Why the Georgia-Florida game will stay in JAX

 

I’m going to give you two very good reasons why the Georgia-Florida football game will remain in Jacksonville after the current contract expires in 2010.

Carl Brantley and Tom McMillen.

Carl and Tom are my best two friends in the world. We were fraternity brothers in college and have stayed very close for more years than I will admit in this space. College brought us together but college football—specifically the Georgia-Florida game—has helped to keep us together.

Carl lives in Colorado Springs. Tom is in Ringgold near Chattanooga. All three of us have pretty busy lives. But since 1981, with only one exception, we have gathered together in Jacksonville on the Georgia-Florida weekend to play golf, enjoy an adult beverage or two, and tell lies about our youth. We have friends in Ponte Vedra like Briz Dodd, who is our host, and Ben English, who for many years prepared the barbeque lunch for the Bulldog Club pep rally at Metropolitan Park. It is a tradition that never gets old.

I share this personal stuff in order to make a point: There are untold thousands of stories like mine about this game. I know people who have been staying in the same condominiums with the same group of friends for 25 years or more. Some bought their own condos in Amelia Island and St. Simons because of this game. They have standing golf games, poker games, cookouts, and shopping trips—all built around this event.

I just can’t see Damon Evans, the Georgia athletics director, telling those fans that this tradition, which began in 1933, is coming to an end.

Now Evans is a very smart man. He learned from his predecessor, Vince Dooley, that the only real  leverage the Georgia athletics director has in the negotiations with the city of Jacksonville is his ability to ultimately move the game. More than once over the years when the contract would come up for renewal, Dooley announced that he was taking the temperature of the Georgia people about the possibility of moving the game back to campus. Then Jacksonville would throw in a few things to sweeten the deal and the game would come back.

I understand where Damon Evans is coming from. He should listen to his head football coach, Mark Richt, who has been pretty consistent in his desire to move the game around. And you should know that from a scheduling standpoint, playing one of your SEC home games in Jacksonville every other year can create some headaches. And there is no doubt in my mind that if the game were played at the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Sports Council would make it special just like they have for other events that come to our city.

And certainly the merchants, hotels and restaurants in Athens would love to have another home game—especially that game. So there are all kinds of real world pressures to move this event.

But the one thing you DON’T do if you’re Evans is move the game because portions of your fan base think Florida has some sort of competitive advantage in Jacksonville. Yeah, the Gators are 16-3 in the series since 1990, but that doesn’t have anything to do with where the game is played.

After all, Vince Dooley was 17-7-1 against Florida from 1964-88. Back then it was the Florida people who wanted to move the game back to campus because they were convinced that Georgia had some magical spell in that building. There wasn’t any magic to it and that was proven when Dooley retired in 1988 and Steve Spurrier came to Florida in 1990. Spurrier mocked the idea that Georgia would have some kind of advantage in Jacksonville, which is an hour from the Florida campus.

In that 19-year stretch Georgia has won three times (1997, 2004, 2007). In the 16 losses I can think of only two times (2002, 2005) where I thought Georgia clearly had the better team and lost. The 2002 loss (20-13) I will never be able to explain. In 2005 (a 14-10 loss) quarterback D.J. Shockley could not play due to an injury. Eight of those 16 Georgia losses were to teams that won the SEC championship. Another loss was to a Florida team (1990) that would have won the SEC championship if not for violations created by the previous staff. Of those nine losses, four were to teams that either won the national championship (1996, 2006, 2008) or played for the national championship (1995). So Georgia hasn’t been losing to bad teams.

 Of course Georgia should have won more than three games in the past 19 years but again, it doesn’t have anything to do with where the game is played.

Evans said he’s not in the excuse-making business. Good for him.

Because here is the cold truth that Georgia fans have to face:  Florida has won more games than Georgia in the past 19 years because the Gators have a lot of really good players who have played better in the white-hot spotlight that this game creates. If Georgia wants to win more games against Florida the Bulldogs have to sign better players who play better, not ask for a change of venue.

 

 

283 comments Add your comment

Otto

May 19th, 2009
10:14 am

SOGADAWG, Spurrier had that and Urban does now. CMR needs to get that without gimmicks. I have defended CMR and think he has been a great coach but if his answer to UF is now dancing or moving the game which will not change things and will likely make it worse for the first few years, then UGA needs another leader.

ChadDawg

May 19th, 2009
10:18 am

As much as I love CMR–he doesn’t realize that UGA still OWNS UF in the all-time GA/FL series in Jacksonville. Why all of a sudden is temperature/travel etc an advantage to the Gators?? He has the right to his opinion, but that makes NO sense whatsoever. Beat the gators and problem solved. But don’t run crying out of Jax–because the venue is NOT the problem.

bigdawg01

May 19th, 2009
10:19 am

It is nice to have a fairly civil discussion without having to deal with all the “usuals” on this blog today.

I agree with the majority: Keep it in JAX.

Slow Freddie

May 19th, 2009
10:28 am

MightyKC: Enjoyed your post. Very funny and it really points out how inappropriate are comments about the weather advantage to one team or the other.

Eric: Are your briefs too tight or are you really that immature? I’ve never played a round of golf in my life but I can understand why others love the game and relish the ancillary activities surrounding the football game.

When the Iron Bowl was played in B’ham, it was weighted far into UA’s favor. As explained to me by a UA fan, bondholders of the stadium received first crack at any game or other production at Legion Field. AU fans received a very unfairly small percentage of the tickets so the game started off to the advantage of UA. With the UGA/UF tickets split evenly each year and each side having to face the sun every other year, I see no advantage to either side.

As for moving the game to the GA Dome even every fourth year, I have had 6 tix to the SEC CG since the game was moved to Atlanta and I wouldn’t think of tailgating near the Dome. The weather is miserable, the game is played at night, and that area is not very safe. Also, with the stadium in Jax seating 13,000+ more than the Dome, you are going to have at least 6,500 fans of each team who won’t get to see the game in person in Atlanta.

I have lived in Georgia over 20 years. I am surrounded by UGA, AU, and UA fanatics and I love it although I am an alum of another SEC school.

Coach "O"

May 19th, 2009
10:29 am

I NEED ANOTHER BEER! ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

innocent bystander

May 19th, 2009
10:33 am

Changes whcich are made don’t always sufficiently address the sources of failure. But when failure is consistent over time changes should be made. 3-16 is a more potent argument than any other argument. It’s certainly more pertinent than that any number of Georgia fans may enjoy a trip to Jacksonville once a year.Move the thing now while we have the chance. Damon my have more power than Coach Richt, but does anyone actually believe his reasoning is more to the point?

m

May 19th, 2009
10:35 am

Florida owns ugag…doesn’t matter where they play.

Paul Johnson also owns ugag…doesn’t matter where they play.

Ugag owned chan gomer gailey….but Thank God and Greyhound, he is gone forever…you dawgies are really going to miss him.

coachx

May 19th, 2009
10:36 am

Why not help out the Ga economy ? Why have UGA fans burn all their money for Florida’s economy and high taxed gas prices.

Why not make it truely neutral ?

UF players get to sleep in their own beds the night before the big game. Then UF has a short 2 hour bus ride on the day of the game.

UGA have a 2 hour bus ride to the airpot, then the hassells of pushing 100 men through the Atlanta and Jasksonville airport. Then another 1 hour bus ride to the hotel from the airport. Then after the game they have to do it all over again. It not only puts UGA at a disadvantage for the UF game. It also puts them at a disadvantage going into the following week.

It is anything but neutral on both a football front and a state econimic front. Even a complete moron can see that.

DBCOOPER

May 19th, 2009
10:37 am

Flew in from Afghanistan on leave to see GA-FL game last year. I Have never been more disgusted with a UGA football teams performance. The fans were early way before the UF fans at the game cheering our boys on. We are hungry for a victory that Georgia doesn’t seem capable of pulling – off. Short of a miracle it probably will not happen this year. Sometimes the team doesn’t perform up to the fan base. If that’s possible. Hundreds of thousands travel to Jax spend money put off more important things to watch a program that is not prepared and over matched.

82 Grad

May 19th, 2009
10:38 am

The game will stay in Jacksonville for money and tradition, not about what’s best for the UGA program.
I honestly don’t believe we lose all those past games in this series if half of them were played in Athens, and I don’t believe we would going forward. The rivalry will not suffer-remember the Auburn game used to be played in Columbus and that rivalry has survived. Jacksonville will win out in the end-they will do anything to save the $300 hotel rooms (3 night minimums), and $60 parking.

Bryan G.

May 19th, 2009
10:39 am

I don’t even know why it’s an issue.

If you’ve ever actually been to the game, you know that it’s nothing like any other game you’ve ever been to.

Since Richt has been coach, they have all been competitive except 2008. There’s no excuse for the losses in 2002 and 2003, though.

Our players (with the exception of 2007) just play tight in Jacksonville and make dumb mistakes. We need to play smarter and harder and the series will turn around.

Jack G.

May 19th, 2009
10:43 am

Tony

This is a big time football game, and the outcome could certainly effect the national rankings or the conference title and bowl picture. Prestige and millions are at stake. You want to negate any advantage Florida could have by playing in friendly confines. Dont give them an advantage that could cost you prehaps a national title.

Your reasons for keeping the game in Jax smell of your personal agenda and pleasure of an expense paid vacation with friends. I dont buy it.

Having said all that, I am not a Georgia fan, and I really dont care where the game is played. —Just trying to be objective

Grantland Rice

May 19th, 2009
10:45 am

Georgia vs Florida played in Florida every year, an hour from the UF campus. Naw, that’s not an advantage.

dgroy

May 19th, 2009
10:48 am

No reason not to keep the game in JAX……why would you want to ruin such a popular sports attraction by changing the venue every two years. Georgia’s problems has nothing to do with recruiting good players…..it’s recruiting good players that have their team in mind. All there doing on the field is trying to look good for the NFL Scouts who promise them a gazillion dollars when they sign. A good coach can spot those players who are not team players and should sit them down and have a long talk with them and if they don’t come around, kick ‘em off the team. CMR is a good football coach but he’s too nice. Somebody needs to stay behing him with a 2 X 4 and let him have it every so often just on general principles. I guess you’ve figured out by now that i’m not a UGA fan……go yellow jackets

fo shizzle

May 19th, 2009
10:48 am

Go home and home or stay in JAX…NEVER IN THE GEORGIA DOME!!!!!

Got 12?

May 19th, 2009
10:51 am

If the recent series was more competitive, this would be a non-issue for UGA fans.

Doesn’t CMR have a stellar SEC road game record?

Karl Childers

May 19th, 2009
10:57 am

I don’t know nothin about this topic but I do know I like dem french fried potaters…..

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……..

Rich

May 19th, 2009
10:57 am

It is simple >> three year rotation. Athens, Gainesville, Jacksonville. If the people who invested in St. Simons condos are upset about it, then go to your condo every year and watch the game on TV. However, if Richt gets his way, he better be prepared to win it in Athens or else…

Bill

May 19th, 2009
10:59 am

It’s funny how the few that can get tickets on an annual bases can dictate for the fan base. What’s even funnier is that at most schools in the SEC that if the HC wants something the AD typically caters to those demands/fellings however in this case they will likely be ignored. Can you imagine Myers or Saban wanting the venue changed? Looks like Richt is not so powerful…maybe some recruits need to take note.

Dawg fan

May 19th, 2009
10:59 am

The biggest factor hasn’t been pointed out by anyone. Plain and simple, UF won’t agree to moving the game anywhere. Put that with wealthy alums that care more about partying than the game itself and you end up with Jax or no game at all. No matter how much money was guaranteed, Crier would never agree to moving the game. Someone needs to ask the Crier what he thinks of changing the game to a home and home series. He would never in this lifetime agree. He has a good thing going and would rather drop UGA than change. Has nothing to do with the outcomes of the games, just much more desirable to play in ones backyard than it is to travel.

We are talking about football players right?

May 19th, 2009
11:02 am

Weather…are we seriously talking about weather??? Especially when it is roughly a 10 degree deference? How bout when the Dawgs were winning in Jax most of the time? Was the weather situation different then? Has global warming affected this game that much? With all the sophisticated uniforms, on field cooling equipment, lighter helmets, and GATORade- does someone as smart as CMR really think that weather is the issue? Simply put, Florida is the better program right now and CMR thinks he can over come this “weather issue” by playing at a different venue? Lord help him when he plays in Gville every other year and it’s 2 degrees warmer than Jax is.

Also, lets talk about team travel:

Flight from Athens to Jax- 1:30
Bus Ride from Gainesville to Jax- 1:30

Hum??? Seems like Florida does have an advantage…oh wait, no it doesn’t!

Aaron

May 19th, 2009
11:04 am

I’m all for tradition but sometimes change can be good. Start a new tradition and take the game to the campus’ where it belongs!

observor

May 19th, 2009
11:04 am

Ah yes, a UGA blog isn’t complete until the village retard ‘m’ has chimed in with his usual brilliant points.

M is the perfect example as to why people should never perform a prefrontal lobotomy on themselves.

We are talking about football players right?

May 19th, 2009
11:06 am

I like Rich’s comment about Richt needing to win if the series went to home and home. A few losses in Athens would be the end of his tenure.

Native Atlantan

May 19th, 2009
11:06 am

An AD has no control over how well a coach or a player performs. What he does control is generating a quality schedule that give his staff a chance to win a title. It’s not easy but it can be done.

It starts with getting the game on the campuses. That gives both Damon and Foley the flexibility to schedule (2 for 1) & (3 for 1) games along with a major non conference “home and home”. Those opponents will be much better than “you play one at mine and no return trip”.

There would be several WAC, Mountain West & probably a few Conference USA teams who would jump at that opportunity to do 2 for 1’s w/ either UGA or UF. That allows us to get rid of more directional schools, get better opponents & still provide the coaches the opportunity with a manageable schedule.

Then you also get to treat your loyal fanbase to a special non conference game at home basically every other year.

You can’t have all of this while having the Jax game along with an annual state rival out of conference game (GT and FSU).

Jax has served it’s purpose….having the larger facility that allows as many fans as possible to see the game in a somewhat decent logistical location. Things have changed. Sanford and Ben Hill Griffin Florida Fieldhouse both seat well over 5000 than the Gator Bowl.

Time to tell Jax to take a hike.

Got 12?

May 19th, 2009
11:07 am

Even Meyers and our beloved Saban can’t change tradition. Do you really think Saban wants to be in Gwinnett County tonight shaking hands and kissing babies as part of the Crimson Caravan? No. But, guess where he’ll be this evening at 6PM Eastern?

It’s all about money. Who is Evans going to listen to–Joe Six Pack who can barely afford to make it to Jacksonville every other year or the rich alumni who own property in the Jacksonville area and contribute millions to the athletics department every year?

Greg From Marietta

May 19th, 2009
11:08 am

The logic for keeping the game in Jacksonville is just plain stupid. It should be at each school on alternate games. If not, then play ALL games with ALL teams at a “supposed” neutral site in the other team’s home state. The people backing the current format don’t care about the players nor the fairness of the competition. Most are only concerned with their own good time and a “Party & get Drunk” mentality.

Joe D.

May 19th, 2009
11:10 am

It’s just plain stupid to continue playing that game in Jacksonville. Why…

* Both UF’s and UGA’s stadiums are larger than the Gator Bowl
* Why “travel” to a home game, especially for Georgia
* Unfair advantage to UF and UGA in relation to others in SEC Eastern Division who have to play at Gainesville and Athens…Other SEC East teams play home-and-home, why not UF-UGA?
* Play college football on a college campus…wow, what a novel idea

DawgGirl32

May 19th, 2009
11:11 am

I’m hearing a lot of:

“Just win!”

“We just need to man up and whoop those Gators!”

“If we just win, there won’t be a problem!”

“Just play smarter!”

“Beat the Gators and problem solved!”

Uhhhhh gee guys…don’t you think Coach Richt has thought of that? Do you think he likes going down to Jax and losing every year to our most hated rival? If it was as easy as “just win” I think we would have “just won” more than 3 out of 16. Obviously we’re not going to be pulling in #1 recruiting classes every year and I really don’t see Coach Richt being fired for a “better” coach anytime soon, so what’s going to happen next year and the year after that? We’re just going to keep losing?

I’m stealing this comment from a blog because I think it’s brilliant and pretty much sums up the two opposing attitudes on this blog:

“Yar, Yar, Yar…..I ain’t gonna be tucking mah tail and running from those gators. I believe in tradition and we just need to whoop them!!!

Versus

Every other year you are giving away a home game to your biggest rival who also is one of the most consistent winning programs since the early 90s. To willfully give away an advantage, no matter how small some believe it is, is idiotic. It is undeniable that not playing every other year at home, is the loss of a possible advantage.”

Tide rising

May 19th, 2009
11:14 am

I think the one poster had it best when she stated that UF won 52-17 and 52-14 in 1994 and 1995 when the game was temporarily in Athens 1 year and in Gainesville 1 year due I suppose to renovations in Jacksonville. If those were the scores then the Jax location obviously had no influence, especially for the loss in Athens. Florida was just better.

Everything is cyclical and a lot of rivalries go in streaks. We could talk all day about the various rivalries that have gone in streaks. Georgia just has to play better and reverse the current streak of gator dominance.

WTF???

May 19th, 2009
11:14 am

I am absolutely amazed at the way UGA/Florida fans are interacting with some civility on this blog. Too bad for the stray Nerd ruining it.

William Casey

May 19th, 2009
11:15 am

Doesn’t really matter. Coach Paul Johnson’s soon-to-be yearly beatdown of UGA will take a lot of the luster off the Fla-Ga game regardless of where it’s played. Roddy Jones is still running in Athens!

Natureboy809

May 19th, 2009
11:18 am

mightyKC, you’re a moron. Do you really think that guys who go through Sping and late summer practice in GEORGIA are concerned about heat with it being an average of 69 degrees in Jacksonville in October?
Add this to the list of lame excuses.
It is what it is. Right now, the game is played in Jacksonville every year. Our guys can either man up and start playing at a high level or just make excuses for the next 16 of 19.

I didn’t know the goal posts leaned to one side in Jax causing our kickers to miss chip shots. I guess the breeze from the Saint John’s River causes Martrez Milner and Terrence Edwards to drop wide open passes or Stafford to miss wide open TEs for TDs. All of the alcohol in the air causes guys to make stupid decisions like Jerrious Wynn getting frustrated and committing hands to the face on a UGA interception or George Foster to dry hump a Florida player on the ground negating a 30 yard gain.
The whole thing is that we hired Ray Goff while Florida hired Steve Spurrier. Add that to the bye week they got every year, and Florida swung the series so far in their favor physically and mentally, that we haven’t gotten it back yet on the mental side. Physically, we can match them.
It sounds cliche, but Georgia goes into the game hoping to win. Florida goes into the game knowing they can win. Then the first time something bad happens, it seems everyone from the top coaches down to the most casual fan thinks, “here we go again”.
I don’t see how we can blame location with a coach with Mark Richt’s road record in opponents’ home stadiums.

ray

May 19th, 2009
11:19 am

Who will be the 12,00 or so fewer fans who get tickets in Jax who will be left out of the GA Dome? I’ll bet it will be students and “new” boosters. These days, the venue is just a stage for the TV show anyway. They should play it in Bristol, to make it more convenient for ESPN.

Tide rising

May 19th, 2009
11:19 am

Observor,

I was wondering if anybody noticed that the village idiot “m” chimed in with his daily inane comment.

Just try to ignore him and remember my ode to m. It goes like this.

“Never argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and then beat you with experience.”

Huh?

May 19th, 2009
11:20 am

I’m sure those long weekends in St. Simons and Amelia Island are great and all, but you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t really care. Not all of us can make the trip to Jacksonville for this game every year. We have things called “jobs”, “kids”, and “bills” that prevent us from doing so. I would love to have this game in Atlanta every now and then. It would give some of us that aren’t among the chosen few to see this game. The old foggies all bent on “tradition” need to suck it up and take one for the team.

Mike

May 19th, 2009
11:20 am

Since Richt has publicly come out and declared that Florida has an advantage when the two team play in Jacksonville, it will always be so as long as he is the head coach.

Georgia players, coaches and fans will now always think that the UGA team walks into this game having to overcome the Florida “advantage.”

As a Gator, this makes me smile

austindog

May 19th, 2009
11:24 am

You old timers can continue to argue for the one and only reason the game should stay put, but you are FORBIDDEN to crab about the Rose Bowl Committee and their commitment to preserve tradition. You ARE the Rose Bowl Committee.

Hershal is gay

May 19th, 2009
11:24 am

Just as soon as Atlanta gives up the SEC game every so often, they can have the Florida/Georgia game on a rotation. How do the Dawgs feel about the SEC game moving out of Atlanta to maybe Tampa?

Mike

May 19th, 2009
11:27 am

Kid Ray asks;

“If you look at Fla run now…it would appear that they have an edge. But if you loko longer and include the Uga run under Dooler, you have a more balanced look. What is the record since 1960?”

Since 1960, Florida is ahead in the series 27-21-1.

Overall at Neutral sites, UGA leads the series 39-34

BhamWreck

May 19th, 2009
11:27 am

Heres something obvious that will NEVER happen. Send a ballot to every season ticket holder and take a vote, plain and simple. I can see both arguments very clearly. Tradition and beach vacations vs. home field advantage and keeping money in the state. Florida won’t lock down the talent in that state for much longer. FSU and Miami will be back soon and now you have emerging programs like South Fla, Central and others that can offer instant playing time to stars. Its all a cycle.

Urban Warfare

May 19th, 2009
11:27 am

Probably will never happen but why not some kind of a “middle ground” here…every 4 years have the game in Atlanta? I think alot of the fans, both Florida and Georgia, wouldn’t mind the change of pace every once in a while and everyone could stop complaining about where the game is. Hey, we Gators wouldn’t mind making that second trip to Atlanta every 4 years, even though the trips were barely more than a month apart!

Willie H

May 19th, 2009
11:30 am

Just becasue youve been doing it that way for years doesnt mean its the best way. We southerners are many times way too proud of traditions. If i was a decison maker in the UGA athletic department I would do wahtever it took to make the gators come to Sanford Stadium. If i was AD at Texas or Oklahoma I would get that one moved as well.

PMC

May 19th, 2009
11:31 am

So you’re saying…. other cities have no available golf courses, hotel rooms or… adult beverages?

This game couldn’t be played with the same furvor in Miami?

Ted Striker

May 19th, 2009
11:34 am

DawgGirl32 — excellent summary.

Tony, others — Anybody saying there’s a clear majority that says keep it in Jacksonville full-time is misguided. There are only so many UGA fans who get tickets and UGA makes the majority of it’s money off the high dollar hartman fund contributors. More and more of us are moving toward the idea of a rotation away from Jacksonville occasionally. I don’t know what the decision will be but Damon’s not just posturing for negotiations — he’s genuinely exploring all options.

cajdawg

May 19th, 2009
11:35 am

I’m a tired of this topic. As a life long UGA fan, I don’t understand why we play this game one hour from UF’s campus- plain and simple. I know the neutral site, party atmosphere is appealing; however, Oklahoma doesn’t play Texas an hour from Austin every year and two decades ago Auburn realized they were the fools for playing Alabama in Birmingham every year. When are we going to wise up, I don’t care that it is a tradition. All traditions come to an end- 100 years ago we road in horse carriages and 200 years ago doctors treated illnesses with leaches. As long as this game is played in Jacksonville we are the fools.

braveshater

May 19th, 2009
11:39 am

That was the dumbest point Ive heard to date. Im sure you and your well off colleagues could find a way to reach the event no matter where it was. I mean will Delta stop flying across the country if the game is moved, I doubt it. We all know your a Florida homer, and like CMR said “its not a neutral site”. I thought that was the point.

observor

May 19th, 2009
11:39 am

That’s a good perspective Tide….

PMC

May 19th, 2009
11:40 am

For the bulk of those 19 years since 1990 the Gators have had better talent AND better coaching. The Shockley year was bad luck with his knee. They also have simply choked in a few contests… but by and large… Florida had superior teams and superior coaches… It would have been close last year had simply Owens and Sturdivant been healthy… but it wasn’t… and it probably won’t be this year no matter where you play it.

austindog

May 19th, 2009
11:43 am

A quick note Willie, the Red River Shootout in Dallas is actually a mile or two closer to the OU campus than the UT campus. Both teams stay in a hotel before the game. No one busses in that morning.