After years of negotiations, Florida and Miami made it official on Tuesday: The Gators and Hurricanes will meet in Orlando in the 2019 Camping World Kickoff, Florida announced in conjunction with ESPN Events and Camping World Tuesday afternoon.
"We are pleased to have partnered with Florida Citrus Sports and ESPN Events to kick off the 2019 season against Miami," Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said. "Orlando is a great Gator city and we look forward to playing in front of our fans from all over the state of Florida and beyond."
"We always want to provide the fans with the ultimate experience, and the Gators meeting the Hurricanes in the heart of Florida certainly delivers that," said Pete Derzis, senior vice president for ESPN Events.
Miami athletic director Blake James also provided a statement to Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald:
"We are excited to have this opportunity to play the University of Florida in Orlando. There have been so many memorable games between our two institutions and I am confident that all of our alumni and fans will enjoy seeing the two teams square off in the Citrus Bowl."
Meanwhile, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis — whose company is also plastering its name on the former Florida Citrus Bowl, which will be known as Camping World Stadium from Wednesday — sure does sound like he has a passing familiarity with football, or something.
"I am thrilled that a Florida and Miami matchup is on the schedule," said Marcus Lemons, chairman and CEO of Camping World and host of "The Profit" on CNBC. "This is the type of high-quality matchup that will drive fans to Camping World Stadium. This matchup will be thrown down at the 50-yard line."
Lemonis was born in Lebanon, but grew up in Miami. He hinted at the announcement of the matchup, which has been in the works since at least 2014, in an assuredly professionally-designed graphic late Monday night.
It's a new day! @ESPN @FOXSports @USATODAY @ABCNetwork @CBSSports @nypost @FOX5Atlanta @dallasnews @MiamiHerald pic.twitter.com/sBpINL7b1j— Marcus Lemonis (@marcuslemonis) April 26, 2016
Miami did not to announce the meeting through its website or its official all-sports or football program Twitter accounts until 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, despite Miller Degnan writing that the Hurricanes had "followed (Florida) with their own release" in the a post published just before 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. Given how eager some Miami fans are to push a narrative in which Florida has been "running" from the Hurricanes since dropping them from their schedule in the late 1980s, one would think an announcement of a future game with a cowardly program that shrunk from the task of playing the big, bad 'Canes might be news worth trumpeting to the world, or at least tapping Pitbull to remix.
The delay probably didn't have anything to do with that deal coming from negotiations that leave Foley being able to announce a neutral-site game in Orlando — "a great Gator city" that sits under two hours from Gainesville and just more than three and a half from Miami, and a site that James said would be "not real neutral" in 2014. Right?