Florida Football: Gators Must Be Careful in How They Handle Scheduling Miami

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Florida Football: Gators Must Be Careful in How They Handle Scheduling Miami
USA TODAY Sports
Miami beat Florida 21-16 in 2013.

If you're looking for a scheduling guinea pig in the new era of the SEC, Florida is here for you.

The conference announced its cross-division schedule rotation through 2025 earlier this week, just one month after the conference announced that it was sticking to the eight-game conference schedule that features six division games, one permanent cross-divisional rival and one rotating cross-division opponent.

In addition to the games within the conference, the SEC will require each to play at least one team from a "power five" conference starting in 2016.

That's where Miami comes in.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and Miami AD Blake James are discussing the possibility of the Gators and Hurricanes getting together for a renewal of their rivalry. According to the report, Florida would only agree to the matchup as a neutral-site game.

Former Florida QB Brock Berlin led Miami to a 38-33 win over his former team in 2003.

Current Gator head coach Will Muschamp is game, according to Scott Carter of GatorZone.com.

"I think that would be really good for us and really good for the state of Florida,'' Muschamp said. "That's something Jeremy and I have talked about. We have been in such a holding pattern scheduling-wise for several years because of the unknowns of what our league was going to do."

Florida will meet its out-of-conference requirement every year thanks to its intrastate rivalry with the ACC's Florida State, so if this game is going to happen, Florida better be smart.

Luckily for Foley and the Gators, there's plenty of structure to work with now thanks to the SEC's long-term structure and the ACC's similar requirement to schedule a "power five" team.

Because of that structure, though, the Gators better pick and choose when they fit in the 'Canes—because there isn't much room.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Florida QB Jeff Driskel.

They already have an out-of-conference neutral-site game scheduled with Michigan in the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas, in 2017, according to FBSchedules.com, and play Florida State at home in odd-numbered years. 

Doug Benc/Getty Images
Florida beat Miami 26-3 in Gainesville in 2008.

Additionally, its out-of-conference slate is filled in 2015, and it's unlikely that Florida would agree to a neutral-site game with Miami in 2016—or any even-numbered year—since it already has to travel to Florida State in those years.

That gate revenue is important, and that's exactly why any neutral-site game between the two has to be strategically planned to make a splash on the national stage as well as at the gate.

Orlando is a perfect fit and a location James said could be a possibility.

“I would have to think about Orlando,” he told the Herald. “That’s not real neutral but it’s an easy distance to our campus.”

What do ya know...the Citrus Bowl in Orlando is currently undergoing a $207 million fast-track renovation that should have the facility ready to host games by late November 2014, according to Mark Schlueb of the Orlando Sentinel

Should Florida and Miami get together for a neutral-site game in the near future?

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This game has nothing to do with the "power five" requirement from Florida's perspective. As a result, Florida could conceivably buy out of one of its lesser out-of-conference games in 2015 against East Carolina or New Mexico State. 

But a matchup in 2019 is far more likely. According to FBSchedules.com, Miami's only scheduled out-of-conference game that season is at home versus Rutgers, and Florida would get Florida State at home. 

Whenever it happens, Florida and Miami need to get together. The two proud programs have only met six times since 1987, with the 'Canes winning five of those games. It seems like there's some hope for this rivalry to be renewed, but the challenges associated with Florida's schedule will make it difficult for the two to get together very often.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report.

 


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