Although college football fans will miss the once-spirited rivalry between the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators, the non-renewal of this contest is a necessary evil. While a yearly victory over the ‘Canes would certainly energize the UF fan base, the game is essentially meaningless to the Gators in the grand scheme of things.
Make no mistake about it, Florida isn’t backing down from a challenge. After all, the Gators played against a much-harder-than-it-looked non-league slate last year, with three of their four opponents landing in bowl games. They face a similar challenge this season, squaring off against the Toledo Rockets (9-4) and Florida State Seminoles (12-2) in addition to its Sept. 7 tilt against the Hurricanes. If it were logistically possible, Florida would continue to schedule this type of competition year in and year out.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
In order for a major program to be financially viable, it must play seven home games every season. Since the Gators have a standing rivalry game with FSU and play the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville annually, it’s very difficult to schedule a home-and-home with another school without risking the revenue of the coveted seventh game. The only way to justify this decision would be if Florida were to have a huge payday against a marquee opponent—preferably at a neutral site.
Miami doesn’t fit that description. Sure, Al Golden has done an excellent job of turning things around at the U, but the school still doesn’t resonate on a national level like it did when it was winning championships. Even at a neutral site, the ‘Canes wouldn’t draw nearly enough fans to generate the type of cash that the Gators would receive by playing in Gainesville.
More importantly, playing against Miami won’t exactly help Florida’s strength of schedule. Although it should compete for the Coastal Division crown this year, it’s worth noting that the Hurricanes have only won 53 percent of their conference games since joining the ACC in 2004. Rightly or wrongly, a convincing win over an ACC team with two or three losses in league play isn’t going to do much to impress the selection committee.
Since a showdown with Miami wouldn’t bring in any additional money or help position the Gators to play for the national championship, there’s simply no reason for Florida to play this game on an annual basis. It’d be better off playing either seven home games or squaring off against a big-name opponent that will generate plenty of revenue.
Perhaps the Oklahoma Sooners are available.