It's finally over.
After a week of bickering, grandstanding, speculating and name-calling, Florida and LSU will actually play each other on the football field this season. As the SEC announced earlier today, Florida will travel to Baton Rouge on Nov. 19 to play its "home game" against LSU. That means Florida loses a revenue monster of a home game, due to Hurricane Matthew, while LSU gets to keep all of its home games -- just like athletic director Joe Alleva said the Tigers would.
There was way too much talking and way too much drama, and not enough action until today. From Florida and LSU to the SEC, this entire situation was botched when no one had an official contingency plan last Tuesday before the postponement was announced. Now, all those other schools -- most notably Tennessee -- and fans can breathe a sigh of relief after the adults at the table took care of business.
The league also announced that SEC commissioner Greg Sankey will have more authority to determine the date and location for future games that are either postponed or interrupted. Yes, this was a must after the standoff between Alleva and Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley.
On paper, you'd initially think LSU got the better end of this deal and Florida caved -- after all the speculation that the team was too scared to play the Tigers last week. But if you dive into all of this, both programs scored victories.
For LSU, the Tigers get to keep a home game they desperately needed from a revenue standpoint, especially with the devastating flooding that ravaged the Baton Rouge area in August. The town absolutely needed the financial help. The Tigers also scored in the sense that they play the now-18th-ranked Gators at home. Anytime you can get an SEC opponent at home, you win. Plus, this is now a major recruiting weekend for the Tigers.
You know what else the Tigers could gain from this game being moved back to Nov. 19? How about a healthier Leonard Fournette? He wasn't going to play in Gainesville last week, and he isn't expected to play this weekend against Southern Miss. In a month, Fournette could be back from his debilitating ankle injury.
However, having to play Florida later in the season could be tough for the Tigers, no matter where this game is played. And that could be damaging to Ed Orgeron's chances of shedding the interim tag at LSU. He'll now try to fully replace Les Miles by ending the season against Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M all in a row. Arkansas and Texas A&M were already on the road, but LSU will have to play A&M five days after playing what should be a physical game with the Gators -- not South Alabama.
Coach O will probably have to run the table to remain LSU's head coach. This schedule, which also features Ole Miss next week, would be tough for any coach to survive unscathed.
And if this program is in the market for a new head coach, that head coach will begin his LSU tenure on the road against BYU (in Houston), Mississippi State, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and Tennessee. Good luck.
As for the Gators, they have to play at LSU before traveling to Tallahassee to play Florida State. Boosters can't be happy with just five home games this year, and Florida is going to lose the valuable home revenue that LSU's administration was hell bent on preserving. Florida already lost one recruiting weekend; now it trades its valuable recruiting weekend to LSU, which will really sting.
It hurts Florida now, but this team could also be healthier, especially with quarterback Luke Del Rio (knee). Florida will also greatly benefit from this in 2017 and 2018 because LSU must now play in Gainesville in back-to-back seasons ... likely with a new head coach. Florida's 2017 schedule looks even more manageable with a home schedule that now features Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M and Florida State.
With LSU at home in 2018, in the long run, this wasn't a bad compromise for Florida.
The great news is that the 2016 Florida-LSU game is going to be played. It might mean everything, it might mean nothing, but it'll be played, and that's a win for everyone. How we got here was nauseating, and we'll see over the next year if all of this was really worth it for either side.