Florida’s revenge tour was delayed an additional week, but coach Will Muschamp declared the Gator Nation victors on a night when the weather ultimately won out at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Florida’s opening game against Idaho on Saturday night was canceled because of severe thunderstorms in the area, yet nearly 20,000 fans weathered the monsoon, eager to put a miserable 2013 season in the rear-view mirror.
Muschamp — who surveyed the field’s conditions to raucous cheers before the brief 10-second restart — applauded the fans’ energy and commitment, saying: “It’s unfortunate that the weather didn’t cooperate for [Saturday night’s] season opener. 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. The Gator Nation showed why they’re the best fans in the country, starting with one of the most enthusiastic Gator Walks that we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
The Gators have gone winless for 329 days, and many fans were prepared to wait out multiple delays.
Valdez Showers’ 64-yard kickoff return was simply a tease.
A large number of students stayed even after the second lightning delay, shouting: “We want football!” as well as other various Gators chants during the lengthy suspension.
According to UF officials, both schools will determine the fallout from Saturday’s canceled game “over the next two or three days.”
Idaho was set to be paid $975,000 to travel nearly 3,000 miles, but according to UF officials, details — including financial ones and logistics (i.e., a potential reschedule date) — continue to be discussed.
Both schools share an open date on Oct. 25.
But the Gators are unlikely to agree to a makeup game for two reasons: the Georgia game is the following week and the refusal to play nine weeks in a row.
The schools could agree on financial details and determine the game to be a “no contest,” in which each school would simply play an 11-game schedule this season.
The Gators host Eastern Michigan on Saturday, their latest start date since 2004.
A decade ago, Florida was forced to move its opening game against Middle Tennessee because of Hurricane Francis.
Coincidentally, UF ended up playing its first game against Eastern Michigan that season as well.