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ESPN and an organization celebrating the 150th year of college football are trying to persuade the NCAA to move the University of Miami’s opener against the Florida Gators in Orlando from Aug. 31 to Aug. 24, and a decision is pending.
The NCAA is considering the request, and ESPN and the two schools hope to get an answer quickly, though the NCAA hasn’t told the parties when a decision will be announced. The NCAA must approve it because it would require moving up the date that the two schools are permitted to begin practice.
If the game is moved to Aug. 24, it would be on ABC or ESPN in prime time. UM says it was told the game will be in prime time if it remains Aug. 31.
“It’s the 150th year of college football and they [an organization called CFP 150] along with ESPN are looking to have a marquee matchup to open up the year,” UM athletic director Blake James said by phone early Thursday morning, declining to say whether it’s something that UM and UF would like to see happen or the likelihood of it happening.
Asked about potential issues for fans who have purchased tickets or made travel plans, James said: “If this were something that were to happen, a lot of things have to be figured out. Those are issues.”
UM released this statement at midday Thursday: “This past December, Miami, Florida and Florida Citrus Sports were approached by ESPN, who had the College Football 150th organization’s support (the entity overseeing the upcoming season-long celebration), to explore interest in moving the Camping World Kickoff game in Orlando to August 24 as part of a special kick off day celebrating the sports 150th anniversary season.
“This is a unique and rare opportunity that would showcase college football, both storied programs, and the state of Florida. In January, a waiver was submitted to the NCAA seeking approval to move the game under this premise. Both schools, along with ESPN, College Football 150th Anniversary organization and Florida Citrus Sports, understand that fans, and the teams themselves, need time to make necessary arrangements should the waiver be granted. A decision is anticipated shortly.”
Kevin Weiberg, executive director of the College Football 150th Anniversary organization, also known as CFB150, told the Miami Herald on Thursday that UM and UF submitted the waiver request “jointly.’’
“We always knew that if there was going to be another game moved to August 24 that it would require approval by the NCAA through a waiver process because the season is already 14 weeks in length, Weiberg said. “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.’’
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.
ESPN believes UM-UF would be ideal for Aug. 24 because of the historical significance of the matchup and the tradition of the schools and because the schools are close geographically and would make it logistically easier to move.
It’s also a game that was arranged by ESPN, which made it a logical game to request to move to Aug. 24. ESPN wants to surround the game with CFP 150 programming.
If the change is granted, UM would have a week off before its Sept. 7 game at North Carolina. UF would have a week off before playing host to Tennessee Martin on Sept. 7.
CFB150, an organization formed to “celebrate 150 years of college football’‘ in 2019, per its website, has partnered with the College Football Playoff “to celebrate the good in the game.’‘
A video trailer that highlighted the partnership was released at the recent CFP National Championship game between Alabama and eventual winner Clemson.
“College football has shaped our lives for 150 years,’‘ the video begins. “It has provided educational opportunity, It has developed future leaders. It has impacted communities....Through 2019, we invite you to join a year-long celebration at CFB150.org and @CFB150. The College Football Playoff and College Football 150th anniversary, partners in celebrating the good of the game.’‘
SPRING FOOTBALL UPDATE
James told The Miami Herald that UM hopes to have three scrimmages during spring football, with one in Miami-Dade, one likely in Orlando and one in a city to be determined. The Miami and Orlando scrimmages are expected to be open to the public, and the third might be, as well.
He said it’s possible that none of them will be designated as a spring game.
Hard Rock Stadium is unavailable for UM’s spring game because of a concert.