In what constitutes a re-affirmation of USF coach Charlie Strong's desire to take on all-comers, the Bulls and the University of Florida have announced a three-game football series beginning in 2022.
The Bulls and Gators, who have played only once previously (a 38-14 UF triumph in 2010), will meet twice in Gainesville (Sept. 17, 2022 and Sept. 6, 2025) and once in Tampa (Sept. 9, 2023).
"I would like to thank Coach (Charlie) Strong for his desire to play a challenging non-conference schedule and the leadership at Florida for their partnership in making this happen," Bulls athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement released by USF.
"We are committed to scheduling opponents that our fans are excited to see the Bulls compete against and Florida certainly ranks very high on that list."
The contract, released Tuesday morning by USF, calls for the Bulls to receive a total of $750,000 for its two trips to Gainesville. Accompanying that sum will be the virtual assurance of no fewer than 60,000 fans (and a nice profit) for its '23 home game against the Gators.
UF will receive $250,000 for its visit to Tampa. The per-game buyout is $2.5 million, according to the contract. Additionally, USF will receive 6,000 tickets to sell its fans for each of its trips to Gainesville; Florida gets 12,000 for the game in Tampa.
It's the second three-game series set up this year by Harlan in which the Bulls face a Power Five foe twice on the road in exchange for one home game. USF travels to Louisville in 2022 and '26 (getting a total of $1.2 million for the trips), and hosts the Cardinals in '24.
For the Gators' part, the series reaffirms UF's desire to play in-state competition. Over the past 15 years, Florida has played FSU, Miami, UCF, USF, Florida A&M, FAU and FIU.
Before a recent booster speaking stop in Lakeland, Gators coach Dan Mullen said he wanted to play nearby opponents.
"I'm big into trying to play geographic games as much as possible, because I love the opportunity for guys – we have a lot of Florida guys on our team – for their families to see them play," Mullen said.
The addition of UF forces some modifications to upcoming USF schedules.
The Bulls' previously scheduled matchup with FAU on Sept. 17, 2022 in Tampa will be moved to a future date. A 2023 return game vs. San Jose State in Tampa — initially set for Sept. 9 — has been moved to Sept. 16.
USF now has 15 scheduled non-conference games vs. Power Five opponents through 2026, in addition to a pair of games vs. BYU (2019 and '21). In '22 alone, the Bulls are slated to host Texas, and travel to Gainesville and Louisville.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Strong is inextricably linked to the three most prominent upcoming non-conference foes. He previously coached Louisville (2010-13) and Texas (2014-16) and served four separate stints as a Gators assistant.
Times staff writer Matt Baker contributed to this report.