A common question asked: when, if ever, will Florida play a non-conference, regular season game outside of the state of Florida? You now have your answer. The Gators will open the 2017 season against Michigan in the 2017 Cowboys Classic in Arlington, TX.
Florida will technically play the role of the home team in this matchup, although there will nothing homey about it. Mark September 2, 2017 on your calendar, fans (if you are proactive enough to already have a 2017 calendar), as that could be the date the future of all Gators non-conference scheduling changes forever. Although there are many times we’d like to live in our SEC bubble while at the same time stay inside the boundaries of Florida for our non-conference games, this represents an item many fans have been waiting to check off of their wish lists.
We, as Gators fans, understand the schedule we face on an annual basis that comes with being a part of the SEC, but we also wonder what it would be like to play in one of those big, early season games. Florida now has its chance to experience something they haven’t in quite some time. But don’t expect this to become a common occurrence. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley has already said this could be a rarity.
“It will be very much the exception, not the rule, but to sit here and totally close the door on these opportunities just doesn’t make sense.”
Foley went on to say that the trip will be a great one for fans. While he likes the idea of seven homes games, he also thought this was an opportunity that was too good to pass up.
For the Gators, this game could go down in history as one of the program’s great moments, but the big question of who will be coaching Florida at that time remains. Will Muschamp will return for the 2014 season, but unless a turnaround occurs, 2017 is too far in the future to believe he’ll still be coaching the Gators at that time. If he is still employed by the University of Florida, he will be entering his seventh year at that point. That actually might be great news for Florida fans as it means he will have done something (actually, many things) very right in 2014 and beyond.
For now, we can concentrate on the game more than the man who will be leading the Gators to it. Florida plays Michigan at a larger-than-life neutral site and I, for one, will do everything in my power to be there.