Florida Gators’ highly anticipated ‘blackout’ game vs. Arkansas to be played at worst possible time

By OnlyGators.com Staff
October 23, 2023
Florida Gators’ highly anticipated ‘blackout’ game vs. Arkansas to be played at worst possible time

Image Credit: UAA

Winning championships and building a top-tier roster are chief among the desires of Florida Gators football fans, but there has been one trivial request that many in Gator Nation have hoped for years would be fulfilled: occasionally wearing black uniforms. While not a consideration for most of the program’s existence, seeing Florida basketball don striking black uniforms during a period of great success for the team has long made similar football uniforms a top fan request.

Head coach Billy Napier claimed — before his first spring game — that such uniforms would be on the way for the Gators eventually, and Florida officially announced earlier this year that the program would indeed on black uniforms for the first time during its Nov. 4 game against the Arkansas Razorbacks inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Buy the Florida Gators’ new Jordan Brand black alternate uniforms: Adult | Youth

Whether you like the uniforms — we’re actually not fans of the jerseys, though the rest of them are striking — there’s no doubt that Gator Nation was juiced for the first blackout in The Swamp. The idea being that fans would all wear black at night creating an incredibly unique atmosphere on and around Florida Field.

Except the SEC announced Monday that Florida-Arkansas will be played at noon ET and air live nationally, in broad daylight, on ESPN2 rather than at night as the Gators obviously expected.

Not playing at night — or at least in the late afternoon — drastically affects nearly* every part of the concept. Florida wearing black jerseys during the hottest part of the day in the Sunshine State will actually create a disadvantage for the team itself, even if the temperatures are “cooler.” The noon kickoff will also discourage many fans from wearing black — or donning the promotional T-shirts, if provided — for reasons of comfort in the heat. Plus, it simply will not look as good.

While playing on ESPN2 instead of SEC Network (the only station on which a night kickoff would have possible) and not playing the game head-to-head with Alabama-LSU (the featured night game on the SEC on CBS doubleheader) are positives, neither rises to the level that it overcomes the aforementioned negatives.

Perhaps most frustrating is that the Gators were unable to solidify — or ESPN was unwilling to ensure — a night kickoff for this game. Whereas LSU seemingly gets to play at night whenever it wants, Florida never appears to have any influence on when it plays. This despite it consistently being one of the 15-most watched programs in the nation each year, regardless of performance.

Buy the Florida Gators’ new Jordan Brand black alternate uniforms: Adult | Youth

* Not all is lost for the promotion, though. The Gators have tagged the Nov. 4 game as a “Salute to Serve” event. Player nameplates will display one of five words — commitment, courage, excellence, honor, integrity — to recognize the core values of military members and first responders. Members of U.S. service academies will also visit practice throughout the week.

Florida Gators’ Military Appreciation Pack: T-shirt I | T-shirt II | Long sleeve | Shirt hoodie I | Shirt hoodie II | Fleece hoodie | Polo |

“I know Gator Nation is excited about the team wearing black uniforms, but I don’t want us to lose sight of the intent relative to creating awareness and showing gratitude and appreciation for all branches of our military and first responders,” Napier said a few months ago. “We’re doing something that’s going to be a lot of fun, but ultimately, we’re hopeful that we can recognize and show appreciation for a lot of selfless people that have chosen a profession of service and put their lives at risk each day.”

Back in 2022, Napier suggested that auctioning off each of the jerseys would be part of the plan. Florida has not yet released details about that.

Sources told OnlyGators.com earlier this year that it took a full year for the jerseys to be conceptualized due to the Gators’ contract with Jordan Brand and plans already being in place for the 2022 season.

Buy the Florida Gators’ new Jordan Brand black alternate uniforms: Adult | Youth

The Gators have long been traditionalists when it comes to football uniforms with options solely consisting of blue and white jerseys; blue, white and orange pants; orange helmets and the occasional specialty set of threads from Nike.

However, over the last few years, Florida has expanded its uniform options to include orange jerseys and both white and blue alternate helmets, which were thought permanent parts of its collection. Except the Gators are not wearing any of those items at all in 2023.

The Gators have also worn throwback uniforms, 9/11 anniversary American flag helmets, and other one-off specialty uniform combinations with the Swamp green alternates in 2017 largely being panned.


Join The

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux