If you only read headlines, you might think Florida’s bowl opponent was UCF. Since the end of the 2018 regular season, the biggest Gators football story has been… the fact that they don’t have UCF on any future schedules.
Florida and UCF were projected in November to meet in a bowl game. After Rivalry Week and conference championship games, projections changed. No. 10 Florida will play No. 7 Michigan in the Peach Bowl. No. 11 LSU and No. 8 UCF will meet in the Fiesta Bowl. UCF fans and media members lobbed accusations that Florida was “ducking” the Knights and got out of a bowl meeting.
In what was presumably an effort to clear the air, Florida AD Scott Stricklin discussed New Year’s Six bowl scheduling and potentially scheduling UCF in the regular season with Gators beat reporter Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel earlier this month. (UCF campus is in Orlando.)
Stricklin told Thompson he would open to scheduling UCF in the right situation, implying it would need to be a “two-for-one” (two games in Gainesville, one game in Orlando). UCF AD Danny White responded that the Knights were only interested in scheduling home-and-home series or neutral-site one offs with Power 5 teams.
The story has prompted an ongoing media debate. Some media members side with UCF. Others have said UCF should take Florida up on an offer of a two-for-one.
Sunday, UCF Associate AD of Communication Andy Seeley clarified that there never was in fact a formal “offer” from Stricklin.
I feel compelled to jump in here and remind everyone there was no “offer” to play.
The UF AD said they “would be open to” discussing it. That does NOT constitute any sort of offer … https://t.co/inJH4menOF
— Andy Seeley (@agseeley) December 16, 2018
It’s worth noting that Thompson reported Florida proposed a meeting sometime in the window of the 2012-15 seasons, but UCF declined. Stricklin became Florida’s athletic director in 2016.
The schools were scheduled to play again in 2007, but the Knights were released from their obligation, according to a document obtained through a public-records request.
Instead of playing at UF on Sept. 1, UCF played a road game against NC State on Sept. 1 before opening its new on-campus stadium with a game against Texas.
The document stated the schools instead would schedule a game at some point during the 2012-15 seasons. Handwritten notes on the document dated 2012 stated UCF associate athletics director David Hansen indicated the Knights preferred to pay UF $100,000 in lieu of scheduling a game at the Swamp.
It’s easy to see why Stricklin’s comments were interpreted as an offer, but Seeley’s clarification is important to remember. Maybe now a formal offer will be extended.