With oddsmakers casting them as 36 1/2-point underdogs, the Idaho Vandals’ season opener at Florida last Saturday was being dismissed as no contest well before kickoff.
Now that’s what it is officially.
Athletic directors Rob Spear of Idaho and Jeremy Foley of Florida on Wednesday declared the suspended game “no contest” after being unable to find a mutually agreeable makeup date this season.
Statements from the two schools reported that Florida will pay the full $975,000 guaranteed the Vandals in the game contract by Feb. 1, 2015. Idaho’s travel expenses – in the neighborhood of $200,000 – will come out of that figure, as would have been the case originally.
And the two teams have agreed to play in 2017 in Gainesville, with a date – and contract details – to be determined. The Vandals have no other opponent from the five major conferences booked that season.
Extreme lightning in the Gainesville area delayed kickoff of the Saturday game nearly three hours. The teams got one play in – a 64-yard kickoff return by the Gators – before lightning forced another suspension, and game officials declared 50 minutes later that field conditions were too perilous to continue.
The two schools shared a common open date on their schedules, Oct. 25. But slotting the suspended game into that Saturday would have forced Idaho to play games on 11 consecutive weeks before its other bye, on Nov. 22, and cost Florida a weekend off before its Nov. 1 showdown with rival Georgia.
Both Spear and Idaho coach Paul Petrino had lobbied for a December makeup, but the SEC championship game on Dec. 6 made it problematic for the Gators.
“I want to thank UF, especially A.D. Jeremy Foley, for the professional and first-class way they worked through this issue and the focus on student-athlete welfare,” 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.”
Any fans who purchased tickets through the UI ticket office can obtain refund information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Vandals now open their season Saturday with another road trip – this one to Louisiana-Monroe for a 4 p.m. PDT game, marking their return to Sun Belt Conference play.