Florida has unveiled the first of what are expected to be a few home and home series with Power Five conference opponents.
On September 9, 2028, the Colorado Buffaloes will travel to Gainesville to meet the Gators for the first time ever. 364 days later, Florida will make the return trip to Boulder.
To be blunt, this is not what I envisioned a few months ago when athletic director Scott Stricklin let it be known that he was going to try to bolster Florida’s non conference schedule. It’s the opposite. And it’s far more embarrassing than anything I would have ever imagined.
For starters, I’m not thrilled that Florida is playing a home and home with an opponent that benefits from it significantly more than the Gators. Florida doesn’t recruit the Denver area, never really has, and as long as the Sunshine State keeps pumping out talent at the rate it has for the last several decades, likely never will while Colorado now has the opportunity to come play a game in the most talent-rich state in America. Whether or not the Buffs will be able to land a single recruit in attendance that day is immaterial; the fact is that Florida is giving them the opportunity to do so without the slightest benefit in return. You know, like a second home game against the same opponent it doesn’t have to shell out a hefty sum of money for, which if you remember was the only circumstance under which Stricklin would even consider playing Central Florida.
Not only is Florida not gaining anything from this deal, but they’re the givers twice over. Florida is giving Colorado the ultimate gift of gracing its 50,183 seat stadium with its presence. For context, that number is nearly exactly the average capacity of Kentucky’s Kroger Field and Vanderbilt’s Dudley Field, and Stricklin volunteered the Gators to go play a game there in an even 1-1 swap. That’s bad enough on its own. It’s made all the more worse by the Denver Broncos’ home field, Mile High Stadium, beckoning a mere 27 miles away, thus wasting a once in a lifetime opportunity to have the Gators play a college football game in an NFL stadium that few fans would otherwise ever get to. Not to mention that it holds over 25,000 more seats.
Both games will do far more to help CU than it will do to help UF, therefore, Colorado wins this trade 2-0 by boosting their prestige a little bit both years while the best Florida can do is break even each year. And that’s if Florida wins both games, as I’m sure Stricklin was thinking when he signed this contract. The Gators are universally regarded as the better program- it’s not close- so if they lose either game, this whole experiment will be remembered as a colossal failure unless the Buffaloes somehow become a national championship contender within the next seven or eight years.
So all Florida accomplished with this deal was marginally increase the value and intrigue of its home football schedule, which, if these two programs even somewhat resemble their ~2018 selves a decade from now, should result in the same kind of score you could achieve by scheduling Eastern Michigan or North Texas or even the Buffaloes’ in state rival and not having to trek into the wilderness two time zones away to play a game at a stadium better suited to host the Senior Bowl than one of the nation’s top ten program as an added bonus.
I’ll be the first to admit that I know little about what goes on in these decision making processes, but I don’t get this one.