University of Miami

NCAA approves request by Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators to move up season opener

Diaz: Our team isn’t far from competing for championships

The Hurricanes football coach Manny Diaz says, "Maybe it just takes me". as he speaks to the media at the University of Miami on Wednesday, February 6, 2019.
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The Hurricanes football coach Manny Diaz says, "Maybe it just takes me". as he speaks to the media at the University of Miami on Wednesday, February 6, 2019.

Time to update your football calendar.

The NCAA has accepted a joint waiver request by the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators to move up their 2019 Camping World Kickoff season opener one week earlier to Aug. 24 instead of the originally scheduled Aug. 31.

The neutral site game will kick off at 7 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando and will be televised by ESPN.

The date change, sure to upset Hurricanes and Gators fans who already booked their air travel and hotel reservations (or carved out their vacation time), was spurred by the initial request by ESPN to use the game to help kick off the celebration of the 150th year of college football.

The date change was approved by the NCAA on Thursday.

“I want to thank the NCAA, ESPN, Florida Citrus Sports, CFB150, Inc., and the University of Florida for their cooperation and support throughout this process,’’ Miami athletic director Blake James said in a released statement. “We understand that the new game date could affect Hurricanes fans who had already made travel plans for the original game date. We will work diligently with any of those affected to help ensure that they can still attend the Camping World Kickoff and have a great experience.”

According to UM, “both schools have had conversations with primary air carriers asking that they provide relief for fans who need to change their plans. Florida Citrus Sports is also in contact with the Orlando tourism and lodging community and will enlist their support to accommodate travel revisions prompted by the change in game date.”

James told the Miami Herald last week that “It’s the 150th year of college football’’ and that the organization called the College Football 150th Anniversary — also known as CFB150 — “along with ESPN are looking to have a marquee matchup to open up the year.’’

James said at that point regarding fans who have purchased tickets or made travel plans: “If this were something that were to happen, a lot of things have to be figured out. Those are issues.’’

The date change might allow UM and UF to start summer practices a week early. Practice dates have not been released.

Two other college football games are being played on Aug. 24: Samford vs. Youngstown State in the 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff in Montgomery, Alabama; and Arizona at Hawaii — both FBS schools.

The Canes (7-6 in 2018) will now have a week off before their Sept. 7 Atlantic Coast Conference opener at North Carolina. UF (10-3 in 2018) will have a week off before playing host to Tennessee Martin on Sept. 7.

Kevin Weiberg, executive director of the CFB150, told the Miami Herald last week that “when ESPN informed us they were looking to do something like that, we just thought it would be a terrific promotion for the start of the college football season with a focus on the 150th anniversary. The addition of a high-profile FBS game just provides a terrific launch to the anniversary season.’’

CFB100, per its website, has partnered with the College Football Playoff “to celebrate the good in the game.’’

The Canes also are finalizing details regarding the likelihood of playing their spring game April 20 at Camping World Stadium. UM coach Manny Diaz said during a Thursday teleconference that the spring dates and scrimmage locations will be announced soon.

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Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.