Florida and Florida State have spent the spring announcing big non-conference football series with programs like Georgia and Texas.
The Gators and Seminoles announced another one Tuesday: They’ll keep playing each other through at least 2022 after signing a four-year contract extension.
Shocking, I know.
Both teams had already announced their 2019 meeting (Nov. 30 in Gainesville), even though the contract wasn’t finalized until earlier this month. So no, that meeting was never in doubt.
Nor was there any uncertainty about the teams meeting the Saturday after Thanksgiving for the next three years after that (in Tallahassee in ’20 and ’22 and in Gainesville the other year).
Then why make an official announcement about an annual series that dates back to 1958 and will probably still be around in 2058?
Read between the lines with what Gators coach Dan Mullen said last month after being asked about Georgia beefing up its schedule with Clemson and FSU.
“We play Florida State every year, right?” Mullen said. “They’re trying to catch up to us, I guess.”
But what about UF adding a home-and-home with a program like Oklahoma?
“Like I said, we already have that with Florida State,” Mullen said. “I think that’s one thing that gets looked down upon. Would it be better to drop Florida State and schedule Oklahoma? That probably wouldn’t go over so well. We already have that in the schedule.”
The UF-FSU game is, technically, optional, even if the high-profile non-conference matchup between two powerhouse programs seems like a given. If you’re going to credit Georgia and Texas for adding UF and FSU, the argument goes, you should credit the Gators and ’Noles for meeting each other, too.
UF athletic director Scott Stricklin made that point a year ago at the SEC’s spring meetings in Destin.
“I don’t think we get enough credit for the Florida State game,” Stricklin said then. “Maybe every year we put our schedule out, we should make a big press release that we’re playing one of the best teams in another Power Five conference in Florida State.”
On Tuesday, they did.