By Edgar Thompson
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
An extra regular-season game in college football wouldn't necessarily mean more games between the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators.
But the addition of a 12th game to the current 11-game schedule, beginning in 2006, would increase the opportunity for the in-state rivals to meet.
Miami coach Larry Coker is one of the few coaches who is not in favor of the NCAA adding a 12th regular-season game.
UM and Florida have played each other only twice in the regular season since 1987. Those games were in 2002 and 2003, when the NCAA experimented with a 12-game schedule.
The NCAA Division I Management Council supported legislation Monday to make the 12th game permanent for Division I-A and I-AA teams. Final approval is needed from the NCAA Board of Directors, which meets April 28.
"We'd like to play on a regular or irregular basis with Florida," UM Athletic Director Paul Dee said Tuesday. "Maybe twice every five years or twice every eight years."
Dee said he and Florida AD Jeremy Foley have not discussed an annual game. The schools are slated to meet in 2008, but a 12th game would give schedule-makers more wiggle room.
If the proposal passes, the Hurricanes and Gators could balance their schedules with a high-profile, highly anticipated rivalry game, instead of simply balancing their budgets by playing as many home games as possible.
"This way, you can play home and home," Dee said, adding that he and Foley also want to expand their schedules nationally, which a 12th game would allow. Foley said Tuesday that discussing the issue was premature until the NCAA Board of Directors votes.
A 12th game has been opposed by UM coach Larry Coker and the Atlantic Coast Conference, which was the only league to vote against the proposal Monday.
Coker said UM already struggles to find opponents for an 11-game schedule. In addition, another regular-season game could force a team to play up to 14 games in a season if it plays in a conference championship ? which the ACC will begin next season ? and a bowl game.
A one-game playoff also has been widely discussed to determine a national champion, creating the potential for 15 games.
"How many games do you want to add?" Coker said. "I mean, really. I think there is a limit … I don't know what that magic number is."
The ACC said academics could suffer in an effort to increase revenues.
"We believe the season is long enough at 11 games," said Ron Wellman, the athletic director at Wake Forest and chairman of the ACC athletic directors. "We actually enjoy the bye week."
But for a school such as Florida Atlantic University, which isn't associated with a Bowl Championship Series conference like Wake Forest is, a 12th game is an opportunity to increase revenues and enhance its profile by luring a good non-conference opponent to Boca Raton.
"A 12-game schedule provides many opportunities for a program like ours ? a program that is coming onto the Division I-A scene in its fifth year of existence," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "It allows programs that currently have eight or nine home games to go on the road and still maintain a home schedule."
FAU once played 14 games in a season when it participated in the Division I-AA playoffs. FAU added a 12th game last season when it visited Hawaii, because a game in Honolulu does not count against the current 11-game limit.
That extra game would be allowed even if the NCAA's regular season expands to 12 contests, said Lois Manin, the sports information director for Hawaii. Theoretically, a team playing Hawaii could play 15 games, including a conference championship and bowl game.
The NCAA probably never counted on this when it increased the schedule from 10 games to 11 in the early 1970s.
Dee said one group that doesn't seem to mind the change is the players.
"Our kids just like to play, and the more they play, the happier they are," he said.