Make no mistake about it, Scott Stricklin is looking to play marquee football games and build an exciting schedule for fans.
It’s just not as easy as adding and subtracting games to play 12 games against top-25 opponents like you could in the EA Sports NCAA Football video game franchise. Teams have to find dates that work with two schools, two different set of conference schedules and then agree on a contract that works for both. It’s a lengthy process that needs to start years in advance.
Before the season began the Gators announced a home-and-home with Utah. The Utes will travel to Gainesville in 2022 with Florida heading out to Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2023. Stricklin has also inked home-and-home contracts with Texas (2030-2031), Colorado (2028-2029) and South Florida (2021, 2022).
You can tell that Stricklin is making the effort to have less FCS opponents and more big matchups in the Swamp as well as big venues for the fan base to get excited about traveling to. You can also see by the years of when these games are being played compared to when they’re getting schedule just how difficult and how much planning has to happen to make these games a reality.
Dan Mullen has his own take.
“You know, people aren’t jumping up and down to play us,” the head coach said when asked about playing two FCS teams in 2019. “We’re calling Power 5 teams, trying to get more games and it’s not like hey everybody we call can’t wait to come play Florida. That’s not always an easy deal. But I know for our fans it is fun to play some bigger games and in the future, that’s something we’re going to look is trying to play some more Power 5 games.”
On Tuesday night Stricklin tweeted out an APB.
Attention ADs from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12 … @GatorsFB is looking to add additional Home-and-Home series against P5 opponents. Let’s connect and schedule quality games the fans want to see! #GoGators
— Scott Stricklin (@ScottStricklin) October 22, 2019
That message is loud and clear. The Gators have been actively looking for opponents, Power 5 opponents (sorry, UCF), to fill out future schedules. Tuesday’s tweet shows a public stance that Stricklin is determined.
And there were some takers, including Clemson’s athletic director.
— Dan Radakovich (@ClemsonDRad) October 22, 2019
Stricklin made a case for playing sooner.
Thanks Dan. Gators would love a H/H with Clemson … any chance we could do it sooner? 17 years is a long time to wait. https://t.co/X3W1rCBtKB
— Scott Stricklin (@ScottStricklin) October 23, 2019
Now that game is instantly exciting until you see the dates and realize that if a boy were born tomorrow he’d be 18 years old when the ball is snapped and, hey, maybe he’s playing for one of the two teams? Somebody tell Tim Tebow to get working on his first son.
The Gators have taken a lot of heat from rival fans and fans of college football for not playing tough out of conference games. Most of those don’t seem to account for Florida State as a tough OOC opponent but for most of the Bowden years and Fisher years, they were formidable.
Still, Stricklin is serious about beefing up the schedule and that’s good for Florida, good for fans and good for college football.