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SEC tries to sort out if/when to play Florida-LSU

Florida Football Insiders

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It’s been a rough weekend of p.r. for the SEC office after not taking charge of the Florida-LSU game last week with Hurricane Matthew threatening the East coast of Florida. It was compounded by essentially allowing the Gators to dictate/decide that it wouldn’t be played in Gainesville or anywhere else, on Thursday afternoon.

We wrote Friday morning that it “dumbfounded” us on how we got to the conference potentially having to cancel a game for the first time in history. And no, this is not just Vandy hosting Kentucky. It’s two of the prominent football programs in league history, who year in and year out for the last 15-20 years have been contenders for the SEC title and even National Championships.

So, what to do now?

First, here was commissioner Greg Sankey doing a live phone interview with CBS announcers Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson (who asked all but one of the questions) during the broadcast of the Tennessee-Texas A & M game Saturday:

The gist of that interview was that the SEC was rightly concerned about safety because of the Hurricane, the Gators (and A.D. Jeremy Foley) were insisting the game couldn’t be played (yet Thursday was way to soon to make a final decision on that) and more importantly, they have to try to solve it now.

In the last part of the interview, Danielson put Sankey on the spot about ultimately having the authority to make the decision and tell LSU and Florida what to do and when. Sankey responded with, “we have to come together as a family on this.”

Good luck with that part. And instead it may come down to Sankey and the SEC being “the parent” who says, “because I say so.”

Here are the educated guesses/options, if the game can be made up:

Chad Scott of GridironNow.com details how the Florida-Georgia game could be moved back from it’s usual last Saturday in October spot to the week before  10/22, which is both of their bye weeks, here.

That would create the chance for Florida and LSU to meet Saturday 10/29 on LSU’s off week.

Chad does an excellent job and has great insight into the logistical nightmare that it would  first cause with the primary tenant at Everbank Field, the Jaguars. And how their home game the previous week being only six days before the proposed moving up of Gators vs. Dawgs is a big problem.

Next, Dennis Dodd of CBSsports.com, who is a very plugged in national college sports writer, has a couple of SEC sources talking to him and wrote this on Sunday about making the game up.

Putting aside his over the top theme of “how could you think of playing a game when a Hurricane was passing by on the Atlantic Coast of Florida?!” (by the way, that’s just what the ACC, and Miami waited for and played their game Saturday night), he does bring up two more possibilities.

One, as has been discussed on the internet and the radio for five days now, the SEC tells LSU and Florida that they are dropping their “buy” home games on 11/19 against South Alabama and Presbyterian, respectively. Then, they play each other in Gainesville for the make up on that day. The SEC would obviously have to reimburse everybody for that. Not a small price tag.

Clearly, (and has also been well discussed) LSU will complain about having to play Alabama, Florida and then on Thanksgiving night, Texas A & M, all on the road. And as Dodd writes, the SEC could move the Thanksgiving game to Saturday to give LSU two more days of rest and recovery. The Gators would also complain that they don’t want a dogfight game against a tough opponent before they finish with bitter rival Florida State the next week.

Again, good luck with all of that.

Dodd, also wrote a quick sentence about one source theorizing about moving the SEC Championship game back one week to potentially play LSU-Florida, if needed on Saturday 12/3. He used the two words, “extreme measure.”

We will write two words in response, “Not Happening.”

So we wait for it to sort out, but don’t be surprised if the game is not made up for all the reasons above, and then some.

Whatever happens, it won’t be dull or uninteresting the next few weeks.

The bottom line is this: it’s undeniable that the game could have been played safely Saturday, Sunday, or even tonight in Gainesville, Tampa, or even, Orlando.

And now, you have what you have, because the SEC didn’t wait until Friday, etc. to help them get it figured out.

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Florida Gators

Gators and Canes- It’s complicated

Matt Zemek

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Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

If asked to explain the football rivalry between the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida Gators, the simplest answer points to anything but simplicity.

This rivalry is very complicated.

If you look at the broader contours of this rivalry, which had been played annually for most of its history through 1987 but then abruptly stopped before resuming in the 2001 Sugar Bowl and then (in the regular season) in 2002, you might conclude that Miami has been fortunate.

Example number one: The Hurricanes didn’t play the Gators in the mid-1990s. The Gators were clearly the superior program for several seasons but didn’t play the Canes in that time window.

Example number two: Miami played Florida only once from 2006 through 2012. The Gators were elite under Urban Meyer and improbably made the Sugar Bowl in the 2012 season. Miami likely would have been roughed up had it played Florida on an annual basis in that seven-year sequence. It played UF only once (and lost, in 2008).

Yet, these likelihoods and probabilities can’t be taken for granted. When these teams have met, likelihoods and probabilities haven’t held up very well.

In the 1983 season, Miami won the national championship, beating Nebraska in the 1984 Orange Bowl. Yet, those Hurricanes lost to the Gators. Miami lost in Game 1 to Florida and didn’t lose again.

In the 1984 season, Florida finished first in the SEC for the first time ever, winning a long-sought SEC championship. The title was later stripped, but it remained that the 1984 Gators were a special team on the field.

That year, Miami — with Jimmy Johnson in his first year as head coach after Howard Schnellenberger jumped to the USFL — slumped to an 8-5 record.

The Canes, however, defeated the Gators. Much as Miami lost to Florida in Game 1 of 1983 and didn’t lose again, the 1984 Gators lost to the Canes and never lost again, finishing 9-1-1.

In 1985, Miami had the better team than Florida. The younger but still hugely formidable version of the Miami crew which dominated the 1986 regular season entered its bowl game, the 1986 Sugar Bowl, with a No. 2 national ranking and a chance to win the national championship. The 1985 Canes lost only one regular-season game. Yep, you guessed it: to Florida in the opener.

The 1983-1985 Gators had high-quality teams, but no one talks about those squads because of the enormous amount of NCAA violations accumulated by Florida under Charley Pell (the head coach of the team throughout 1983 and on opening day of 1984) and Galen Hall (Pell’s 1984 offensive coordinator and his successor as head coach).

The corruption of Florida football was so pervasive — and the SEC so merciless toward Florida (in a way it never would be with cash-cow Alabama) — that Steve Spurrier’s first Florida team in 1990 was not given an SEC championship despite finishing first in the conference. It paid a price for sins committed by Galen Hall.

Nevertheless, despite the darkness of the mid-1980s in Florida football history, it remains that in 1983 and 1985, these schools met at the height of their powers. This has rarely happened in UM-UF annals. The 2001 Sugar Bowl was another instance, the 1966 game yet another… and that’s the full list of games between the Canes and Gators when both programs were riding high. For a series which dates back to 1938, that’s not a lot of showcase games.

Miami was weak when Florida was strong in the past 30 years. The discontinuation of annual play between the schools cost college football fans many clashes which probably would have been quite memorable and significant.

Imagine the 1991 Canes — co-national champions — facing the Gators at some point. Florida was in the top five entering the Sugar Bowl that season.

The 1994 Canes weren’t spectacular — Nebraska, often UM’s punching bag in the Orange Bowl, outplayed the 1994 Miami team — but they were still a top-five-quality group. The 1994 Gators led Florida State 31-3 in Tallahassee before the “Choke at the Doak” unfolded. UM-UF would have been fun in 1994, without question.

Imagine the 2001 Canes, possibly the best college football team of all time, facing Rex Grossman (whom many people feel should have won the Heisman Trophy over Nebraska’s Eric Crouch) and a loaded UF offense. That matchup didn’t occur in the regular season, but it could have happened in the Rose Bowl for the national title.

Florida, though, was stunned in The Swamp by Tennessee on December 1, dashing that possibility to bits.

Miami and Florida played a home-and-home series in 2002 and 2003… right after Spurrier left for the NFL and the Washington Redskins. Ron Zook was no match for the Larry Coker teams which were the last at UM to win on a massive scale.

Florida versus Miami is a story of two schools who don’t like each other, rarely meeting when both teams are great. The stop-and-start quality of this series, plus the untimely lapses for Miami and the equally untimely departure of Spurrier from Gainesville in 2002, have deprived this series of so many more special moments. Miami-UF could have become a rivalry on par with Miami-Florida State and Florida-Florida State, but it was not meant to be.

Let us see if yet another Canes-Gators season opener will cut against the grain. Don’t expect the losing team to go unbeaten the rest of the way, as 1983 Miami did after losing to UF, or as 1984 Florida did after losing to UM..

.. but given the way this series has played out, don’t take a single thing for granted. Miami is 12-4 in the last 16 games of the series dating back to 1978. It might be easy to think this is Florida’s time.

Yet, if UM-UF has taught Floridians anything, it is to let the drama play out and not assume one school has the obvious upper hand.

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Florida Gators

Gators- Hurricanes make home and home series official

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As the Gators and the Hurricanes get ready to tangle on the neutral field of Orlando in a huge matchup Saturday night to open the 2019 college football season, the official word has come down that the two schools will meet each other twice more starting five years from now.

Both the Gators and Hurricanes released the information simultaneously Tuesday Morning announcing that Florida will host Miami in the opening game of the 2024 season at the Swamp and Florida will return the favor at Hard Rock Stadium against the Canes in September of 2025:

This is the first of a home-and-home schedule between the two programs since Florida hosted the Hurricanes in 2008, a 26-3 Gators romp and the Gators returned with a visit to Hard Rock Stadium in 2013, a Miami 21-16 victory.

The last time the two schools played in back-to-back years was 2002 – 03.

The Gators announcement of hosting Miami in the opening game on August 31, 2024, is the second piece to their non-conference schedule for that season. Obviously, Florida ends every year playing with Florida State in their rivalry game. Also, it has been previously announced that Florida will host USF as part of a two-for-one home game deal with the Bulls and that game will be on September 6th, 2025. Or, two weeks before Florida will now travel to play the Hurricanes in Miami.

The Canes now have three pieces to their non-conference schedule for both 2024 and 2025. Miami will host Florida A&M after the Gator opener on the road and then will play Notre Dame later in the season. In 2025 ,the Hurricanes will host USF, Notre Dame and now Florida, as part of a robust home schedule out of conference.

Saturday night’s showdown on the neutral field in Orlando is at Camping World Stadium and will be televised as a standalone ESPN national broadcast. The Gators are ranked in the top 10 of every preseason ranking and are a touchdown favorite of the Canes.

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