When the Gators traveled down to Miami Gardens to take on the Miami Hurricanes in week two of the 2013 season, it appeared to be the last time that the two rivals would face off in the regular season. Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley is intent on playing seven home games a season, something that can’t happen with a rotating home-and-home with FSU and Miami as well as a game in Jacksonville with Georgia.
The Florida-Florida State rivalry isn’t going anywhere and the neutral site between Florida and Georgia is contractually protected until at least 2016. The odd man out was the Miami series, which has not been renewed.
On Monday, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that the series may not be dead and that the two athletic directors have had dialogue about renewing the series — with a caveat, however.
According to Jackson, Miami Athletic Director Blake James said that Foley was receptive to the idea of renewing the series between the two schools but that Florida would only be interested if the game was at a neutral site.
“I would have to think about Orlando,” James told the Herald. “That’s not real neutral but it’s an easy distance to our campus.”
After speaking about how he enjoys the greatness of traditional rivalries, Will Muschamp addressed the reports that Florida and Miami could be eying a future revitalization of a once great rivalry.
“That’d be really good for us and really good for the state of Florida,” he said. “That’s something Jeremy [Foley] and I have talked about.”
One problem has been how much uncertainty surrounded the future of the SEC schedule.
“We’ve been in such a holding pattern scheduling-wise for several years because of the unknowns of what our league was going to do,” Muschamp said. “Whether it was going to be an eight-game or nine-game schedule.”
The league solved that problem more than a month ago, sticking with an eight-game, 6-1-1 format and released the cross-divisional rotation through 2025. That clarification gives Florida a lot of flexibility.
Other than the annual rivalry with FSU, a 2015 home contest with ECU and a 2017 game scheduled against Michigan in the Cowboy Classic, Florida has been quiet about their future non-conference schedule but adding Miami to what is an already stacked schedule year in and year out is something Muschamp would be open to.
“I’m open to it because I think it’s a great game,” he said. “I think it’d be a great leadoff game and that’s what it was for a long time. That’s what I grew up with in the ‘70s and early ‘80s was Florida-Miami leading the season off.”
However, Foley sat down with Steve Russell today on ESPN 850 WRUF and stated point blank that his conversation with Blake was no more than 10 seconds. Pat Dooley also wrote in his blog that Foley confirmed to him that the series would have to be played at a neutral site and the game would have to make financial sense to Florida.
Foley also stated during his interview with ESPN 850 WRUF that Florida is not interested in adding an additional yearly neutral site game because it takes games out of Gainesville. Those games are financially beneficial to the UAA and the community of Gainesville. He cited the 2017 matchup with Michigan as an opportunity to play a historic program and, obviously, the financial payday that will come when Florida and Michigan play is a huge.
It now appears that the snippet from Jackson’s report was a simple case of a molehill being turned into a mountain and the Florida-Miami series might be dead in the water.