Florida head football coach Jim McElwain was hoping Saturday’s big clash against LSU would serve as a three-hour distraction for those with their minds on Hurricane Matthew. By early Thursday afternoon, news hit, per LSU, that the game had been postponed, putting a halt to McElwain’s desire to play.
It’s an unfortunate but understood decision, as Matthew has restrengthened to a Category 4 hurricane and is expected to affect the Gainesville, Florida, area with torrential rain and triple-digit winds. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott asked all residents to evacuate, according to CNBC.
The obvious answer in a situation like this is to look out for the safety of all. Football is secondary.
Still, a postponement like this hurts from a recruiting perspective. Obviously, it hurts Florida as the home team that was preparing for a big recruiting weekend. But it also will hurt LSU, a team that is using every game—home and away—as an opportunity to show itself under interim head coach Ed Orgeron.
For the Gators, the decision was a hit, as it would have been a great time to sell itself to a few uncommitted targets. Coveted Detroit wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones was expected to be in Gainesville on an official visit, making a return trip after visiting the campus this summer.
Landing a stud like Peoples-Jones would be huge for Florida’s offense. Missing out on the potential for recruiting defensive stars, however, may be the biggest blow for the Gators. Anthony Hines III, the nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker, was planning to make the trip for an official visit. Defensive end LaBryan Ray, a 4-star talent, was also scheduled to be in Gainesville for an official.
There’s nothing like an official visit to give an uncommitted athlete the full experience of being at—and potentially playing for—a program. Now, the question is will Peoples-Jones, Hines and Ray look to reschedule officials to Florida, or will they move on to another school?
The decision hurts Florida, but it also hurts LSU—even as the road team. There would have been multiple athletes tuning in to see how the Tigers handled a hostile environment with Orgeron—and not Les Miles—running the show.
LSU has 19 commitments and has lost only one pledge, junior college wide receiver Stephen Guidry, since Miles was relieved of his head coaching duties. An outstanding effort against Florida would have been much-needed confidence for LSU’s program and the perfect opportunity for recruits to see how Orgeron coaches in a game of that magnitude.
According to LSU’s official website, both the Tigers and the Gators “will work to reschedule” the game later this year. The schools do not have a common open date for the remainder of the 2016 season, but the SEC is looking to work with both schools.
It will be great for the fans if the game ultimately lands a makeup date. Matthew’s anticipated arrival is an unfortunate turn of events, for one team wanted to show what its program and campus was all about, while another team is using every game as a dress rehearsal of sorts to keep the talent of the future interested.
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Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News