A deep dive into Miami’s future nonconference scheduling, with comments from UM Athletic Director Blake James and the assistance of several publicly available game contracts from opposing schools. Part three in a four-part series.
Aug. 31 at Camping World Stadium, Orlando (likely televised by ESPN)
The big question looming over this game, Miami’s second big-time season-opener in a row: when’s the next one?
Mark Richt said he’d be “all for it” if his team played the Gators every year. James said he hasn’t had an in-depth conversation with second-year Florida AD Scott Stricklin, but he wants to resume the series.
To Stricklin’s predecessor, Jeremy Foley, “it wasn’t of interest,”James said.
Fans certainly would be interested. UM beat UF 21-16 at Sun Life Stadium in 2013, the most recent of an antagonistic 55-game series which began in 1938. The teams played every year from 1944 to 1987, when the Gators dropped the series, claiming the SEC’s expansion left them with no room for the Canes. Miami leads the series 29-26 and has won seven of the last eight.
Florida Citrus Sports, the host organization, and ESPN helped the sides come together for this one-time event (and will reap the financial benefits of hosting a marquee rivalry game).
“[FCS] knew my desire to play Florida,” James said. “Florida had an interest in doing a game like this at a neutral site. … I wanted to play them whenever we could. I’m glad we got this one in place.”
UF will be the designated home team — and probably enjoyed that its gator head logo was stamped at midfield in a seating chart included in its contract.
“That’s not important to me,” James said. “What was important was we had the opportunity to get as many tickets as we could for our fanbase. Our fans are excited to be at that game. I can’t control what people do with their tickets once they purchase them, but for those who are supportive of our program, I wanted them to have the opportunity to purchase tickets. We have an allotment that will allow us to meet those needs.”
Camping World Stadium, the former Citrus Bowl which was refurbished in 2016, holds 65,000. UF is responsible for selling 22,500 tickets. James, who wasn’t looking at Miami’s contract when interviewed, said he believed UM was due the same.
According to UF’s contract, ESPN will make available 1,000 student tickets at $50 each., give 250 comp tickets, and provide 250 parking passes at $25 a piece. The school bands and cheerleaders, as is standard, are admitted free as long as they are wearing a uniform.
ESPN arranges the officials, too: in this case, “a neutral crew from a Power Five conference.” That means either Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12.
The network gives $4.375 million to UF for participating. James said UM’s payout is “right in the same neighborhood.”
The money due Miami is “for the most part” spoken for,” James said. “Using this game as an example, if I’m looking at a five-year budget, I might take a million of this and put it toward the indoor facility to offset some fundraising shortage there, or pay down debt on it. It’s not earmarked for things, but it’s part of the plan when you’re creating five-year forecasts.”
James, like most Canes fans, hopes the Gators want to be involved in those plans.
“I hope there’s an opportunity for us to play them on a more regular basis,” James said. “I think it’s good for college football. I think it’s good for the state. Obviously, you want to have home games and I understand that — I think that’s part of their reasoning for not wanting to play us. At the same time, obviously, we’re a very successful program. I’m sure some of that factors into it. I’d be happy if we could set up an annual series, recognizing they have a great program.”
Sept. 21, 2019 at Hard Rock Stadium
Miami announced last month it would host Central Michigan, a MAC school, at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 21, 2019. The Hurricanes will pay the Chippewas $1.4 million for the game, according to CMU’s contract.
Miami will pay in two installments: $600,000 due to Central Michigan before June 15, 2019 and the remainder due before Feb. 15, 2020.
Central Michigan previously planned to travel to South Florida and face Florida Atlantic on that Sept. 21, 2019 weekend, but has apparently pushed that game against the Owls back to 2024, according to its website.
The teams have not played. Miami, as of Aug. 2017, are 5-0 against MAC schools.
November, tentatively; location TBA
The back half of the local home-and-home. The game is scheduled to be played at FIU, but if its planned stadium expansion is late, Hard Rock Stadium could play host.
FIU’s on-campus Riccardo Silva Stadium, which expanded from 20,000 to 22,682 for a 2011 game against Duke, is in its current state too small to host a local event of this size. Considering the size and setup of the campus, the potential parking and transportation headaches could be crippling.
In 2007, FIU announced plans to eventually expand the stadium to 40-45,000 seats, but has yet to do so. It’s unclear how the sides would negotiate an alternate location, but FIU entered the agreement acknowledging its stadium needed work.
Miami hosts Louisville in ACC crossover play.
From the Coastal, the Hurricanes host Georgia Tech, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
They visit permanent crossover rival FSU, as well as Coastal opponents Duke, North Carolina and Pittsburgh.
They also have one non-conference opening, likely an FCS team.