Florida, Miami close to renewing series


Published: Monday, August 1, 2005 at 12:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 1, 2005 at 12:48 p.m.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - After playing four times in the last five years, Florida and Miami could meet just twice in the next nine seasons.

The in-state rivals are close to completing a deal that would see the Gators and Hurricanes play a home-and-home series in 2008 and 2013.

"That's what we're talking about," Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said Sunday. "It's not a done deal; there's no signed contract. But I'm confident it's going to get to done. We are in some serious conversations, trying to make it happen."

The first matchup between the schools would take place at Florida Field in 2008. The return trip to Miami would happen five years later, in 2013.

"We would want to play them home in an odd year," said Miami athletic director Paul Dee. "Those are the years when we go to both Virginia Tech and Florida State in conference, so we'd like to have our big home dates in odd years."

The proposed home-and-home series would be a big change from what the schools initially began negotiating more than a year ago. Foley and Dee talked about playing a neutral-site game in Tampa or Orlando in 2008. But the plan changed when the NCAA passed legislation allowing schools to play 12 games each year beginning next season.

"When the 12th game passed, that gave us the flexibility to do a home-and-home series," Foley said.

Making the trip to Miami might not sound appealing to Florida fans who complained vehemently after the last trip to the Orange Bowl in 2003. They criticized the facility for needing significant repairs and ripped the home crowd for being rowdy and obnoxious.

Miami fans countered that the Gators were just bitter after the Hurricanes rallied from a 23-point deficit in the third quarter to win 38-33.

The five-year span between games in the proposed home-and-home series might not be ideal, but it could be best for both programs.

Florida may want it that way in hopes that the Orange Bowl will be renovated before then or that the Hurricanes will move to the much newer Dolphins Stadium.

"A lot of things are being discussed," Foley said.

Miami, meanwhile, could have added the Gators to an earlier home slate than 2013. But that would have created an even tougher schedule; the Hurricanes play Oklahoma in 2007 and 2009, then pick up Ohio State in 2010 and 2011. They also have Texas A&M on tap in 2007 and 2008.

"I'm not surprised at all that we're getting this done," Dee said. "Jeremy has been just great to deal with, and we're pleased to get the chance to play them twice."

Miami has won six straight against the Gators, including a 27-10 victory in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.

The winning streak is the latest footnote in a rivalry that began in 1938 and continued annually until Florida dropped Miami in 1988 because the Gators wanted to play a "more national schedule." Florida promptly replaced the Hurricanes with Montana State.

Miami fans accused the Gators of pulling out because the Hurricanes were dominating them _ on field and on the national scene.

The series has had several other heated moments, including the infamous "Florida Flop," the peach pelting and the brawl on Bourbon Street.

The "Florida Flop" happened in 1971, when Florida defenders laid down and let the Hurricanes score, allowing the Gators to get the ball back and quarterback John Reaves to break Jim Plunkett's record for NCAA career passing yards.

The rivalry grew even more intense in 1980, when Florida fans _ angry that the Gators trailed Miami 28-7 late in Gainesville _ threw peaches at the Hurricanes, who were headed to the Peach Bowl. Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger was so furious he ordered a field goal to add to the final margin.

After a 13-year hiatus, Florida and Miami renewed the rivalry in the 2001 Sugar Bowl. Just a few nights before Miami's 37-20 win, a handful of players from both teams _ most notably Miami's Bryant McKinnie and Florida's Alex Brown _ mixed it up on Bourbon Street.

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