Neutral site Miami game makes sense

Even if Florida won, the game in Miami last season would have done nothing for the Gators.

At the ongoing SEC convention in Destin, Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley touched on the idea of playing the University of Miami football program. Of course a large group of the fans want to renew a series with Miami and play it on an annual basis, but it really makes zero sense for Florida to do so. Foley says that he would be interested in a one time, neutral site game between the two teams.

While everyone wants to see more of big in-state rivalries from the past like the Miami and Florida series, a true series of games really only benefits one of the programs.

The Florida football program year in and year out plays one of the top ten schedule s in the country. By year end, that schedule is usually in the top five if not higher. Adding another team, especially in a real road game environment does nothing for Florida and its strength of schedule.

On the contrary, the Hurricanes have to fight the national perception of a weaker schedule and need games like the Florida game to boost that perception and their strength of schedule.

Furthermore, given the Miami fan base and their low fan turnout, a home and home series would be like doing the same with Middle Tennessee State. All apologies to the Blue Raiders who likely have a larger actual home annual attendance than the Hurricanes. Florida traveling to Miami would be the biggest game that season maybe by 50,000 fans and bolster their average attendance and their pockets in a big way.

Florida could host Furman, and not have to return the favor. Again apologies to the Purple Paladins, who likely have more fans attend their home games than the Hurricanes.

The compromise is playing at a neutral site. Some place like Orlando or Tampa (been done in the past) and both teams get a nice payout from the host city (see Jacksonville and Florida vs. Georgia). Neither team gets ridiculed for bucking a rivalry. Both teams take home some money from the host city. The neutrality of the site would likely favor the winner even more than a home win in the eyes of voters and computers.

It is a win-win, or so it seems.

Now it appears the ball is placed in the Hurricane's court to respond. Are they afraid of the Gator faithful filling more of the stands than their own? It is likely, which goes back to reason number one above of why Florida should do a home and away series with them. If that is the case it is time for them to quit with the nonsense of being afraid to play them.

The fact is and has always been that Miami needs Florida more than Florida needs Miami. Now we have an opportunity to get on an even field and Florida is willing to do it. It is the best scenario for all involved, but will Miami go for it?


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