How LSU blackmailed Florida into playing 2016 game in Baton Rouge


Two short days ago, Florida and LSU appeared to be at an impasse regarding the game they were supposed to play in Gainesville last Saturday, but got postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. Now, suddenly, the game is back on again- in Baton Rouge.

That’s a turn of events that can only be caused by a little something called blackmail.

Last week, the apparent breakdowns in negotiations between Florida and LSU led me to do some digging and write up what I knew about the situation at that point in time. “LSU ducks Florida and is unwilling to reschedule game” was the perfect title for it because… well, that’s exactly what happened. And yet I had no idea that the wildest was yet to come.

For archival purposes, let’s call that last piece “Part I.” Here is “Part II” of the story, as narrated by three of the same four sources I used to publish the first piece.

The trouble began when the SEC quietly informed both schools that they had to play each other if they wanted to be eligible for the SEC Championship Game. That’s totally understandable, as it evens the playing field for all schools involved in the race for Atlanta, as now each team has an equal amount of opportunities to theoretically lose. So with the SEC stepping in and dropping that on the table, the need for this game to be played rose exponentially

But LSU athletic director Joe Alleva had one fact on his side that Florida didn’t. And that fact is that the Tigers, put politely, have approximately a zero percent chance of making the SEC Championship Game. They’ve already lost to Auburn, so what do you think Alabama, Mississippi and Texas A&M are going to do to them? And of course on the other side of that coin is Florida- a team that with a Tennessee loss to Alabama tomorrow would control its own destiny to Atlanta.

So, armed with the knowledge that his opponent on the negotiation table needed to play this game and his team didn’t, Alleva then dangled the game in front of Florida’s face. Really now, he did it with an attitude of “Hey, Gators… look what I’ve got… yeah! SEC Championship Game eligibility! You want it?” Those aren’t the exact words Alleva used to Jeremy Foley, but it was little more than a slightly more mature way to convey the same message: We (LSU) have something you want, and we know how bad we really want it- or more appropriately, need it- and now we’re going to hold you hostage and you’re going to listen to our demands.

Honestly, now. Who does this?

And of course, Alleva’s demand was to play the game in Baton Rouge. The Tigers and Gators would both buy out their November 19 cupcake opponents in order to clear the date, but Alleva put his foot down. Us Tigers WILL play a home game on November 19. This is pure blackmail: do as we say or we tell the whole world you were unwilling to play the game you had to play in order to be eligible for the SEC Championship.

Here comes the fun. Foley pointed out that Florida was owed that home game as mandated by the Southeastern Conference. And Alleva responded that he didn’t care, adding the rough politician’s equivalent of, “hey, you guys are the ones who want this game so bad! We don’t need to be eligible for the SEC Championship because we’re not going to get there anyway.” Which was something that Florida knew well before Hurricane Matthew even hit, but that Alleva just had to remind them of in case Florida forgot who was controlling the negotiations.

Foley presented other options. Oh, how he tried. He pushed hard to host the Tigers on November 19, and Alleva said no. Per one of the sources walking me through the story, Foley even offered to help pay LSU a piece of the “lost revenue” that they didn’t deserve but that Alleva somehow thought his school was entitled to. (I’ve emailed the other two sources asking for a comment about if Foley really offered to help pay LSU for their lost revenue and am awaiting their responses as of publishing.) And Foley was willing to play LSU on December 3rd, which would mean pushing the SEC Championship Game back a week but would also mean that both teams would keep their November 19 cupcakes. The SEC didn’t love this option, but they were going to be willing to do it.

But knowing that he could, Alleva said no to everything Foley said. No sooner than Foley proposed a counter offer than Alleva responded with the word no.

And knowing that it was either give in to this guy’s demands or forfeit SEC Championship eligibility, Foley finally agreed. There was no other choice.

The media is going to portray and subsequently remember Alleva for his refusal to cooperate and compromise with Florida, but it’s even worse than just that. The tone in which Alleva spoke to Foley was condescending, arrogant and indicated that he was completely devoid of any feelings or thoughts for anybody else involved. Not even his own players. It’s as if Florida asking Alleva to play in Gainesville the way the conference asked them to was asking him to give up his first born child. In a cosmic sort of way, it’s funny because Alleva’s main worry about November 19 was about his team playing three SEC games in twelve days. It would be risking their health to play three SEC games in twelve days, said Alleva, so his idea of solving that problem was to have his players play three SEC games in twelve days.

Here’s the kicker. LSU didn’t even consider surrendering the 2017 home game against Florida. When Foley finally agreed to play this year in Baton Rouge, the offer for a swap was immediately thrown out onto the table. Florida will play at LSU in 2016 if LSU plays at Florida in 2017. Guess what our friend Alleva said to that?

That was the point where SEC had finally had enough of Alleva’s crying, and stepped in. The league office and Foley basically told Alleva to quit his whining and listen up. LSU will play at Florida in 2017 and that was the end of that. Alleva had succeeded in blackmailing Florida, but Florida will be getting the last laugh. With the exception of the season opener against Michigan, the entirety of the tough part of the Gators’ 2017 schedule will be played in the Swamp, as now Tennessee, Texas A&M, LSU and FSU will all come to the Swamp. And given that the Tigers’ 2016 season is already shot, they could use the home field advantage much more next year than this year. What are they playing for this year, anyway? An Outback Bowl berth?

That’s where the story ends… for now. The moral of the story is if your arguing opponent has something to lose that you don’t, all you have to do to get it is bitch and moan just long enough and you’ll get anything you want. That’s it. If Joe Alleva does his job with the intention of being a role model, he should be proud of himself now that he’s set the standard for how to act like a petulant child. Furthermore, Alleva was so near sighted in his petulance that he failed to see the long term impact of what he was doing. His stupidity will come back to bite him soon enough, as I’m sure his new coach is going to love making trips to the Swamp in each of his first two seasons as he’s trying to rebuild his program.

Lastly, I want to leave y’all with this: it’s going to work itself out in the end. We live in a world where everything has to be right now, now, now, not in five minutes or even in five seconds. We don’t think about later. And that was true in this particular situation, too. We were- as both ADs were- thinking about what was best now without regards to later. But when later comes, we’ll be OK with it. Nobody will complain about hosting LSU twice in a row when the time comes to actually do it. And because Alleva refused to think about later, he put his team in the position of having to travel to Florida in consecutive years where his program actually has a chance to accomplish something while smirking about “winning” a home game in a year in which his team’s biggest win might be… winning that home game.

Make no mistake, Joe Alleva did something shameful. But let’s revisit who came out on top of this exchange in a year or two.

17 thoughts on “How LSU blackmailed Florida into playing 2016 game in Baton Rouge

  1. Oh no. Here come the corndoggers again.

    Neil, can you have a quicker trigger finger with them this time? I don’t mind LSU fans sharing their thoughts but I do tend to mind overwhelming idiocy and that’s what we got a few days ago.

  2. UF gambled and wanted the game cancelled for a better path to the championship game, failed to be informed of the rules, got caught looking like jackasses and now have to suffer an avoidable scenario. Get over it.

  3. Foley did everything in his power to make sure the game was not played last weekend. Alleva offered to play in Baton Rouge or at a neutral site. Foley rejected. Alleva offered to play in The Swamp on either Saturday, Sunday or Monday with the team flying in the morning of the game and flying back out that evening so as not to take up hotel space that may be needed for evacuees from coastal areas. Foley said no. Its no secret that Florida had a number of key players injured that would not have been able to play last week. From LSU’s standpoint, Foley did not work in good faith on options to play the game last weekend.

    That’s why Alleva dug in his heels and drew a line in the sand about not giving up the bye week before the Alabama game and not giving up the Nov 19 home game. He knew the crap Foley was pulling with avoiding playing the game last weekend and wasn’t having it. Foley created this mess and the SEC sat back and allowed it to happen, so why should LSU give up $1.5 million buyout to South Alabama, $3-5 million in Nov 19 gate revenue, plus the $8-10 million economic impact that LSU home games have on the BR area because of the problem that Foley created himself. Plus caving to Foley’s demand of playing Nov 19 in the Swamp would put LSU finishing the season @Arkansas, @Florida then @Texas A&M on a short week for a Thursday night game.

    LSU still loses out on a home game and all that revenue thanks to Foley…its just deferred to next year instead.

  4. You should just admit your situation – there would be dignity in it.

    REALLY looking forward to seeing y’all 11/19 in Tiger Stadium.


  5. Not sure it was possible for anyone to be this stupid, but apparently, you are. You totally left out the part last week where LSU offered to play in Gainesville on Saturday, on Sunday and on Monday, and also offered to play the game in BR. I don’t blame Foley for not wanting to play in BR but what was wrong with Sunday or Monday? Why didn’t Foley want a neutral site instead of digging in his heels and saying “we’re playing it in Gainesville or nowhere?” Why was it all about “We can’t travel because our players’ families affected” and yet Florida’s soccer and volleyball teams had no problem being sent on the road to play?

    Furthermore, Florida still has a chance to win the East by playing this game. LSU doesn’t need this game because there’s no way the Tigers are winning the West without running the table. That’s not happening with Bama, Ole Miss and A&M still on the schedule. And now LSU has an extra SEC road game in 2017, which hampers its ability to win the West even if it had a team with the talent to do that next year (and that’s iffy, at best). On the flip side, Florida is set up for 2017 with an extra home game.

    If anything, your senile AD who once hired Ron Zook and Will Muschamp as head football coaches is the second-biggest culprit in all of this after the weak Greg Sankey. Now you’re not so ignorant.

  6. Foley first turned down every possible accomodation which forced the game to be delayed. LSU offered to fly in and out on game day, Sat or Sun or Mon; to play in an empty stadium; to play and fly UF anywhere, to house UF, whatever. Other teams nearby played. UF Soccer and Volleyball teams flew out to play.

    Foley bought his team time for QB & others to heal and was covered for game losses by insurance.

    Foley got the same treatment he gave.

  7. You guys are either delusional and/or mouth breathers. This whole situation was created by Foley and UF’s stance leading up to the storm’s “landfall.” There was plenty of time to arrive at an emergency plan of postponement. There has been ample example of “what-to-do” that it should have been an easy decision for Foley to make unless he had ulterior motives, and he did, and decided to slow play/dictate the inevitable until there was no option.

    Foley created this!! LSU has plenty of experience with storms and as a result, the task of re-scheduling games. LSU has proven that we know how to handle these situations whether it be our disaster or somebody else. UF should have followed the script and postponed the game for the following Monday…no excuses. None. If the storm aftermath dictated that Monday was not doable then Plan C would need to be figured out. Forced by backlash, the SEC suddenly pulls out the championship game bylaw, a week later. LSU proactively offered many options prior to the storm and Foley stood tall and shook his head NO. Now the game is important again, LSU will not give up a home game (Senior Night) and the financial implications of loss revenue to the university and the city because Foley had ulterior motives and chose this. Foley was in the power position prior to the storm but unfortunately the power position shifted to Baton Rouge the longer he drug his feet.

  8. Dear Mr. Schulman,

    I hate to continue to have to correct you but I must. I guess you feel that sensational journalism will get more eyeballs, and it usually will, doesn’t mean you are correct. What I am talking about is your headline “How LSU blackmailed Florida into playing the 2016 game in Baton Rouge!” You incorrectly are using the term “Blackmailed” to generate more sensationalism and more eyeballs to your comments. LSU didn’t “Blackmail” Florida to get the game moved to Baton Rouge, what LSU did was “Strong-Arm” Florida into playing the game in Baton Rouge. Blackmailing would basically mean “if you don’t do this, then I am going to let everyone know this dirty little secret about you.” For example if Alleva would have told Foley “Hey Jeremy if you don’t play the game in Baton Rouge this year than I am going to release those pictures we have of you kissing little boys on the mouth.” That would be called blackmailing Jeremy Foley if he didn’t want those pictures to go public. What Alleva did was say “Hey Foley we probably don’t have a realistic shot at getting to Atlanta this year considering the fact that we still have to play Ole Piss, Bama, Arky and TAMU and we already have once conference loss to Auburn it is going to be extremely tough this year. On the other hand you need to get past LSU and UGA to have a shot at Atlanta so your chances are much more realistic than ours. So since it is a rule that you can’t go to the SEC championship game unless you play a full compliment of 8 SEC games if you don’t switch the game to Baton Rouge on the 19th and no other option is doable “which no other SEC team was stepping in to help facilitate any other options” than basically Alleva and Foley by the balls and Alleva decided to squeeze! That is called “STRONG-ARMING” not Blackmail.

    Now why did Alleva “Strong-Arm” Foley? Well that is very obvious, Foley “and whomever else was involved in the decision” didn’t not want to play LSU last weekend because it was well publicized and documented that the Gators were really banged up on the defensive side of the ball, not to mention whether Del Rio was a go or not. On top of that LSU had just come off a record-setting offensive outing in an SEC game the week before and Coach O had finally gotten LSU’s offense clicking on all cylinders, whereas Florida came off and embarassing loss to Tenn 2 weeks prior to the LSU game and an extremely lack luster and worrisome game against perennial doormat Vandy. It is easy to surmise Foley, and whomever else was involved, would have liked to play LSU on a different weekend. So Foley took the chicken-shit way out of playing LSU last weekend in the hopes that they would play LSU at a more favorable time for Florida instead of taking the NUMEROUS options that were presented to him by Alleva which were; playing in Gainesville on Sunday or Monday, playing in Baton Rouge on Saturday or Sunday or playing at a neutral site on Saturday or Sunday. None of those options were taken because FOLEY “and whoever else was involved” absolutely didn’t want to play LSU last weekend if there were other options available which Foley “and whoever else was involved” was betting there would be!!! And they turned out to be right, but it doesn’t mean Foley wasn’t a chicken-shit because he was. It doesn’t mean he is chicken to play LSU because I don’t think he is. It just means he saw an out and took it to try and position the Gators in a better situation of playing LSU when the Gators hopefully aren’t so banged up not to mention they are going to get LSU after having to play Ole Piss, Bama and Arky not after just playing Mizzo and Auburn. When you start to put the facts down on paper it isn’t difficult to figure out that Foley didn’t want to play the game last weekend and made sure that it wasn’t going to happen. So can you really blame Alleva for “Strong-Arming” Foley? I don’t think so.

    Sometimes you have to cancel out all the noise and just look at the facts. The facts are and not disputable that LSU was in much better shape mentally, and especially physically, going into the game last week. Even Las Vegas had Florida at a home dog “-3” in the game if that lets you understand what was going on prior to the game. I highly doubt that LSU would be favored by 3 points in Gainesville if the Gators were healthy. So if you look at those facts it definitely behooved the Gators much more, to have what was essentially a bye week, to get healthy both mentally and physically for the remainder of its schedule considering the chances of Florida getting to Atlanta as opposed to LSU getting to Atlanta.

    So after how Foley just chicken-shitted out of the game last week Alleva, who was definitely in a position to “Strong-Arm” Foley, he did just that. What is that going to do is amp up the rivalry going forward and you can look for a very heated and spirited game on the 19th of November. The players are going to be amped up, the coaches are going to be amped up and the crazies in Death Valley are going to be amped up beyond belief. And with all the noise that is going around now about how LSU screwed Florida and how much more it will be re-lived the week leading up to the 19th, all I can say is WELCOME TO DEATH VALLEY BOYS!!! You want to see a hostile envioronment, you are about to get your wish when you go to Baton Rouge on the 19th!!! Laissez les bon temps roulez because it is going to get nuts on the bayou putting some Gators on the BBQ pit!!

  9. You realize, of course, 67 of Florida’s 67 counties (what you call parishes) were under the Governor’s emergency declaration? There were NO first responders available to staff the game because they were ALL on hurricane duty. There were NO hotel rooms to be had between a Miami and Tallahassee because they were filled with evacuees. The hotels in Tallahassee, where I live, were directing people even further west to Mobile and Pensacola. You may think yiu control your own destiny in the West but that’s because you haven’t played anyone yet and you still have to play bammer and aTm (to whom you WILL lose). So get down off that corn dog and realize your AD is an insufferable, arrogant prick who probably won’t be around to take the shit he’ll get for having to send the team to Gainesville two years in a row.

    1. You would think you Florida boys would be able to handle a little hurricane but I guess you can’t. You can argue all you want about the Governor’s emergency plans, but the simple facts are there were other games, including Miami’s game played on Saturday. But hey Gainesville is 73miles from the coast so I can see why you guys were so scared and wanted to take care your football team, funny thing though you didn’t have the same concern for the soccer team and volleyball teams that played that Saturday. Regarding having no rooms available, that is completely understandable Baton Rouge had that same issue when we played Tenn in 2006 that is why the Tenn team flew in and flew out that same day, and guess what that is the offer Joe Alleva made to Foley that LSU would fly in and out on the same day whether that would be Saturday or Sunday.

      Yes I don’t like having to play in Gainesville two years in a row that is a daunting task, that is why LSU made every offer it could to try and get the game played that weekend, they offered to play Saturday, Sunday and even Monday in Gainesville, but Foley and coaches would have none of it? Why because you guys were banged up and didn’t want to play considering you have a legitimate shot of going to Atlanta and you knew you were about to get your asses kicked by us!!! The facts are simple Foley and coaches didn’t want to play 2 weekends ago and you used the hurricane as an excuse not to!!! Instead your ONLY option that was given after the game was cancelled was to play in Gainesville on Nov. 19th forcing LSU to play Bama, Arky, UF and A&M all within 20 days with the last 3 games all on the road and in a 13day time frame. Hmmmmmmm I wonder why that was the ONLY option Foley presented, do you think it was because it was a distinct disadvantage to LSU meaning it would be a distinct advantage to Florida. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this out. LSU offered to play on Sat, Sun and Monday in Gainesville and fly in and out the same day so no hotel rooms were taken. LSU also offered to play in Baton Rouge Sat or Sun or at a neutral site. And what did Florida offer? Nov 19th and that was it. Pretty clear FLORIDA’s admins and coaches didn’t want to play LSU that weekend and if you thought you were going to win you would have found a way to play it that weekend!!!!

      Well it will be settled on Nov 19th, good luck because YOU ARE GOING TO NEED IT!! Ever you ever seen a pissed off Tiger? No, well good news you are about to!!!! LOL

  10. Ah, they old repetition trick. Repeat the same lie about it being possible to play in the aftermath of a hurricane and eventually people will believe it. It’s a classic.

    1. Gainesville PD Twitter feed showed a return to normal operations Oct 7th Friday.
      Gainesville FD Twitter feed showed search and rescue back home safe and sound Oct 8th Saturday.
      In all the controversy, I looked up available hotel space for Sunday night and got 64 hits on Expedia.
      With all of this, it’s hard to believe a Monday night game was not doable (if not Sunday).

    2. Ah glad to see that the intelligence level in Florida hasn’t risen any!!! LSU is the SUCCESSFUL blueprint on playing a football game despite inclement “a hurricane” weather. We have been forced to do it every way and we were successful. We had to cancel a game in Baton Rouge and go play at Arizona State giving up the home game, we had to move a game from Saturday to Monday “Tenn” because of a hurricane hitting the state and last we hosted South Carolina last year when they were forced to move because of a hurricane. So we have done it all and played the game that weekend. So it isn’t a lie it is the truth we have proved it the truth, please understand just because the truth hurts doesn’t make it any less the truth!!!

      So it could have been played but you were banged up and feared getting your asses handed to you so you used the hurricane to tuck that gator tail and run it truly is that simple!!

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