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Mike Bianchi: Amid Hurricane Ian, let’s recall the wisdom and idiocy of two former ADs

ORLANDO, Fla. — As we all deal with the destructive impact of Hurricane Ian, let us hope those sports administrators in this state who have decided to reschedule, postpone or even cancel games have more compassion and common sense than former LSU athletics director Joe Alleva.

I have been chronicling sports for a long time, but Alleva may go down as the biggest idiot I’ve ever covered based upon his juvenile, irresponsible diatribe after former Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley’s decision to postpone a game with LSU back in 2016 when Category 4 Hurricane Matthew was closing in on the state.

Even though Matthew skirted the coast and didn’t directly hit the state, Foley’s reasoning showed a sense of prudence and perspective. Because of the uncertainty of the hurricane’s path and the havoc it would wreak if it hit the state, Foley didn’t want to risk the major undertaking of hosting a bigtime college football game and diverting the resources and massive amounts of manpower that might be needed for hurricane rescue and recovery.

Alleva’s response was something you would expect from an uninformed LSU fan on a message board instead of a high-level executive at an institution of higher learning. And an institution, no less, in Louisiana, which has certainly seen its share of hurricane carnage over the years. Alleva publicly tried to shame Foley into playing the game and even sent emails to his underlings in which he accused the Gators of trying to duck LSU in order to help better the Gators’ chances of winning the SEC East.

Florida eventually yielded to Alleva’s demands and agreed to move what should have been a Gators home game to Baton Rouge later in the season. After the Gators ended up winning that game, 16-10, and clinching the SEC East, then-UF coach Jim McElwain couldn’t resist blasting Alleva.

“The way I look at it, they [LSU] got what they deserved. And it should have been worse,” McElwain said. “This was supposed to be a home game for us, so we’re now 6-0 in the Swamp this year. That’s pretty cool.”

As for Foley, all he could do was shake his head and hold his tongue as best he could when discussing Alleva’s incredibly stupid comments.

“I get the importance of football — no one is a bigger football fan than myself — and I understand how important football is to the [Southeastern] conference and the South,” Foley said then. “We had a Category 4 hurricane headed this way. [It] could’ve been catastrophic to the state. It was difficult enough for so many people. To think that we were trying to not play a football game for any reason, it just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

As we see the carnage being caused by Hurricane Ian, Alleva’s stance seems even more unthinkable now than it was then.

This is a perfect example of why Jeremy Foley is arguably the greatest athletic director in SEC history while Joe Alleva might go down as the conference’s biggest buffoon.

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This story was originally published September 28, 2022 4:07 PM.

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