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Florida A&M petitioning for games in fall, eyeing matchup with Florida State

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 3:36 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Florida A&M football program has asked the NCAA for a waiver to play a four-game non-conference schedule in the fall of 2020 and has set its sights on the Florida State Seminoles as a potential opponent, according to sources familiar with both schools.

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which FAMU will be leaving after the 2020-21 athletic season, cancelled fall sports in July, but a source familiar with the situation tells WCTV the league is trying to put together an abbreviated conference football schedule in the spring.

FAMU head coach Willie Simmons tells WCTV the school has reached out to all of the FBS teams across the state to see about the potential of playing in the fall, saying the talks are preliminary in nature.

“We have put out fillers to the seven schools in the state system who play football,” Simmons said. “Just to see what there interest would be if we ended up being able to play football this fall being that our conference has suspended the fall season. Our athletic director is vetting all possible opportunities at this point.”

The Rattlers and Seminoles have never met on the gridiron, despite only two miles separating Doak Campbell and Bragg Memorial stadiums. If the game is played at Doak Campbell, however, it will not be the first time the orange and green have taken the field; FAMU played five home games there in 1980 while Bragg Memorial underwent renovations.

FAMU Athletic Director Kortne Gosha says the program has talked with some schools but did not mention Florida State by name.

“I don’t know if any coaches have reached out to [Coach Simmons],” Gosha said, “But we have not had any conversation with any FCS schools. There have been some preliminary conversations with, for example, we have some conversations with South Florida. I’ve checked with some dates with FAU, but that was two, three weeks ago. I wouldn’t say that it’s story-worthy. There is definitely an appetite for [FAMU Football] in the fall, but we are a long way away from that point. There’s a lot of work that must be done before we get there.”

WCTV has reached out to Florida State athletics for comment on the potential game, but have yet to hear back.

The Seminoles still have an open spot on their schedule, thanks to the ACC’s revised schedule of 10 league games and one out of conference matchup to be held either at the team’s home stadium or somewhere in-state. The move was made to allow the league’s southern schools to play their traditional ACC-SEC rivalry games (FSU vs. Florida, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, etc.), a gesture quickly shot down as the Southeastern Conference announced it would be playing a conference only schedule this season.

While the ‘Noles and Fangs are no stranger in many sports, including an annual softball contest, the two schools’ “big three” men’s teams of baseball, basketball and football have not met since a 2002 baseball game at Dick Howser Stadium (a 17-7 FSU victory).

The two infamously last met on the hardwood in 1990 in a shortened game at the Donald L. Tucker Center in which FAMU was forced to forfeit the contest after a bench-clearing brawl before halftime.

If the move were to happen, FAMU would still be two games shy of a four-game non-conference schedule; the school is hoping to still play at UCF this fall, but would most likely need to replace D-II Albany State and future SWAC conference opponent Jackson State following the postponement of the SIAC and SWAC’s seasons.

It is unknown if Florida State would pick up the Rattlers as its 11th game, but a source inside the university is aware of Florida A&M’s interest to play.

The Rattlers are coming off their best season in two decades under now third-year head coach Simmons, compiling a 9-2 record while losing only one contest to FCS competition.

The Seminoles will begin the 2020 campaign with a new hope in first-year head coach Mike Norvell following 2019′s disappointing 6-7 season and a mid-season coaching change after Willie Taggart was fired as head coach in November.

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