Florida-Miami football game may open season earlier than expected at ESPN’s request

By Adam Silverstein
February 27, 2019
Florida-Miami football game may open season earlier than expected at ESPN’s request
Football

Image Credit: Twitter / GatorsFB

A long-rumored potential change may indeed be implemented for the much-anticipated 2019 season opener between the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes in Orlando, Florida. Instead of kicking off as planned on Aug. 31, the teams are waiting for word from the NCAA about moving game up one week to Aug. 24.

Florida and Miami released a joint statement on Thursday about the request.

“This past December, Miami, Florida and Florida Citrus Sports were approached by ESPN, who had the College Football 150th organization’s support (the entity overseeing the upcoming season-long celebration), to explore interest in moving the Camping World Kickoff game in Orlando to August 24 as part of a special kick off day celebrating the sports 150th anniversary season. This is a unique and rare opportunity that would showcase college football, both storied programs, and the state of Florida. In January, a waiver was submitted to the NCAA seeking approval to move the game under this premise. Both schools, along with ESPN, College Football 150th Anniversary organization and Florida Citrus Sports, understand that fans, and the teams themselves, need time to make necessary arrangements should the waiver be granted. A decision is anticipated shortly.”

In attendance at a Gator Gathering stop for head coach Dan Mullen’s speaking tour on Wednesday night in West Palm Beach, Florida, OnlyGators.com received no formal comment from the program when a question was posed about the game potentially moving from the formal Week 1 to so-called Week 0 of the 2019 schedule. This line of questioning was raised a couple hours before the Sentinel‘s report.

If Florida and Miami do end up playing on Aug. 24, it would be the earliest that either team has kicked off a football season. It appears as if the programs and Camping World Stadium have already approved the change — as per the above statement — but the NCAA must sign off on any schedule adjustments. It would also need to improve the Gators and Canes starting their training camps one week earlier.

OnlyGators.com first reported late Wednesday that that the genesis of this request was ESPN, which wants a marquee game to lead off its coverage of the 150th college football season. No matter when the game is played, it will have a prime time kickoff, likely at 8 p.m. ET.

With the 2019 campaign beginning prior to September, teams will have two bye weeks this year. UF’s byes are scheduled for Oct. 26 and Nov. 23. However, should the Florida-Miami game get moved up one week, one would expect the Gators to have three off weeks, a true rarity.

The Canes are 29-26 all-time in the series with wins in seven off the teams’ last eight meetings dating back to 1986.

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