ultimately agreed to play the game at LSU, proving they weren’t dodging the game, the SEC has not been so lucky. Sources have fired off on the SEC for how they handled the situation. SBNation commented that the SEC should never have let the drama play out in public and USA Today suggests that the email chain makes the SEC look like they did a “poor job managing the situation and communicating concerns to both sides.”
Stoughton agrees that the whole situation doesn’t make the SEC look good:
"The entire situation makes LSU and the SEC office look weak. It's the SEC's job to look out for the best interests of the athletes in their conference, and by not stepping in to create a fair scenario to play the game they have lost some credibility in my eyes and likely in most of the nation's eyes."
Gator Fans are not holding back about how this whole debacle makes them feel. Clement, who is a senior, is extremely disappointed she won’t be able to make the game now:
"I will not be going to the game because it is inconvenient and I can't make the trip on such a short weekend. I am upset about losing [two] home games my senior year at UF."
On the contrary, Freshman Joy Bourgeois is upset about the situation this year, but she has a lot to look forward to since she has more time at UF. The next two LSU games that will be played in the coming years will be at home for her as a result of the compromise:
"I do not plan to attend the game this year since it is now away… I am disappointed to have lost two home football games my freshman year, but I look forward to our home schedule next year as we will finally host LSU."
So if you thought the controversy was over, you were wrong.
Whichever side you’re on, there’s no denying this will be a game with high emotions.
Everything will be left on the field.
Tigers and Gators.
And the SEC.
See you there.