By Tiger Rag News Service
Header: Here’s a transcript of what LSU AD Joe Alleva and interim coach Ed Orgeron said about the cancellation of this weekend’s LSU/Florida game at a press conference Thursday
LSU AD JOE ALLEVA
JOE ALLEVA: Thank you all for coming. First my thoughts and prayers go out to all the people in Florida. Here in Louisiana, we know what it’s like to go through floods and natural disasters. So our prayers go out to all the people in Florida and our hopes that they are safe and make it through this hurricane well.
I just wanted our fans to know and everyone to know, that LSU made every attempt to try to play this game. We offered to go to Gainesville on Sunday. We offered to fly in there Sunday morning, play the game and fly back Sunday night. We offered the opportunity for them to come here Saturday or Sunday to play the game. We made every opportunity to play it.
Ultimately, the decision was made by the league office and we respect that. I have to — you know, we have to respect safety. You have to respect Florida’s concern about safety and travel.
At the end of the day, though, we are very disappointed. We wanted to play the game. Our players wanted to play the game. I personally wanted to play the game and that’s kind of where we are right now.
You know, I’ve been asked by some people, have I been questioned about rescheduling the game. I have had no contact with anybody, the conference office, Florida, anybody else, about rescheduling this game yet. So I want to make that very clear. No contact about rescheduling the game yet.
We’ll do everything we can, just like other folks have done in helping the relief effort in Florida. We’ll do anything we can here to help them get through this and move on.
Going into the future, I have full confidence in Coach Orgeron and what he’s doing in the team. The spirit is terrific. I just watched practice, the kids are excited, even though they are very disappointed about not playing this game and I’m looking forward to the next games — I don’t know how many we’re going to play, so we’ll see.
Q. Do you feel like Florida steered the decision-making process on this?
JOE ALLEVA: Well, I can tell you this, Michael. My first conversation with Jeremy was on Tuesday. He felt very confident they were going to be able to play the game.
We had a conference call on Wednesday, and they were very confident that they could play the game. They thought maybe they may have to move the time a little later.
Then today, it all fell apart. Today, it was from the very beginning, it just fell apart.
At the end of the day, they were concerned about safety — their school is closed. Safety is the main issue. They are not going to be able to have any public safety people there. All the police have other duties they have to do.
So you know, it was their home game, and so — but, at the end of the day, the Commissioner’s office had the final say on what happens.
- Do you think moving forward there needs to be a mandate, whether it’s 48 hours, 72 hours, whether the campus is closed, the game is off; should that be addressed?
JOE ALLEVA: I think there should be some plans in place prior to — like today. There could have been plans maybe put in place that this game could have been handled differently. And that’s a possibility.
Q. Is it fair to the student athletes who worked all year long for 12 games? This is the second year in a row that you guys are going to lose a game.
JOE ALLEVA: Yeah, it’s sad. I feel bad for the student athletes. They work real hard and they were really looking forward to the game, and I’m sure the Florida players were really looking forward to the game, too.
But you have to remember that those Florida players have a lot of families, just like our families here in Louisiana. They have a lot of families that are affected by this storm and school is closed and they wanted to go help their families and be with their families also, so we have to be sensitive to that.
Q. Can you make this game up?
JOE ALLEVA: I don’t know yet. There’s really not a lot of opportunities to make it up. You know, we have — it would be very difficult to give up a home game to make up this game. It would be very difficult.
Q. Was the SEC there the whole way? Were they okay with Florida saying on Wednesday they weren’t going to play the game outside of Gainesville?
JOE ALLEVA: The Commissioner was on the conference calls when we had those conference calls, and those words were uttered and there was no argument about it.
Q. Neutral sites, they didn’t think about that?
JOE ALLEVA: I don’t believe so Jeremy said that in his press conference; that they didn’t even look at other sites.
Q. Even if it came to an empty stadium, would you be open to that?
JOE ALLEVA: I suggested that we play the game on Sunday in front of nobody if that was the case if there was no police available.
Q. Do you think the SEC should have a policy where they have a list of neutral stadiums to look at in case of events like this?
JOE ALLEVA: Maybe.
Q. From the outside looking in, it seems like they are unrealistically stubborn in demanding the game be played there. Having an inside track to it, is it different?
JOE ALLEVA: Well, their whole concern was safety. Traveling; you have to bring the equipment truck. There’s a lot of safety issues. There were no police. I don’t know in you all listened to Jeremy’s press conference, so I’m sympathetic to what he said. I understand what he said.
Q. But they were asking the same thing of your team.
JOE ALLEVA: And we were willing to do it. We were willing to go there. We had a plane. We had buses. We were willing to go. That’s my point I want to make here. We would have done anything to play the game.
Q. Did Florida offer to come down on the 19th —
JOE ALLEVA: No, I addressed that initially. There has been no conversation, at all, with anybody, about rescheduling the game yet.
Q. If you reflect back on moving the game from South Carolina to Baton Rouge, what’s the major difference on why that didn’t occur?
JOE ALLEVA: I asked that question. The biggest difference was we knew about South Carolina like on Sunday, so we kind of had a whole week to prepare and South Carolina had a whole week to prepare. Although they did the same thing. They used our plane to come down here, just like we offered them our plane to come here.
But this was a little — the decision was made today, Thursday.
Q. What about Monday, was that discussed?
JOE ALLEVA: It really wasn’t discussed. Although, to be quite frank with you, we would have made it happen in Tiger Stadium if we had that opportunity to play on Monday.
Q. That’s four days away.
JOE ALLEVA: (Shrugs shoulders).
Q. What kind of demands do you make in this situation? I understand safety is the safety net they can fall back into, but are your hands kind of tied during something like this?
JOE ALLEVA: All I could do was offer, offer opportunities. That’s all I could do and plead and beg and try to make it happen.
LSU COACH ED ORGERON
COACH ORGERON: First of all, like to thank Joe and the administration for working all week on this. My job was to coach the football team. Get the practices done and we found out the news about 2:15.
I told the team and they were very, very disappointed. They were looking forward to playing this football game. I felt bad for them. They worked very hard. Coach has worked very hard. Today was no repeat Thursday. And I had to tell them one minute before — I found out one minute before.
SO we changed our practice schedule. We worked on fundamentals today. And I think we may have had our best practice, a very resilient football team, bought into what we asked them to do, moved forward.
Although they were disappointed, we move forward. Had a great practice today. They have a much needed time off. We’re giving them tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday off, just like we would an open date, and we told them, protect the team as they go home, and get ready for our next game.
Obviously we have our thoughts and prayers for people in Florida, we know what it’s like, being in Louisiana and we wish them the best. It’s just an unfortunate situation. It was a great SEC matchup, one that we look forward to, a tough, physical football game we were ready to play, building on the momentum that we had last week, but we’re not going to let that get in our way and he’ll shrug it off and move forward.
Q. What do you do, three days off?
COACH ORGERON: They are going to work out. You do that in open date. We had a great week of practice. I think we’re going to come back fresh. Some guys that are injured and nicked up are going to come back fresh on Monday. We’re going to be ready to go. They are going to get a short workout at their home tomorrow and I think they will be fine.
Q. Would you like to reschedule this game?
COACH ORGERON: My job is to coach this football team. Whatever Joe and them tell us to do, that’s what we’re going to do.
Q. Do you feel like it’s a disadvantage, to take some of these things off the board if you don’t get to play this game —
COACH ORGERON: We’ve just got to take care of the task at hand. Whatever comes forward, we’re going to take care of the task and go forward. That’s something out of our control. Whatever happens, happens. I know this: That this football team will be ready to play next Saturday, I promise you that.
Q. What was the players’ response to finding out they weren’t going to play?
COACH ORGERON: It was like daddy walked in, but no Christmas — it was Christmas Day and there was no Christmas presents. That’s how I felt. I’ll be honest with you. I just felt, I let them down with the news. And I gave them time to grieve, and we talked about it. But you know, they came back around. I told them what to expect, what to do, handled it with class.
Although we’re disappointed, let’s get into fundamentals. Let’s worry about our team and take control of what we can control.
Q. Silver lining, get some guys off their feet?
COACH ORGERON: Well, you’ve got to turn it into a positive. They get some rest. Get some rest, much needed. Some of those guys have not been only yet. A lot of the coaches will be out on the road tomorrow recruiting. We have a recruiting meeting coming up and we’ll be out on the road, and we’ll treat it like an open date and move forward and take advantage of the time off. Some of our coaches will be in the office breaking down our opponents and getting ahead of some of the opponents coming up, so we’ll use it as an advantage.
Q. Maybe get guys back sooner than later?
COACH ORGERON: Maybe. Maybe. Get guys that are a little nicked up.
Q. Did you have that plane in place where if the game got cancelled to send coaches on the road?
COACH ORGERON: Yeah, we put that together in about two minutes.
No, as soon as we found out what — we had a team meeting and during the special teams meeting I went to talk to Austin, I said, let’s move forward and do what we need to do. Austin made the plan, we’re going to go over the plan in a minute and the guys are going to be on the road recruiting.
Q. Were you briefed during the process the last couple of days?
COACH ORGERON: Very well informed. Very well informed of everything. There was no distraction. Handling very professionally. We in this building, we worried about the task at hand and the process. We were planning to play the game. We never blinked an eye until they told us the game was off.
Q. You’ve been coaching a long time. Do you remember an occasion where a staff weren’t sure if you weren’t going to play a game or not?
COACH ORGERON: This is the first time. This is first time this has happened in my career that I can remember.
Q. From a prep side, what kind of window would you like — let’s make a decision in the future, we need to know 48 hours, 72 hours?
COACH ORGERON: That’s not my deal. That’s the administration’s deal, the conference commissioner, whatever they do, that’s what we have to do. We have to worry about this football team. I don’t make those decisions.
Q. You mentioned you altered the practice schedule. Did you practice in pads today?
COACH ORGERON: No, we kept helmets. No repeat Thursday, but we went ones against ones. We took out all the Florida plan obviously and we worked on ourselves and we had a great practice today.
Q. Have you heard from any former players, like 2005, they talked about when they had to go to Arizona State and change things around?
COACH ORGERON: No. You know, all that’s happened is went straight out to practice. So I haven’t been on the phone or anything.
Q. Does Leonard have a chance —
COACH ORGERON: Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know. I just saw him. I don’t know. Questionable.