You read that right, Jeremy Foley actually scheduled a non conference opponent outside of the state of Florida for the first time ever. And boy, am I excited.
The last time Florida left the Sunshine State for a regular season non conference game was in 1991, when 17th ranked Syracuse upset the 5th ranked Gators in the Carrier Dome 38-21, and the last time Florida won a non conference game played outside its state was back in 1989, when the Gators beat up on Memphis (then known as Memphis State) 38-13.
Before I say more, I’d like a little credit for this: I told everybody this was coming almost three years ago.
If nothing else, it’s a good indicator that Florida plans on beefing up its non conference schedule in future years in anticipation of the new college football playoff. The SEC may be the career mode of college football right now, while the other conferences are merely “play now” mode, but this may not be the case forever. It just takes one bad season by the SEC collectively for another conference to rise up and snatch the title of the most feared conference in the land. And when the SEC’s prestige and top to bottom talent drops off (and if Florida State happens to suck that year), that could be where a non conference win over a team like Michigan could really come in handy.
This also means that we could be seeing the Gators renew their rivalry with Miami. I’ll touch on this some time soon, but there are a number of ways to do it- even with a nine game SEC schedule. The good news for the future of that rivalry, though, is the mere fact that Florida is scheduling more legitimate teams than just FSU. Scheduling Miami would actually be easier, because, hey, it’s in state, and just a five hour bus ride, and plus, they already want to play Florida.
But that’s jumping the gun a bit. For now, I’m just happy to see Foley finally do something that can make the fans excited about football, because his last two coaching hires (Zook and Muschamp) and his scheduling habits have been… just awful.