Gov. DeSantis wants to make sure Florida-Florida State rivalry continues

Florida defensive lineman Zachary Carter (17) sacks Florida State quarterback James Blackman in the first half of the Nov. 30, 2019 game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]
By Wayne McGahee III/Tallahassee Democrat

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wants to see the annual rivalry game between Florida State and Florida played this year.

DeSantis spoke briefly about the cancellation of the UF-FSU game at a roundtable discussion at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville during his Thursday news conference.

“I am gonna see if we can make sure that rivalry game continues because I know it’s one that we all look forward to every year,” DeSantis said.

“Look, I don’t have a dog in the fight, but it’s one that I want to see. I think that the Gators’ prospects do look good, and I think they played LSU better than any team did. And then I think we got a new coach at Florida State. I think there’s some renewed optimism with the program there as well.

“So I just think it would be something that would be good for the state if we could get it done, so we’re gonna work to see what the options would be for that.”

The FSU-UF game was officially canceled after the SEC voted to limit its season to 10 conference games last week. The ACC went to a “10 plus one” format with one non-conference game allowed with the hopes of continuing the in-state rivalry games between four ACC and SEC teams.

“As members of the SEC we’re kind of bound by their rules,” UF athletic director Scott Stricklin said last week. “And right now they’ve precluded all non-conference activity in the sport of football for this year. So as difficult as that is for us all in the state of Florida to wrap our minds around, that’s where we’re going to be for the fall of 2020.”

Forced to play?

It wouldn’t be the first time that the state of Florida tried to force the teams to play. UF refused to play the Seminoles in the 1950s before members of the state legislature introduced a bill that would require the teams to play. The bill did not pass, but it paved the way for the series to begin in 1958.

The series has been played every year since with the Gators holding a 36-26-2 advantage all-time.

FSU begins its season on Sept. 12 at home against Georgia Tech. Florida will begin its season Sept. 26. The opponent has not been announced.