Happy Friday, everyone. We have plenty of Alabama stuff for you with the big road game in Fayetteville tomorrow, but we start with the big news in the conference. The LSU-Florida game has been canceled due to Hurricane Matthew:
The SEC, LSU and Florida discussed other options for the game, including playing the game at an alternate site or in Baton Rouge, but decided it was in the best interest of all parties to postpone the game. As for the possibility of the game being played later in the season, the two teams have different bye weeks (Florida on Oct. 22, LSU on Oct. 29), but could potentially work on buyout options for their respective Nov. 19 nonconference games with Presbyterian and South Alabama to play the conference game instead.
Postponing a game in the face of a hurricane is a prudent thing to do. LSU seems to have a different version of the events, however:
LSU offered a Florida a slew of things, Alleva said. The Tigers offered to host the game on Saturday or Sunday and would have hosted it on Monday, too, he said. They offered to provide transportation to Florida to Baton Rouge or a neutral site.
They offered to play the game in Gainesville on Sunday, when the hurricane would be long through the area. Also in the path of the storm is the Georgia-South Carolina game in Columbia, South Carolina. That game was moved to Sunday, the SEC office announced Thursday night.
"I suggested we play the game on Sunday in front of nobody if there was no police available," Alleva said.
Florida declined all of LSU’s options.
Well, that's interesting, Last season, South Carolina agreed to make a much longer journey to Baton Rouge in order to get the game in while Columbia was flooded. It is understandable that Florida didn't want to lose a home game, and last minute travel plans can be difficult.
Still, there are those who will point to the fact that taking the week off will allow Florida an extra bye week to heal a banged-up roster, and avoid playing the Tigers without QB Luke Del Rio, to suggest that Florida refused LSU's offers for nefarious reasons.
As far as rescheduling the game goes, that may prove difficult as well:
LSU surely would rather not play three straight league games on the road, especially considering the last one, against the Aggies, is during a shortened week. It also would mean giving up a home game and losing revenue for the school and the city.
So the Tigers are likely to push for a cancellation of the game.
Like Florida, LSU does not want to lose a home game. In addition, playing the game on November 19 would have the Tigers playing on the road at Arkansas, Florida, and the Aggies in a twelve-day period. It's understandable that LSU would be resistant to this scenario after seemingly bending over backwards to try and get the game in this weekend.
So, if the game gets canceled, what would that mean for the SEC race?
Here's the SEC response to my inquiry about scenarios if LSU-UF isn't made up. So 6-1 UF would go to ATL over 6-2 UT. pic.twitter.com/n4qvQin2hW— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_AJC) October 6, 2016
This is a plausible scenario and is shaping up to be one whale of a controversy. Florida has four winnable games left on the SEC slate: home vs. Mizzou, UGA in Jacksonville, at Arkansas, and home vs. South Carolina. Meanwhile, a Tennessee team that barely escaped a bad UGA team and Appalachian State, and struggled mightily with the Ohio Bobcats, is very likely to lose its next two games against Texas A&M and Alabama.
Butch knows it, too:
Butch Jones on @3HL1045 talking Florida-LSU: "They have to play that football game ... I know the SEC will do the right thing."— @GrantRamey (@GrantRamey) October 6, 2016
Right now I picture Butch channeling his inner Dustin Hoffman, pacing nervously and mumbling:
"They have to play that football game. Definitely gotta play that football game. Of course we have tapioca pudding for dessert. They definitely have to play that football game..."
One particularly funny scenario from that CBS link has the SEC forcing a make-up date on December 3, the same day as the SEC Championship game, "depending on where the teams are in the standings."
"Sorry, Butch. We'd love to be able to make up that LSU game, but we have to be in Atlanta. See ya next year!"
If that happens Knoxville might, mercifully, implode.
All jokes aside, football games are the least of our concerns in the face of a natural disaster. Those in the path of the storm, be smart and be safe.
Thankfully, the weather forecast is perfect for football tomorrow night in Fayetteville:
Alabama at Arkansas:
Of course, one of the biggest differences between the Ole Miss game and the other four was that it was the only true road game Alabama has played this year (USC was a neutral site). This week's game against Arkansas is on the road, and it's also the beginning of what should be Alabama's most difficult stretch of the season.
All offseason, this has been the four-game stretch circled for No. 1 Alabama as the treacherous portion of a road back to the College Football Playoff for the defending champion Crimson Tide. Saturday begins a five-week stretch in which undefeated Alabama plays at Arkansas, at Tennessee, hosts Texas A&M, and plays at LSU after the bye week.
Indeed, we have reached the critical stretch run of SEC play that will define the season. Realistically, the next three weeks should be progressively more difficult, but the Tide cannot afford to overlook Arkansas. They are dangerous enough to spring the upset if Alabama doesn't play to its standard.
Saban said Alabama really liked Jalen Hurts during the recruiting process. He said that while Alabama is going to always want a quarterback who can play within the parameters of a pro-style offense but that the Tide also wants a guy who can make plays with his athleticism. Saban likes the fact Hurts hasn't turned the ball over and doesn't get flustered when things don't go his way. Saban added that Hurts doesn't seem to covet the attention.
Jalen's demeanor was undoubtedly a major factor in his winning the job. He seems unflappable. Hopefully that continues in Fayetteville, along with the synergy he seemed to find with Calvin Ridley in the second half of the Kentucky game. It appears that ArDarius Stewart will be back on the field Saturday as well, though that isn't certain.
It's clear Sprinkle has Alabama's attention. But here's the thing: Alabama's own tight end, O.J. Howard, is the better NFL prospect. In fact, Howard is widely considered the best player at his position entering the 2017 draft. At times, it's hard to believe that because he often gets lost in the crowd in Crimson Tide coordinator Lane Kiffin's offense, which relies heavily on three-receiver sets.
Arkansas runs an offense that looks an awful lot like LSU and the Alabama teams of yore, heavy on I-formation, play action passes, and tight ends running down the seam. Last season it was Hunter Henry reaping the benefits, this year Jeremy Sprinkle. Alabama's linebackers will have to do a great job reading keys in this one lest Sprinkle run free behind them. Hopefully Lane finds a way to get O.J. more involved as the season goes along.
So, the point spread is running about two touchdowns. I have Alabama taking this one 34-17. What say you? Vote and give us your score in the comments.
More Alabama football:
As tempted as I am to go with Clemson here, I have to pick Alabama. Sure, playing at Arkansas and at Tennessee the next two Saturdays is no cakewalk, but getting their two toughest remaining games out of the way pronto—before there's any chance of getting fatigued or injuries piling up—is a bonus for the Tide. After Oct. 15, Alabama should cruise, and I still think Florida State in Tallahassee will be at least a bit of a challenge for Dabo and Co.
But maybe it isn’t: When Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator of the Browns and Bill Belichick was Cleveland’s head coach, the two used to go to Eagles and Ringo Starr concerts together. And they’re both pretty good at their jobs now, so, who knows, give it a shot — go see John Mayer or something with your work friends.
Former Alabama football player Cole Harvey on Tuesday filed lawsuit over brain injuries suffered while part of the Crimson Tide program. The University of Alabama has governmental immunity, so the suit names the NCAA and SEC because it "failed to adopt or implement adequate concussion management safety protocols or return to play guidelines," reads the suit filed in federal court.
Coach Avery doing work:
Jones, a 6-foot-7, 185-pound wing from Hale County High School -- about 10 miles away from Tuscaloosa -- announced his commitment to the Crimson Tide at a school ceremony. He becomes the first Alabama commitment for this class. Jones is a three-star recruit in the 247Sports composite rankings, but a four-star in 247Sports individual and Rivals rankings.
The 6-foot-9, 230-pound Reese is a four-star versatile forward who can play down low or stretch his game out to the 3-point line.
These are two key in-state recruits for an Alabama program that is clearly headed in the right direction. This year's team looks significantly deeper and more talented overall than those of the past couple of seasons. The biggest fish, John Petty out of Huntsville, is still in play, though beating Kentucky for his services will be difficult. #BuckleUp
That's about it for today. Have a great weekend.