The announcement that so many Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes fans have been waiting so long for is… not quite here yet, but could be coming soon.
That’s right. Florida AD Scott Stricklin, Miami AD Blake James and the schools’ administrative offices are in talks to renew the Battle for the Seminole War Canoe at additional points in the future beyond next Saturday night in Orlando, according to the Orlando Sentinel. And not just once, but twice: once in Gainesville and once in Miami. Per a cryptic tweet from James himself this evening, an official announcement regarding future Florida-Miami football games could be coming as early as next week:
Big news regarding @CanesFootball future schedule coming next Tuesday! 🙌🏻🔥🙌🏻🔥
— Blake James (@CanesAllAccess) August 14, 2019
It’s possible that James is talking about something entirely different, but the timing of his tweet dovetailing with the Orlando Sentinel’s report makes it seem either extremely likely that he is indeed referring to Florida and Miami reviving their rivalry after 2019, or one hell of a coincidence. Until we get such an announcement, though, we’re left to use what we know to make some educated guesses.
The non conference schedules of Florida and Miami are filled throughout 2021, so 2022 would be the absolute earliest the teams could be expected to play again. And because Florida already has its annual rivalry with FSU plus the middle leg of a two-for-one with USF scheduled for that year, as well as Miami being scheduled to travel to play at Texas A&M, that doesn’t seem extremely likely. So 2023 seems like the earliest realistic date for the schools to square off- but between then and the first leg of Florida’s home and home with Colorado in 2028, there’s plenty of white space on both teams’ out of conference schedules for a home-and-home series, if not two.
Regardless, assuming this comes through and these games happen, it’s just what the doctor ordered for Florida, Miami and college football.
The Gators have always (rightfully) received all kinds of flak for their ridiculously weak out of conference scheduling policies over the past couple of decades, but it’s reached a fever pitch with a 2020 slate that includes Eastern Washington, South Alabama and New Mexico State. Even this year’s non conference schedule- two FCS opponents complementing down Miami and FSU teams- is a joke. Stricklin has always been a proponent of beefing it up, which is why future home and homes with Colorado and Texas are on the docket. And, bonus- if Florida beats Miami in ten days from now, and sweeps both legs of the home-and-home that’s supposedly in the works, the all time series between the Gators and Hurricanes will be tied at 29 wins apiece. (But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.)
For Miami, a future home and home series with Florida would provide a pair of chances to stop the laughter about the ACC Coastal Division, not to mention bolstering their own non conference schedule. Two matchups with an SEC school would be a huge recruiting point for a program that currently has the Miami-FSU game to point to as a nationally relevant game, and that’s about it. And assuming the Canes take even the tiniest of baby steps back towards becoming a national powerhouse by then, this series will give them an opportunity to verify that ascension.
And on a macro scale, college football is at its best when rivals play each other. Remember, this used to be the game in the Sunshine State. There used to be a trophy at stake between these two teams, and there still is one (albeit it goes to the round robin winner between Florida, Miami and FSU). That’s what college football is all about. The game has been desecrated by conference realignment and greed, because when rivalries like Texas-Texas A&M, Georgia-Clemson, Pitt-West Virginia, Oklahoma-Nebraska and Michigan-Notre Dame are split apart, we all lose. A revival of this rivalry, even on a two-and-done basis, would give us all two more chances to enjoy what makes college football special.