GAINESVILLE (AP) — Florida expects to know what will happen with its postponed season opener in the next two days.
The Gators don’t need nearly as much time to decide what to do about the suspensions of receiver Demarcus Robinson and defensive tackles Darious Cummings and Jay-nard Bostwick.READ MORE: Suspected Shoplifter Shot By Police After Pulling Weapon At The Falls Shopping Center In SW Miami-Dade
Florida coach Will Muschamp reinstated Robinson, Cummings and Bostwick on Monday, saying they would play Saturday against Eastern Michigan (1-0). So their punishment essentially lasted 10 seconds.
Muschamp could have kept their suspensions in place against Eastern Michigan or said they would be suspended against Idaho if the game is rescheduled. He did neither.
“They will be back this week with us,” he said. “Not just as far as the suspension of a game, but they’ve handled a lot of other things for me.”
Asked specifically if the players still would be suspended if the Vandals return to Gainesville, Muschamp responded, “I can’t even answer that question. No. 1, we don’t know the situation of the game right now.”
The game was postponed Saturday night because of unsafe field conditions following heavy rain.
Florida Field became unplayable after hours of downpours. The season opener for both teams started after a nearly three-hour lightning delay — and then stopped after 10 seconds. Valdez Showers returned the opening kickoff 64 yards, giving Florida’s offense the ball on the 14-yard line. But more lightning was detected around the stadium, and the game was halted for good.
Game officials, athletic directors and the Southeastern Conference offered four possible outcomes:
The teams could resume the game at a later date. They could end the game with a determined final score. They could forfeit the game. Or they could declare a “no contest.”
“Those are the things that are being discussed,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said Monday. “There’s a lot of things that go into football scheduling and what’s in the best interest of your football team and your fans and the entire program. That’s how I work things around here. I like to get a lot of input from a lot of different people and then make a decision. That’s what we’re in the process of doing right now.”READ MORE: CDC's New Mask Mandate Encourages People To Get COVID Vaccinations
Both teams have an open date on Saturday, Oct. 25. But it’s unclear whether they would be willing to play then.
Especially Florida, which would be in the middle of a tough stretch of games in the Southeastern Conference. The Gators play Kentucky, at Alabama, at Tennessee, LSU and Missouri before the off week and then face Georgia in Jacksonville. The Bulldogs have won three in a row in the series and also have a bye week before the rivalry game.
“I don’t have any preference either way,” Muschamp said. “I’m going to what I’m supposed to do and that’s to help coach and develop this football team and that’s really all I can do right now.”
Idaho coach Paul Petrino suggested on the Sun Belt Conference teleconference Monday that the game could be rescheduled for early December, which would allow both teams to keep the October open week.
Financial implications are the most complicated aspect of deciding what to do.
Florida agreed to pay Idaho $975,000 for the game. Small schools like Idaho schedule pay-for-play games to fund athletic programs. Big schools like Florida shell out big bucks to fill out 12-game schedules and usually guarantee wins.
The Gators don’t want to pay for a game that never happened and probably don’t want to issue refunds or credits for the nearly 90,000 tickets sold. And there surely would be ticketing issues since so many of those were soaked or maybe lost.
“We’re trying to figure out all those things right now,” Foley said. “Again, when we come forward with whatever decision we come forward with, we’re going to have answers to everything financially, dates, tickets, reasons, all those sort of things. We’re just not there yet.”
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