No rematch in sight for rivals Florida, Miami
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida-Miami series has provided memorable moments, tantalizing trash talk and enough football fodder to maintain bitterness for decades.
Good thing, too, because after Saturday’s game between the 10th-ranked Gators and the Hurricanes in Miami, the in-state rivals might not play each other for a while — at least not in the regular season.
“You never say never, but it’s really, really difficult,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said Monday.
Foley pointed to the potential of the Southeastern Conference moving to a nine-game league schedule as well as lost revenue from a home-and-home series.
“People don’t want to hear this, but it’s the fact of the matter,” he said. “When you take a home game out of here, it cost you significant dollars. ... You can’t do that every other year and try to run a sports program at the level we’re trying to run it.
“I think everybody thinks that’s not a big deal. Well, it’s a big deal.”
Florida set aside $700,000 over the last four years to offset the loss of a home game in 2013, Foley said.
The best chance the series has of being renewed — aside from a bowl game — would be as a neutral-site venture, Foley said.
“Maybe that’s what the future holds somewhere down the road,” he said. “Obviously, I won’t be making this decision forever. I just think it’s very hard for the University of Florida to play this game. We’re excited to go down there. Obviously, a great rivalry, great history, great tradition, but it’s just a difficult game to play on any kind of consistent basis.”
Even on an inconsistent basis, Florida and Miami has been one to watch.
The rivalry began in 1938 and continued annually until Florida dropped Miami in 1988 because the Gators wanted to play a “more national schedule.” Florida promptly replaced the Hurricanes with Montana State.
Miami fans said the Gators were pulling out because the Hurricanes were dominating them — on field and on the national scene.
After a 13-year hiatus, Florida and Miami renewed the rivalry in the 2001 Sugar Bowl. Just a few nights before Miami’s 37-20 win, a handful of players from both teams — most notably Miami’s Bryant McKinnie and Florida’s Alex Brown — mixed it up on Bourbon Street.
That was just the latest in a long list of heated moments for these teams.
There was the “Florida Flop” in 1971, when Florida defenders literally dropped to the ground and let the Hurricanes score, allowing the Gators to get the ball back and quarterback John Reaves to break Jim Plunkett’s record for NCAA career passing yards.
There was the peach pelting in 1980, when Florida fans — angry that the Gators trailed Miami 28-7 late in Gainesville — threw peaches at the Hurricanes, who were headed to the Peach Bowl. Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger was so furious he ordered a field goal to add to the final margin.
The “Bourbon Street Brawl” intensified the angst two decades later, and it grew even more with the most recent meeting five years ago.
Leading 23-3 with 1:56 to play in Gainesville, coach Urban Meyer could have called for a few kneel-downs and started celebrating Florida’s first win in the series since 1985.
Instead, he had Tim Tebow throwing. Tebow even took a shot at the end zone before the Gators settled for a 29-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining. The Hurricanes said Meyer was running up the score.
“Sometimes when you do things, and people see the type of person that you really are, you turn a lot of people off,” Miami coach Randy Shannon said after the game. “I won’t say more than that, but it helped us. It helped us more than you will ever know.”
Former Hurricanes and NFL star Warren Sapp was less diplomatic, calling Meyer a “classless dirtbag.”
No doubt the Hurricanes and their fans are eager for the rematch, which is the first in Sun Life stadium and features an extra 1,314 seats.
“We can’t barricade ourselves in from all the excitement that’s in South Florida right now that surrounds this game,” Hurricanes coach Al Golden said. “But it’s really important for us to be mature and focused and draw on some of our experience from last year.”
Miami officials have said there’s been no willingness from the Gators to talk about scheduling more games.
Florida fans might not be so eager. They’re already upset about having only about 900 tickets (out of a 12,500 allotment) in the lower bowl at Sun Life.
If the series does continue, Golden would welcome it.
“I don’t think there’s any question,” he said. “We’re going to play those types of games with Nebraska coming up and Notre Dame coming up. It has great significance in the state, so I would be for it, for sure.”