Florida and Michigan set to open 2017 football season in Cowboys Classic

By Adam Silverstein
December 19, 2013

The Florida Gators announced on Wednesday that the program has agreed to open up the 2017 season against the Michigan Wolverines at AT&T Stadium – formerly known as Cowboy’s Stadium – as part of the 2017 Cowboys Classic in Arlington, TX.

When it kicks off against Michigan on Sept. 2, 2017, Florida will be playing its first non-conference regular season game outside the state of Florida since 1991.

“You don’t get these opportunities very often,” said UF athletic director Jeremy Foley in a school release. “Our schedule has been pretty consistent through the years. We were presented this opportunity and just thought it was something that our fans would embrace, our program would embrace. It would give us great national visibility. Obviously, a very difficult ballgame against a storied program – that excites us.”

Though a broadcast partner has not yet been signed for the showdown, which will kick off in prime time, it will no doubt be an extremely attractive national matchup. More than 90,000 fans will be able to attend with each school getting 25,000 tickets to divvy up.

The Wolverines announced in their release that they will be the away team with the Gators set as the home team. The Big 12 will send a crew to officiate the game between teams from the Southeastern Conference and Big 10.

Florida and Michigan have not squared off on the gridiron since the 2008 Capital One Bowl. The Wolverines topped the Gators 41-35 in former head coach Lloyd Carr’s last game and the final contest of Tim Tebow’s Heisman Trophy-winning season.

UF also fell to UM 38-30 in the 2003 Outback Bowl.

As it turns out, the schools’ basketball teams squared off in the same venue as part of the 2013 NCAA Tournament last March.

The one drawback for the Gators in scheduling an additional neutral-site games is the removal of a record-friendly, revenue-generating home contest from their schedule. Foley cautioned this will not be a regular occurrence.

“I think when you are presented with unique opportunities you need to look at it for your fans’ sake, for your program’s sake,” he said. “It’s something we will not do on a consistent basis because we like playing seven home games. Seven home games are obviously important to our program, important to the city of Gainesville.

“It will be very much the exception, not the rule, but to sit here and totally close the door on these opportunities just doesn’t make sense.”

He added: “This is a great opportunity to expose the University of Florida nationally, playing one of the greatest programs in the history of college football, I think a tremendous trip for our fans. We just haven’t done much of this, certainly as long as I’ve been athletic director. I think there are a lot of positives that come out of it.”


  1. calgator says:

    Ok just throwing this theory out there…We all know how insistent UF has been about having a certain number of home games every year ($$$), to the point that we no longer play Miami and never play a big name out of state OOC team because we won’t do a return trip. The UF/GA contract w/ Jacksonville ends in 2016. Any chance this is the writing on the wall that the format for that game is going to be changing, giving us that extra home game in 2017 to make up for this one? Or are we really going to give up a home game against Furman/Savannah State?

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Actually those aren’t really the reasons we don’t do either of those at all. UM was dropped when the SEC expanded to 12 teams and we had to add in another conference game, and the schedule in general was already rediculously difficult. For most of the last 20 years we have been in the top 5 most difficult schedules in the nation every year. As far as not leaving the state, there is no reason to. FSU, UCF, Miami, USF are all teams in AB conferences, along with others like FIU, FAU, etc there is no reason to leave the state to find quality competition and pay the travel expenses.

      • calgator says:

        Sorry, but you are absolutely incorrect. While conference expansion was definitely a factor, it was the loss of $$$ that resulted from adding an extra home/away that caused us to drop Miami off the schedule instead of a cupcake that does not require a return trip. Unless you think JF is lying… “People don’t want to hear this, but it’s the fact of the matter,” Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley told the Associated Press this week. “When you take a home game out of here, it cost you significant dollars. … You can’t do that every other year and try to run a sports program at the level we’re trying to run it. I think everybody thinks that’s not a big deal. Well, it is a big deal.” As to your other point about not needing to leave the sate because of the quality opponents here, let me ask you this – How many of those teams listed have we actually played at their house? It has nothing to do with in-state vs. out-of-state. It has everything to do with $$$ and who we can get to travel here without having to return the favor.

  2. MechEgator says:

    Gators 2017 Schedule:

    SEC West
    SEC West
    South Carolina

    That’s an insane level of competition…’14 recruiting class better be ready!

    Undefeated SEC teams are definitely a thing of the past.

    (*) We have to earn this title back.

  3. Gatoralum88 says:

    Whew! Fortunately, it’s far enough down the road for the next head coach to fix Muschump’s mess once he’s given the boot after next season (hopefully).

  4. cline says:

    hard to think what our boys will be looking like in 2017. Regardless I would love to attend. GO GATORS!

  5. Spike says:

    City of Gainesville loses revenue but network and/or sponsor pays the teams about the same they would make in a home game- including travel costs. Especially when that home game includes 10000 unsold seats vs an FCS team. To me, the neutral site game vs marquee opponent and associated pay day is equal to the revenue UF gets from a home scrub these days (that gets paid 500k to 750k from UF).

    • Timmy T says:

      Spike, the Gators clear about a million every home game. Supposedly its like 250,000 bucks for travel costs, and we get paid 6 million for this one. Huge payday involved, and a winner of a game for everybody. I absolutely love it.

  6. Timmy T says:

    6 million dollar payday for showing up, and a GREAT matchup. We need to do it every year!

  7. Spike says:

    Timmy- thanks for the figure on the pay day. Adam is correct- UF shares nothing with the sec for this game.

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