LSU and Alleva are the Winners…For Now – From the Bird’s Nest
I called it on Monday.
When LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva made his definitive statement that LSU would have a home game on November 19th and, by doing so, drew a line in the sand, I had a feeling we were going to see Florida playing at LSU on that Saturday.
What made it obvious to me was what Alleva DIDN'T say. He didn't say it would be against South Alabama.
That same day on the "Sports Gap" with Scott Prather, I said it out loud. Florida would be coming to Tiger Stadium.
Yesterday, it was announced LSU and Florida would be buying out their games against South Alabama and Presbyterian, respectively, and the two SEC schools would meet at Tiger Stadium. A report from Florida said there is a stipulation the game not start past 2:30pm Central time. LSU will play in Gainesville next season, then the rotation will resume with LSU going back to Gainesville in 2018. (The winner here is CBS, which didn't have much to choose from on that date, when most of the league is playing out of conference. Expect them to jump on this one.)
While LSU fans celebrated, Florida fumed. The SEC office wasn't happy, either. And, LSU has been criticized by other outlets for their lack of cooperation.
Of course, everyone is now conveniently forgetting how incredibly accommodating LSU was willing to be to get the game played as originally scheduled in the first place. Then, it was outgoing Florida AD Jeremy Foley that played the part of the immovable mule, refusing to consider any option that wasn't playing in Gainesville on Saturday. Once all that played out, it was Alleva's turn Monday to play the part of Francis, the talking mule.
Tiger fans said, "good for you, Joe. Way to stand up for us." And, that's the first time in forever that Tiger fans have had something good to say about their Athletic Director. But the move has worked. Today, at least, no one wants to get rid of Alleva.
But has this victory come at a price to be paid later?
The SEC is the best and most powerful conference in America. And, yet, it seems as though the membership all gets along. Surely, there are disagreements. But they are worked out, usually for the betterment of the league as a whole. And, whatever conflicts or hard feelings arise, no one really hears about them, like they do in the publicly dysfunctional Big 12.
But not this time.
It is pretty obvious from comments from SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Foley, that the line in the sand drawn by Alleva wasn't appreciated. At all. And, they have, rightly or wrongly, created the perception LSU was a big problem in getting this game rescheduled. And, I'm willing to bet the rest of the SEC isn't happy the dispute became public, because that isn't the way they do business. Don't believe me? Tell me the last time athletic directors got testy with each other or the league office... in the media.
Alleva's stock among fans may have gone up in Baton Rouge, but his reputation has been damaged with his peers and the league office. He came off as petulant and angry and that posture doesn't play well. And while Foley will have ridden off into the sunset by the time this game is played, Alleva will still be around to feel the brunt of the league's frustration.
The embattled LSU Athletic Director wins today. LSU wins by having the game in Baton Rouge, avoiding what could have been three straight road games to close the season. But I can't help but feel as though, somewhere down the line, this is going to bite the AD and LSU in the long term.
If I'm right on this one as well, I'll start giving out lottery numbers.