In the ever changing world of college football conference expansion, one thing seems to be getting lost in the moves of schools changing homes: the increased chances that some of the game's best rivalries could no longer take place in the future.
It's not like it hasn't happened in the past. When the SEC expanded to seven conference games each season in 1988, it meant the end of the yearly battle between Miami and Florida. Texas and Texas A&M played 118 times, including every season from 1915 to 2011, but haven't battled it out on the field since the Aggies went to the SEC in 2012.
In the coming seasons, there is a chance that it could be happening with some of the Sunshine State's top battles for bragging rights.
In 2023, the UCF Knights will be heading to the Big 12 Conference while the Florida Atlantic Owls will take the Knights' spot in the American Athletic Conference. As the number of required conference games grows each season, it opens up the chances that UCF's annual game with rival USF and FAU's Shula Bowl game with rival FIU could be in jeopardy.
It's also a problem that could come into play with the state's Big Three programs.
With reports surfacing that both Miami and FSU are working to bolt from the ACC in the coming years, there is a growing concern that if they head to different conferences the annual rivalry game could also be in major jeopardy.
Why? Because if the 'Canes go to the Big Ten and the 'Noles don't follow and instead head to the SEC, both will be in leagues with likely 20 members and the chance of as many as 11 conference games. If you're Miami and you're playing Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and maybe Notre Dame every season, do you want to also add FSU to that mix?
Of course, the chances of Miami and FSU not playing in football are nearly zero (much like FSU and Florida not playing yearly if the 'Noles and 'Canes both to go to the Big Ten). But, there is a real chance that other games like the 'War on I-4' and the Shula Bowl may go away if the Big 12 or AAC expand the number of required conference games.
Hopefully, those in charges at schools like UCF, USF, FAU and FIU realize that these games are more about bragging rights and having those traditional battles. Yes, they may not have the same title implications yearly like UM-FSU and FSU-UF used to, but rivalry games are what makes college football one of the best sports out there.
If not, they could go the way of the 'Canes and the Gators - a Sunshine State battle that generations in the future will ask why it doesn't take place each season.
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