With discussions ongoing and no resolution expected until Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest, the athletic departments of the Florida Gators and Idaho Vandals are considering a number of options after the season opening showdown between the teams scheduled for Saturday was delayed and then suspended due to weather.
The primary options being discussed are either rescheduling the game this season or canceling it outright, declaring it a no contest without a victor.
However, within each of those options are a number of variables that must be considered.
RESCHEDULING THE GAME
The Gators and Vandals both possess an open week on Oct. 25, which would make moving the game to that date a no-brainer, right? Wrong.
The Oct. 25 bye week is immensely important for both programs.
Florida shares the off week with Georgia as both teams use both to rest and spend more time preparing for their annual neutral-site rivalry game in Jacksonville, Florida. UF giving up the week would not only put it at a disadvantage in one of its most important games of the year but also mean that the Gators would be playing nine-straight games to conclude the season.
Similarly, the bye week is at a strategic time for Idaho, which would otherwise play 11 consecutive games without a break if the contest was moved to Oct. 25.
The Idaho Statesman’s Dan Southorn reported Monday that the teams are also considering rescheduling the game for December, after what would otherwise be the conclusion of the teams’ regular-season schedule.
The Gators and Vandals could decide to play on Dec. 6 or Dec. 13; however, neither date is exactly ideal for Florida.
The 2014 SEC Championship is scheduled for Dec. 6, and UF hopes to be in contention for the league crown this season. In theory, the schools could decide to play that day and cancel the game again if Florida has that conflict.
Whether the Gators are involved in that game or not, Florida should be back in the bowl picture and scheduling a game on Dec. 13 would severely cut into its off time.
CANCELING THE GAME
In a perfect world, the game would be rescheduled and everything would be square but want-to and feasibility are completely different animals.
Should Florida and Idaho be unable to come to a resolution about playing the game on another date in 2014, the schools will have to make an agreement on how to settle the unfulfilled contract.
The Gators planned to pay the Vandals $975,000 to travel 2,700 miles and play in Gainesville. However, that sum is not due until Feb. 1, 2015, according to UF athletic director Jeremy Foley, and the school would certainly like to avoid making that payment after missing out on stadium revenues and refunding the tickets sold for the game.
“There’s a lot of things that go into football scheduling. You take what’s in the best interest of your football team, obviously your fans, the entire program. I like to get a lot of input from a lot of different people and make a decision. That’s the process we’re going through right now,” Foley said Monday.
The schools would likely try to meet in the middle with Florida potentially paying Idaho’s travel expenses and a portion of the amount owed. There could also be an agreement – handshake or otherwise – to attempt and schedule a game in a future season.
According to CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd, the $975,000 guaranteed to the Vandals equates to approximately one-quarter of its football budget for the 2014 campaign.
WHY NOT SUNDAY?
One of the most-asked questions about the cancellation is why the Gators did not attempt and get the game played the following day, a scenario that appears logical but is also the most logistically difficult to execute.
Here are just some of the reasons why playing the game Sunday as not an option:
» In order to use Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida would have been forced to fill the facility with normal game day staff and security, all on short notice on a holiday weekend.
» The decision to play Sunday likely would have needed to be made late Saturday night, after the game was canceled in part due to the unplayable condition of Florida Field. There is no guarantee that it would have been in good enough shape to play on Sunday, especially for an early-afternoon kickoff.
» The Vandals were planning to fly home after the game and did not have hotel rooms reserved for the night. The game did not get canceled until nearly 11 p.m.
» Idaho had to fly back across the country and there was no guarantee its charter flight would have been available.