College football fans throughout the state of Florida have been anticipating Saturday's clash between the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators all summer, and for good reason. Barring a matchup between the two rivals in a future bowl game, this could be the last time Miami and UF play each other for a long time.
"You never say never, but it's really, really difficult," Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said this week.
Foley said the Southeastern Conference's decision to add an extra conference game to the schedule means it is more expensive for UF to schedule home-and-home out-of-conference games (and thus give up a home date every other season).
"People don't want to hear this, but it's the fact of the matter," he said. "When you take a home game out of here, it cost you significant dollars. ... You can't do that every other year and try to run a sports program at the level we're trying to run it."
Foley said UF set aside $700,000 each year for the past four seasons to cover the "cost" of Saturday's UM game.
"Obviously, I won't be making this decision forever," he added. "I just think it's very hard for the University of Florida to play this game. We're excited to go down there. Obviously, a great rivalry, great history, great tradition, but it's just a difficult game to play on any kind of consistent basis."
That is too bad for fans of both schools, whose rivalry has been intense even as they stopped their annual series in the late 1980s.
In 1988, the Gators dropped Miami from the schedule to play a "more national schedule." UF replaced the Hurricanes with Montana State the next season, leading many Canes fans to claim the Gators were tired of losing to Miami (who had won seven of the previous 10 games between the two).
And while UF says a renewed rivalry in UM is unlikely, UM coach Al Golden says he would be on board.
"I don't think there's any question," he said. "We're going to play those types of games with Nebraska coming up and Notre Dame coming up. It has great significance in the state, so I would be for it, for sure."
But Miami officials say there has been no indication that UF is willing to schedule future dates with the Canes.