GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Idaho’s football season will have to a wait a week.
With The Swamp turned into an actual swamp and the playing field deemed unsafe, the Vandals’ date with Florida was “terminated” after two extended lightning delays Saturday night.
The terminology was later amended to “suspended” in a statement issued by Florida. But no decision was reached Saturday night on whether the game would be resumed at a later date.
“We are disappointed we did not get to play,” said Idaho coach Paul Petrino. “We are looking forward to next weekend.”
Now the Vandals will open the season with a somewhat more urgent encounter: a conference game. Back in the Sun Belt Conference after a 10-year absence – the last as an independent – the Vandals will travel to Louisiana-Monroe next Saturday for a 4 p.m. PDT kickoff.
The Gators and Vandals do share a common open date on their schedules, Oct. 25. It’s the first of two byes for Idaho – and comes between two home games – though the other bye isn’t until Nov. 22, with just a week left in the season. Florida has another bye on Sept. 27; were the game to be rescheduled then, it would give the Gators four consecutive home games.
Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said the two schools will come to an agreement on the status of the game “over the next few days.”
The Vandals were contracted to receive $975,000 from Florida for the game, with about $200,000 expected to go to travel expenses.
Florida sports information director Steve McClain told ESPN’s Darren Rovell, “We are working through the scenarios regarding the finances of the game.”
Florida’s statement said game officials, in consultation with both athletic directors, agreed to the suspension “due to weather, unsafe and unplayable field conditions at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.”
The statement also said NCAA rules allow for four options if a game is suspended before the end of the fourth quarter and can’t be resumed: resume the game at a later date, terminate the game with a determined final score, forfeit the game or declare a no contest. The schools must agree on one of the four options.
“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,” the statement read.
Lightning in the Gainesville area delayed the original 4 p.m. PDT kickoff 2 hours, 48 minutes – and by the time the game was given the go-ahead, 1.75 inches of rain had fallen on The Swamp’s natural turf.
After winning the toss and deferring their choice to the second half, the Vandals kicked off – and Florida’s aptly named Valdez Showers ran back the ball 64 yards to the Idaho 14-yard line.
Another flash of lightning prompted officials to send the teams off the field again, and 50 minutes later the game was called.