Posted: 3:13 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, 2013
By Jason Lieser
Gators coach Will Muschamp says all he is concerned about right now is beating Toledo next Sunday and he is not thinking about the recently released 2014 SEC schedule that sends his team to Alabama.
That’s sort of true, but not entirely. Turns out he does have some thoughts on visiting the mighty Crimson Tide, winner of the past two national championships.
“At the University of Florida we embrace whoever we play and whatever happens,” Muschamp said this morning. “We’ve been asked to play a cross-division opponent with LSU. We don’t gripe and complain about it, we embrace it. We embrace things at Florida. Whatever our league asks us to do we’ll certainly do that and look forward to it.
“At the end of the day, no one wants to say it, but it comes down to matchups. People want to see Florida and Alabama play. I know that’s not the company line, but that’s the bottom line. We look forward to it.”
This will be the Gators’ fifth regular-season game against Alabama since 2005. The only SEC Eastern Division team to play the Crimson Tide more often in that time span is Tennessee, which faces Alabama every year as a permanent cross-division rival. Georgia has not played the Crimson Tide since 2008.
In 2014, Florida’s crossover games are at Alabama and home against LSU. Those teams combined to go 23-4 a year ago. Georgia, meanwhile, will face Auburn and Arkansas, two rebuilding programs that combined to go 7-17 last season.
Muschamp does not care.
“There’s a rumor going around they’re going to ask us to play nine conference games next season and rest of the league play eight,” he joked. “And if they do we’ll embrace it. What a wonderful opportunity.”
Florida’s last meeting with Alabama came in Muschamp’s debut season (2011), and the Crimson Tide won 38-10 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Gators have not won in the series since the 2008 SEC championship game and have not won at Bryant-Denny Stadium since 1998.
Alabama coach Nick Saban was Muschamp’s boss at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins from 2001 through ’05.