Why Florida v. Idaho could NOT be played the same weekend and WILL be rescheduled (wrong)
On Saturday August 30, 2014, the University of Florida Gators were set to play a game against the University of
Idaho Vandals, at 7 p.m. Severe weather was in the area, so officials governing both schools decided to temporarily suspend the game, which ultimately spanned 2-hours and 48-minutes. The game finally kicked off at 9:50 p.m.
Florida’s (ironically named) Valdez Showers charged the rain-soaked crowd in the (even better named) field known as the Swamp, with a 64-yard kickoff return, giving the Gators great field position at Idaho’s 14-yard-line. But then more lightning was detected nearby. The secondary flurries of lightning strikes were within 8 miles of the stadium, causing the game to be “terminated” about 50 minutes later.
In addition to the prejudice of the late hour, the heavily pouring rain and the “cold” players, the field was determined to be ultimately unsafe and unplayable. Coach Muschamp later confirmed, “After long discussions with the head referee, it was determined that the field conditions were too dangerous.”
Florida issued this statement to fans and ticket holders:
Idaho frequently gets paid to visit teams in Florida and in the Southeastern Conference. When not on the road, Idaho projects less than $500,000 in ticket revenue at home, so it can make double its yearly ticket income in just one Saturday appearance, like it staked to gain playing Florida. Meanwhile, Florida’s football program generated a profit of $51,071,589 last season- a bad season.
In 2013, Idaho received $850,000 from Mississippi for a 59-14 loss on October 26, 2013, and then got $950,000 from FSU. The FSU contract stated that if either party cancelled, it owed the other $2 million.
Idaho is set to pocket $3.75 million from four Southeastern Conference opponents between 2012-15, including the $975,000 from Florida and $1 million from Auburn next year, according to the Idaho Statesman.
The contract the universities entered into had a STANDARD provision like this:
Force majeure is Latin for “chance occurrence, unavoidable accident.” It basically allows a contractual “do over” or a contract to be entirely voided where risks developed which were beyond the reasonable control of a party- weather, otherwise called ‘Act of God,’ being a common ‘out.’ By league rule, a lightning strike within an eight-mile radius of the stadium requires a delay of no less than one hour. God made the contract void?
Indeed. Florida’s position will be that flooding and policies of the SEC and NCAA made the game impossible or impractical to play, excusing it from payout of the consideration- the $975,000.
Idaho MAY argue that, if it was a field problem such as a defect, it should get paid or that Florida did not reasonably make attempts to get the game in under other provisions of the contract and in accordance with applicable SEC and NCAA authority. The Idaho Vandals traveled more than 2,700 miles to face Florida and we don’t know what contingencies were required related to travel and alternative travel. I like their case here to fight for a payday if Florida tries to back-out.
Lawyers will sort it out. Expect the game to be replayed, as Florida isn’t going to easily give Idaho a freebie. Hurricane Katrina cancelled several games related to weather. All were rescheduled.
The schools now have the option to resume the game at a later date, terminate the game or declare it a “no contest.” Athletic directors from both schools, in consultation with the coaches, must agree on one of the options. “If the game is rescheduled, then it would be restarted as a new game,” Florida said in a statement. “That determination will be made and announced at a later time.”
The teams share a common bye week, on October 25 – the week before the Gators’ annual match-up rivalry game in Jacksonville against Georgia. If the game is played then, UF would play nine straight games to end the season and that isn’t the best option for Gator fans. At all.
Why play the game?
A 12 game season is standard and salaries are paid and promises are made based on every game being played to completion. Coaches are also paid based on incentives and players are judged on cumulative statistics. NFL careers are on the line, as are non-football jobs. Bowls are judged and pay-outs made based on wins and losses and far more money is at stake than $975,000. The $975,000 Idaho contact is only a fraction of Florida’s profit from that one weekend- profit it wants to capitalize. Even Vegas has a little stake in the game based on over/under totals and the like.
Unless one side or the other is entirely unreasonable, the game WILL likely be replayed during the bye-week or later in the season.
Florida reconstructed its field in 2012 and put in Celebration Bermuda Grass. It is a hardy grass and the drainage at Florida Field is good. It is hard to say why, or if, the field had a problem. However, water clearly is saturated and backed up on the field.
Some on twitter, including one notable professionally paid sports commentator and radio host, made a big deal about whether weather should matter:
So, Mr. Frangie is unwilling or unable to believe that the teams wouldn’t play on a wet field, in lightening, after hours of delay? Mr. Frangie is not a professional athlete and sits in a client controlled radio booth for his career. These athletes play for free, without workers compensation or any other restitution for injury. It is up to officials to regulate their safety. And the field was saturated. We must defer to those in charge.
And some opinions were even worse:
Puddles? Frank would put fans at risk and players in jeopardy of physical harm to get the game in? Remind me never to have him in a position of trust over anyone if that is the case. He can judge from his position indoors or on social media, and that is his prerogative, but there is much more to it than mere “puddles.”
Those weren’t puddles:
What Goes Into A Game?
I leave with one more Frank quote:
This was sent at 10:43 PM. The game ended after 10 PM. Again, I am not sure the extent of anything Frank has ever “managed,” other than a call board and a microphone, but this is a million dollar contract at stake. How many security officers need to be called in on Sunday? How many concession workers? Are the referees headed to Labor Day plans with their families? Flights? Hotel rooms? Meals? All of this cannot be arranged at 10 PM on a Saturday night, no matter how one thinks the “common sense world” would allow the Coach to simply hop on Kayak and book everything. Logic requires planning and structure, and these plans are made years in advance. It is a multi-million dollar event- not a radio show. You can’t just go with it.