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Why Play A 12th Game?

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Florida plays FIU this weekend in what has been called the 12th game; a game shoved between the end of the SEC schedule and the Thanksgiving weekend date against FSU. Florida first played this game in 2006. The 12th game gives UF seven home dates, bringing in millions of gameday revenue to the school and Gainesville.

When the 12th game was added, some of the powerhouse schools saw it as an opportunity to add a neutral site game (like Alabama-Virginia Tech, BYU-Oklahoma). Other schools scheduled home-and-home series reminiscent of great matchups before the era of conference TV deals (USC-Ohio State, Georgia-Oklahoma State). Florida has taken a third route; using the 12th game exclusively as an ATM machine. Yes, Florida scheduled Miami for a home-and-home, but won't add Miami on a permanent basis. UF clearly looks at the 12th game as a way to make money and nothing else.

The Gators' younger players can get experience by playing this weekend. But is there more experience gained in one game than there is in spring training camp? The game will start with Florida's regulars against a team famous for inciting a riot when they played Miami. Every game is a risk for injury, but wouldn't you rather those players risk injury against a legitimate team instead of FIU? Schools that schedule a 12th game this late in the season are doing it under the assumption that there will be no injuries and the money they take in will fill enough coffers.

College football has always had weak sister games, so UF's schedule of Charleston Southern, Troy and FIU isn't that surprising. Plus, FSU is out-of-conference, so maybe the weak sister games are necessary. But if you're adding an extra week for games, isn't it better for the health of the team to make that a bye week? Maybe I'm short term minded and I want to win in January, or I'm selfish and I don't care that one home football game can pay for a season of lacrosse games. But an extra regular season game means an extra chance to get injured in a game or practice. That will impact UF's bowl game, which has a far larger impact than an extra home game. The most extreme cost of this game (serious injury) is rare, but it far outweighs the benefits. Playing the 12th game only puts guys at risk.