Florida State and Miami will open next football season in a nationally televised, primetime showcase in Tallahassee on Labor Day on Sept. 7, rekindling the rivalry in that coveted time slot after a two-year hiatus.
"Well, Miami and us both had kind of backed away from that (date)," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said of the teams meeting then in 2005 and 2006. "But the ACC wanted it bad … and I think ESPN wanted it bad. It's always been such a good national draw, so we both agreed to play that game again and, you know, we've got to play them sometime. I think I'm probably like Miami; I'd rather play it later, but this is just too good of a deal to turn down."
The deal took delicate mixing and matching of the needs of other schools that were affected. Florida A&M moved a Sept. 5 game against Miami to Oct. 10, and Maine agreed to find a new opponent, likely Syracuse, in place of a Sept. 5 game against FSU.
"It's something we've been working on for months to make happen and we appreciate all the cooperation we received," said Michael Kelly, ACC associate commissioner for football operations.
Other schedule highlights for FSU include: a trip to Provo, Utah, to meet BYU on Sept. 19, which will be the third meeting between the schools but first that isn't at a neutral site; the first meeting against burgeoning state power USF on Sept. 26; a Thursday night game at North Carolina on Oct. 22; and the regular-season finale at defending national champion Florida on Nov. 28.
UM opens with four teams that finished last season in the Top 25.
"Should be cool," linebacker Sean Spence said.
In other UM news, John Lovett was formally announced as defensive coordinator, coming from North Carolina.
"This is a place that I've looked at and followed since the very beginning of my coaching career," said Lovett, 58.
Gregory leaves USF
TAMPA — Greg Gregory was ready to stay with USF football in a lesser role after being stripped of his offensive coordinator's title but said that when the offensive staff met as usual last week, he felt uncomfortable enough that he decided he needed to move on.
"We started meeting, and I just felt it was an awkward situation," said Gregory, who Thursday became offensive coordinator at South Alabama. "I'm not sure anyone in that room felt comfortable. Any time you change coordinators but stay with the same staff, that's got to be an awkward deal for everybody."
USF coach Jim Leavitt said he "absolutely" would have allowed Gregory to stay as a position coach and wishes him the best.
South Alabama, a startup program, plans to be Division I-A by 2013, in the Sun Belt Conference.
Iowa: Coach Kirk Ferentz agreed to a seven-year deal that includes the same salary and bonuses. His average salary is $2.84 million.
Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires. Brian Landman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3347.