University of Florida

Florida Gators won’t make up Idaho game

Florida’s weather-suspended season opener will go down as one of the more bizarre and memorable nights ever in The Swamp, but the 10-second game against Idaho officially never happened after the schools declared the game a “no contest” on Wednesday.

University officials considered replaying the game on Oct. 25 — a common open date between the schools — or sometime in December, but ultimately canceling the game was the best scenario for both programs.

Florida wanted to preserve its precious bye week before its annual rivalry game with Georgia, while also avoiding playing nine weeks in a row. The December options never materialized either, as they conflicted with the Southeastern Conference championship game (Dec. 6) and final exams (Dec. 13).

“We looked at a number of options and, in the end, we both thought it was in the best interest of our student-athletes and football programs to play out the remainder of our respective schedules as they stand,” UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a release.

The Gators will fulfill the terms of the contract, paying Idaho its $975,000 guarantee by Feb. 1, 2015.

The schools also agreed to schedule a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in 2017.

“I want to thank UF, especially AD Jeremy Foley, for the professional and first-class way they worked through this issue and the focus on student-athlete welfare,” Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said.

“It was not in our best interest to play 10 consecutive weeks without a bye week. We look forward to our return to Florida in 2017.”

Both schools will proceed with an 11-game schedule this season, with the Gators hosting Eastern Michigan at 4 p.m. Saturday.

In 2005, UF played 11 regular-season games before the NCAA added the 12th game the following year.

Florida players remained disappointed with Saturday’s outcome, but star defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. praised Gators coaches for having the players’ best interest in mind with the monsoon and lightning.

“Not being able to show Gator Nation what we’re about, everybody else, the day that we were supposed to play, just kind of [stinks],” Fowler said.

“At the end of the day, we weren’t able to play, but we all know what the circumstances were. I take my hat off to the coaches for not being so stubborn and not listening to us. They were looking out for our health. Everyone could tell that that surface wasn’t ready to be played on, but at the time we didn’t care. But when you think about it, it was the right thing to do.”

Many Florida fans weathered the severe lightening and torrential downpour, witnessing a single play — Valdez Showers’ 64-yard kickoff return — in between multiple, lengthy delays.

UF will reimburse fans who purchased tickets. According to the university, all Gator boosters, UF season-ticket holders, single-game purchases, group, mini-plan ticket holders and more will be paid a full refund. For complete information, fans should contact the Gators ticket office at 352-375-4883, ext. 6800.

“Like all Gators, I wish we could have played the game Saturday night, but I support the decision made by both athletic directors,” UF coach Will Muschamp said. “As I said earlier this week, our focus is getting our players and team ready for Eastern Michigan, and we are excited to get back out there in front of our passionate and loyal fans.”