Idaho-UF game suspended
Unsafe and unplayable conditions cited
Published: Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 12:19 a.m.
The Florida Gators' long wait to end their seven-game losing streak and finally put a 4-8 season behind them will have to wait at least another week.
In what will go down as one of the most bizarre (and wet) home openers in school history, UF's game with Idaho was suspended late Saturday night due to unsafe field conditions. No make-up date has been scheduled.
UF released the following statement shortly after the decision was made:
"Game officials for the Florida-Idaho football game, as well as athletics directors from both schools, in conjunction with the Southeastern Conference, have determined that the game between the Gators and Vandals has been suspended. This is due to weather, unsafe and unplayable field conditions at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday night.
"According to the SEC rule book, if a game is suspended before the end of the fourth period and cannot be resumed, there are four possible options:
Resume the game at a later date.
Terminate the game with a determined final score.
Forfeit the game.
Declare a no contest.
"The athletics directors from both schools, in consultation with the coaches, must agree on one of the four options listed above. This agreement will include the final score if the game is terminated.
"If the game is resumed, it will begin with the same time remaining and under the identical conditions of down, distance, field position and player eligibility."
Those unsafe conditions on Florida Field were the result of more than three hours of steady, sometimes very hard, rain accompanied by lightning in the area that delayed the start of the scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff for two hours, 48 minutes.
The Gators and Vandals were finally given the go-ahead to take the field at 9:30 p.m. for 10 minutes of warm-ups. The game finally kicked off at 9:52, but one play later — a 64-yard kickoff return by UF wide receiver Valdez Showers — the players were sent back to their locker rooms when more lightning was detected in the area.
About 30 minutes later, the announcement came that the game had been called off, even though it appeared the rain had passed through the area.
"It's unfortunate that the weather didn't cooperate for tonight's season opener," UF coach Will Muschamp said in a statement released by UF. "After long discussions with the head referee, it was determined that the field conditions were too dangerous for the student-athletes.
"As everyone saw with that opening kickoff, I thought that our guys were ready and fired up to play. We appreciate the fans coming out and supporting us and sitting through several weather delays. It was amazing the energy and passion shown in the stands all night."
About 40,000 fans waited out the two delays, and many booed when the announcement was made that the game was off.
Even though the game got off to a late start, it was a good start for the Gators, when Showers (quite appropriately) took the opening kickoff and came free down the right sideline, returning it 64 yards to the Idaho 14-yard line.
Then, following a discussion between a school official and the head referee, the announcement was made that lightning was back in the area and the game was facing at least another 30-minute delay.
The players never came back from the locker room for a second time.
According to SEC weather rules, play is halted or delayed if lightning is detected within eight miles of the stadium. Play can't begin or resume until 30 minutes after the last lightning strike.
The Gators, a 36.5-point favorite, were hoping to end the seven-game losing streak that they closed out the 2013 season with. UF's last victory came on Oct. 5 against Arkansas.
The debut of the UF spread, up-tempo offense under new coordinator Kurt Roper now will be Saturday against Eastern Michigan.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.