While Florida International and Central Florida are extending their young rivalry, Florida and Miami could be playing the last game in their rivalry’s history. At least, that’s what The Orlando Sentinel is suggesting.
One of the many always trustworthy anonymous sources close to the Florida athletics program tells The Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi ”Unless Miami joins the SEC, I don’t see us ever playing them again during the regular season. It’s just not worth it.”
From Florida’s point of view, ending the Miami series makes some sense. The Gators are often criticized for staying so close to home in non-conference play every season, but the Gators do have a regular meeting with Florida State at the end of the regular season to cap an SEC schedule that features games against Georgia and South Carolina and should soon see more of a challenge from old rival Tennessee. Cross over games with SEC West foes will rotate games against Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama as well. Simply put, Florida will always have a challenging schedule in front of them and adding in a second high-profile non-conference game against a program like Miami could put the Gators at a disadvantage in the College Football Playoff era.
Would most fans like to see more of Florida and Miami? Absolutely. In an ideal world, Florida and Miami would play every september and the Gators continue ending the regular season against Florida State in late November. But it makes sense for Florida to ensure they don’t get in a position of losing a home game in a changing landscape. Because the series with Florida State already alternates between Gainesville and Tallahassee every season, Florida is one of the programs who puts an emphasis on securing seven home games at a minimum as often as possible. Should the SEC expand the conference schedule, getting to seven home games could become more difficult if a series with a school like Miami were to continue.
“People don’t want to hear this, but it’s the fact of the matter,” Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley told the Associated Press this week. “When you take a home game out of here, it cost you significant dollars. … You can’t do that every other year and try to run a sports program at the level we’re trying to run it. I think everybody thinks that’s not a big deal. Well, it is a big deal.”
As with most decisions in the evolving landscape of college football, money trumps tradition and rivalries.