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

Pago Flyer

May 19th, 2009
11:44 am

The DAWGS always have a Top Ten recruiting class…yet, nothing happens.
It’s getting embarrassing to be “run out of JAX”!

Otto

May 19th, 2009
11:44 am

Tide Rising has a point. Did moving the Iron Bowl from Legion Field make the game any less streakish? How is CMR’s record on the road. Outside of UF CMR’s team have traveled very well. There is no reason other than coaching and talent that UGA can’t win in Jax regularly. Dooley did it as other did before him.

Move the SECCG from the Atlanta Dome? Please take it to Tampa or Jax. Let the 2 top SEC teams take talent from your state.

Mike, I agree it should make you Gators smile. It isn’t making me happy. Spurrier came in at a time when UGA owned the series and turned it into a home game. CMR could have done the same but coming out against it does him know good.

ugablows

May 19th, 2009
11:44 am

all of this crying and bellyaching about jax just really makes Richt look like a d@mn chicken$hit

Kendawg

May 19th, 2009
11:44 am

There is nothing neutral about having the game in Jaxville. Why not play every other year in Atlanta’s Dome. That would be as neutral as Jacksonville.

austindog

May 19th, 2009
11:51 am

Would Florida agree to play LSU every year in the Superdome? And be charged a homegame every other year to do it? Of course not. No one at Florida would be dumb enough to surrender even the slightest advantage to a heated rival.

murfdawg

May 19th, 2009
11:53 am

Since the Dawgs have started a new tradition….losing to fl every year,let the whining stay in Athens or Atlanta. Some day when they grow up and decide to beat the gators (like we used to)they will be glad to play them anywhere, anytime.

Tony, it took real men like us to go into hostile territory every year and take over their condos, their golfcourses, their bars, beat their beloved gators and bark all the way back to Atlanta. We are a dying breed.So until the Dawgs on the field MAN UP and start beating fl, all you will hear is whining about the weather, playing in Florida, travelling to Jax, etc,etc.

Rejoice and celebrate Tony, for we lived in a time when men were men, Dawgs were Junkyard Dawgs, and Gators were booger eating reptiles. See ya Halloween!

Atlanta Gator

May 19th, 2009
11:55 am

Why should the Florida-Georgia game stay in Jacksonville?

Simply put, the neutral site and 55-50 seating makes the game something special. Something that makes the game must-see football even for casual Dawg and Gator fans, and even college football fans who aren’t affiliated with either school. Move it to a home-and-home series, and it’s just another SEC game. Nothing more, nothing less. Just like Tennessee-Georgia or Florida-LSU. It will no longer be the exclamation point on October.

As for the reasons for moving it?

It’s hotter in Jacksonville than Athens? I’ve lived in north Georgia a good bit of my adult life, and it’s pretty damn hot in Athens, too, during the summer and early fall. Every bit as hot and humid as Jacksonville.

Drive time vs. flying time? It’s the same.

Home field advantage? How is there a home filed advantage when there’s 50-50 seating for the fans, and the refs will be the same regardless of where the game is played.

Does anyone really believe that physically playing the game within the geographic boundaries of the state of Florida is the reason that the Dawgs’ record against the Gators is 3-16 over the last 19 seasons? The Gator coaches and players don’t care where the game is played; they expect to win more often than not, regardless. The Jacksonville game location is for the majority of the Dawg and Gator fans, not the players of either team.

Here are the relevant numbers—-the Gators’ win-loss record at the Georgia Dome over the last 19 seasons is 7-2 (losses to Alabama in 1992 and 1999). The Gators are 1-0 at Sanford Stadium. The Dawgs have played 6 bowl games in Florida during those same 19 years, and won all 6 of them. The Dawgs are 0-1 at Florida Field. If the proposition is that the Dawgs are losing because the game is played in Florida, the statistics do not support the hypothesis. It seems to have something to do with the Gators, not the state of Florida, regardless of where the game is played.

That having been said, if the UGA athletic director and head coach want to move the game to a home-and-home series when the present contract expires, that is their right and privilege, and no amount of “crying” from Gator fans will matter.

Atlanta Gator

May 19th, 2009
11:56 am

That was a typo, of course. I meant “50-50 seating.” Freudian slip, I suppose.

BhamWreck

May 19th, 2009
11:58 am

For UGA fans in Savannah, Valdosta and all of South Georgia it may be closer to travel to Jacksonville. All UGA fans don’t necessarily live in Athens. By the way, we should just be glad as Tech and UGA fans that our AD’s don’t have the wimpy scheduling philosophy that Alabama and Auburn have. They have publicly stated that of the 4 out of conference games they want to play 1 team from a BCS conference and then play 3 teams that will agree to only play in Tuscaloosa or Auburn (North Texas, UT Chatt, FIU, La Tech, Furman, and Ball State all games for 2009 for Bama and Auburn) Pretty weak

CharlotteGator

May 19th, 2009
11:58 am

I think the best point made in all these comments has been CMR’s road record. How can you praise his ability to go on the road and and have great performances, but then complain about the JAX advantage? In fact, how does he reconcile in his own mind that he can go anywhere else and win, except Jacksonville. Seems to me that if you can win in Tuscaloosa with those crazies, then winning in JAX would seem easy. It really just comes down to the mental edge and coaching.

As has been said, talent for the most part is even, save some injuries in different years which affected games and maybe outcomes (Shockley, Tebow, etc.), so you have to look at coaching and UGA’s mental approach to the game.

It’s a little disingenuous to constantly preach UGA leading the overall record, but then complain about Florida’s advantage in JAX. If you’re leading the overall record, then clearly, you know how to win in JAX. In fact, going away from JAX actually improved Florida’s standing in the overall record.

wasted away in barnerville

May 19th, 2009
12:00 pm

Today is a holiday @ university of allbarn! It’s gene cheezestik day!!! 5-19!!! NOW THAT’S A TRADITION IN THE MAKIN’!!!

Huh?

May 19th, 2009
12:07 pm

If there is an external factor that impacts the outcome of this game is the scheduling disparities. Florida almost always has an off week before that game and UGA very rarely does. Its been only very recently that this pattern has shown any signs of changing. I haven’t compared the future schedules so for all I know this could just be an anomaly. Florida may go back to their traditional off week in 2010 while Georgia has to play an SEC opponent. That is NOT fair. I’ll go ahead and save you some time haters by admitting that I am whining and its an excuse. I also happen to not give two craps. Its the truth.

I’d be willing to keep it in Jacksonville if the Gators give up their traditional off week before the game until UGA can catch up with them in that department. We’ve only had one off week this entire decade so its going to take some time.

Atlanta Gator

May 19th, 2009
12:09 pm

austindawg—-Most Gator fans have fond memories of the Sugar Bowl and the Superdome. If LSU were willing to split the tickets 50-50, I think you would find considerable support for the neutral site. Spending a long fall weekend in New Orleans would sure as heck beat playing in Death Valley every other year, with 82,000 screaming Tiger fans going berserk.

ed

May 19th, 2009
12:10 pm

We have the facilities here in ga, to support having the ga-fla game, but georgia takes it on the in place the game in florida. Forget tradition lets have the game at the dome, i’m sure arthur blank wouldn’t mind

uuugh.

May 19th, 2009
12:11 pm

Dammit m…How many times do we have to request the retirement of “Thank God and Greyhound” for Pete’s sake!?

UGA losing the game as often as they have the last few years is not a good reason to move the game. The temperature is not a good reason to move the game. Some clown protecting his investment in real estate that’s main selling point is the UGA Florida game is not a reason to keep the game there. The loss of revenue Gainsville and Athens loses to a city that really doesn’t have any skin in the game might be.

Let’s face it though, the big money donors tht pay the coaches and player’s salaries do get to pick where the game is played…and rich folks like golf. Tony is probably right on the money here…but by accident. The big money guys get to choose because of their money–not their traditions.

AU

May 19th, 2009
12:12 pm

Hummmm, whose better to determine if there is an advantage to playing in Jacksonville vs. Home and Home? Tony Barnhart, some drunkin alumni that likes golf, or the freakin head coach who’s intimate with the program and the workings of a road game? Gee, I think you could understand why the iron bowl was finally moved.

m

May 19th, 2009
12:12 pm

Whining and crying….we have finally found something you dawgies are good at.

45-42…it never gets old. You might as well get used to it.

Otto

May 19th, 2009
12:13 pm

Huh?..under Dooley UGA almost alway had a slack OOC game or the week off before UF. It changed after Dolley but Spurrier took a page from Dolley’s book and gave his team an off week. CFBDatawarehouse.com has both teams schedules. It is rather eye opening. The news SEC rotation has forced both teams to play a conf game before Jax in most years.

Wayne

May 19th, 2009
12:14 pm

The Iron Bowl moved with no known after taste. This should be about what is best for the team and it’s fans and the economy. Why spend money in Florida, when you can spend it in Georgia. Your petty personal desires do not and should not outweigh the over benefits to the Georgia football team. They can’t seem to win in Jacksonville on a consistant basis so a change in venue is a must. Ask Alabama and Auburn.

Otto

May 19th, 2009
12:19 pm

The Iron Bowl was never truly 50/50. Who wants to go to B’ham in November? Finally Auburn’s stadium was bigger than Legion Field at the time the game was moved.

The WLOCP is sure publicity for the game the same as the Tx. OU RRS. It is a great story line. Dallas has the state fair in the back ground. UGA and UF have the beach and the last sunny trip before the winter. The game make for a great atmosphere for the game and script for the media. UGA UF is just another big SEC game without Jax.

How much media attention does Bama UT get and it is the 2nd most historic out of state rivalry in the SEC? If you say the 3rd weekend in October outside of a SEC fun what kind of reaction do you get? The WLOCP gets name recognition. The game can be a great asset to UGA if the Athletic Department will go after it.

Teacher, Too

May 19th, 2009
12:24 pm

I love the game in Jacksonville. If the game were home and home, it just wouldn’t be the same atmosphere. The stadium is split down the middle orange/blue and red/black. And, as others have pointed out, more fans of both teams get to go to the game because the stadium is bigger than the Dome.

For those who say that because the game is in Florida, there is a home field advantage for the Gators…huh? Doesn’t Jacksonville boast the largest Georgia alumni club (or is the largest alumni club outside the state of Georgia)? I grew up in Jacksonville, and I do remember there being as many Georgia fans as UF fans.

Also, there are many, many UGA fans who stay in South Georgia. They are pumping lots of dollars into S. Georgia’s economy.

Finally, really, who comes to Atlanta for four or five days to make a vacation out of the SEC game? With the Fl/Ga game, many people come several days before to enjoy the beaches and golf courses. It’s fun and it’s a tradition. Why spoil it?

When I’ve gone to the SEC game, there is no “football” atmosphere because you don’t have the traditional tailgating that accompanies a rivalry game. No atmosphere.

Boo moving the game. I gladly travel to Jax beach every year (as well as almost every home football game). Some things are worth preserving, and this tradition is one of them.

Exley DAWG

May 19th, 2009
12:28 pm

This article is why I always love to read your stuff Tony. From one DAWG fan to another, thanks.

Huh?

May 19th, 2009
12:29 pm

“The news SEC rotation has forced both teams to play a conf game before Jax in most years.”

This is a recent development. I’d be interested to see if this trend will continue in the future. At any rate, I think Florida should have to go to Baton Rouge the week before they play us to even things out. Lets see how they like them apples. Their odds of surviving that stretch would not be good.

Tayloe Harding

May 19th, 2009
12:30 pm

Great remarks, as usual,Tony. One comment from me: in addition to the 2002 and 2005 teams, the 1992 Bulldog team (Hearst and Hastings and Zeier) was better than the really young Gators team that year and lost 26-24.

alsim

May 19th, 2009
12:44 pm

Jacksonville is boring. There is nothing to do there. It only has one major sports team and no major university.

If I am going to spend money on a football trip, I want to make it worthwhile.

.

Sautee Dawg

May 19th, 2009
12:47 pm

Tony, i agree with you, this game couldn’t be played anywhere else and have the same feel to it and the same reunion type get togethers that have followed this game for over 50 years.
UGA’s record in this game is not because of location, CMR has a untouchable record playing games on the road, it’s simply a matter of whose team is better prepared to play on the last saturday in october.

Get it on campus ...

May 19th, 2009
12:48 pm

Enter your comments here

m

May 19th, 2009
12:49 pm

Keep it in Jacksonville…I would just like to have a cut of the chewing tobacco concession money. Could retire rich off you sec rednecks.

g8trs99

May 19th, 2009
12:49 pm

The GA Dome does not hold Enough people. The dome is in the ballpark of 65k. They pack 82k in Jax Muni. Stadium. What happens when you UGA fans that usually get a ticket get shut out in your own state because you don’t donate enough to get a ticket to the “smaller GA Dome?”

MoneyDawg

May 19th, 2009
12:50 pm

Just tired of enriching Florida with UGA alumni money that would be much more wise to keep in state. Let the UF folks come and buy some of 0ur condos! Let them enrich Georgia with their money for a change. Let them fly while we take a leisurely stroll to the stadium.

Stupid argument to keep it going just for traditions sake. We aren’t quite as stupid now…are we? Or should we remain ignorant and scoring low SAT scores just because that is how it has always been? Stupid logic!

g8trs99

May 19th, 2009
12:50 pm

FYI Jax is one hour from the GA line. The superdome is 10hrs from FL. Not a good compairison.

austindog

May 19th, 2009
12:51 pm

Atlanta Gator, I think you’re glazing over the biggest issue. Flying is not the same as driving. Traveling 362 miles is not the same as traveling 71 miles. Traveling any particular distance is not the same as traveling 5x that distance.

Will

May 19th, 2009
12:52 pm

To all of you spoiled UGA fans who live above Macon and want to move the game. Kiss my ass! Every game week you are able to get in your cars and can be in Athens within an hour or two. Where as from Valdosta, it takes 4+. However, the one game a year that myself and about 20,000 others can drive under 2 hours and see my dawgs play (pathetically by the way), you guys want to move the game because its and unfair advantage to UF. That’s a crock of crap. Like Tony said. UF has had a better team…… and it doesn’t look like that will change in the next few years. but who cares, it’s fun and will remain that away unless selfish fans like you get your way. Which usually you do.

Urban Warfare

May 19th, 2009
12:58 pm

It’s just a shame we all missed Lane Kiffin day! It was April Fools Day. We could’ve all had a big party and served orange Kool-aid! Could’ve had it right there at the Pahokee town hall! And we wouldn’t have even had to order in clowns or male strippers since the entire Tenn coaching staff would’ve been there! Anyway, I think I’m gonna celebrate it a little later on Sept 19th!

Alphare

May 19th, 2009
1:00 pm

It should be moved. Why, because more people can afford in Atlanta than in Jax. It’s more a hassle for the people and fans(most) in Jax. If some fan called Tony doesn’t go when moved to Atlanta, so be it. You will have 2 more Tonies grab the tickets. Forget about tradition, the 8 years old remember nothing about Jax, so the tradition is simply for the adults. Why those adults are so addicted to a game is beyond me. In a few years, the 8-year olds will have an ATL tradition, while nobody remember Jax a thing.

austindog

May 19th, 2009
1:00 pm

G8trs, Athens is not on the Georgia state line. The Superdome comparison is pretty close. To Jax, Georgia travels 5.1 times the distance Florida does, and for the annual game at the Superdome UF would travel 6.5 times the distance LSU would. A bit longer, but what’s a little extra travel, eh Gator fan? It’s still a neutral stadium.

Get it on campus ...

May 19th, 2009
1:02 pm

Tony’s qoute …. “I share this personal stuff in order to make a point: There are untold thousands of stories like mine about this game.”

I agree with “ehyoutiger” (7:53am, 5/19) –Can you not have golf outings, poker games or parties in Athens or Gainesville?–

Too much commercialism, too much revenue, too much about other things NOT concerned with THE GAME itself. One the things that makes college football so great is the kids & their campuses. Nobody should make a game (except bowl games b/c they are rewards for a well played season) bigger than the college experience itself. All the fans could expeirence the ‘other’ stuff just fine on or near their oppenents’ campus.
That’s Just my opinion. But I’m sure it would be diffent if I worked for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, owned a business at the landing, or were a CBS exec. negotiating those AD $$$.

[...] here’s some more history from Tony Barnhart’s blog post today. … But the one thing you DON’T do if you’re Evans is move the game because portions [...]

AltamahaDawg

May 19th, 2009
1:08 pm

MoneyDawg, you did know, the requirement to buy a condo was just a scam, right?

The worst argument in here to move the game to Atlanta is that of affordability. Like Jacksonville, Fl is some exotic port of call for the rich and famous? Or its just that they are giving away free stuff in and around downtown Atlanta. What do you think is going to happen to the cost of tickets for THAT game? Somehow I dont think the location is really a big issue, when you are watching it on TV either way.

The second worst argument is loss of revenue from a home/home. The truth is that both schools would lose over a million each under that arrangment.

Just as a sidenote…..has anyone ever heard a single UGA player complain about going to J-ville in the history of the game? One….ever? As you said, think of the players.

G8R GRAD

May 19th, 2009
1:10 pm

Gee, this conversation sounds familiar.
Didn’t I/we do this just yesterday?

Bo Williams

May 19th, 2009
1:13 pm

Seriiously Dawg fans, how can you consider this a rivalry game when one team consistently beats the dawg out of the other team! I bet UF fans don’t consider this such a rivalry game, except those who have some natural rivalry with the state of Ga.. I.e., ” my brother went to UGa and he lives in Atlanta”.

uuugh.

May 19th, 2009
1:19 pm

Altamaha–I was suggesting that the towns of Athens and Gville lose out on revenue. If a business in Jville can plan on being in business all year because of one weekend in October, why wouldn’t you want someone in your own backyard to reap a similar benefit every other year? I think that this is the only compelling argument for a move. I know the schools both get paid for going to Jville. The schools ultimately get to make the decision–so who cares about the impact the game would have on the local economy. I like th game in Jacksonville but hate the Dawgs recent string of performances there. Let’s fix the performances not the venue.

AltamahaDawg

May 19th, 2009
1:19 pm

Bo, You haven’t met many FL fans obviously.

Alphare

May 19th, 2009
1:24 pm

AltamahaDawg, if not all those, what is it? What’s so good about a city in Florida anyway? It’s not Miami, it’s not Panama city, it’s not even Orlando, tell us why it’s so good about it. I mean, ATL, Savanah, or even Valdosta can be a better than that city in Florida.

mexdawg

May 19th, 2009
1:24 pm

Tony you are absolutely right about the tradition part of the game and I love the St.Simmons experience.The one thing that no one has mentioned is how important this game is to our recruiting in south Ga and north Fl.You better believe it matters.We move this game away from Jax and fsu and even fl will dominate recruiting in south GA.You will also lose a great part of your fan base who did not attend UGA but pull for the Dawgs every game.These people will become FL STATE fans and I would sure hate to see that.Coach you and Damon Evans you are taking a big chance if you move this game,think about it.You have a lot to lose here and not much to gain.

ray

May 19th, 2009
1:25 pm

If the games were played on campuses, it would become just another big SEC game, another Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, etc. Right now, it’s bigger than that, for players and fans. Do you really want to water it down?

reality

May 19th, 2009
1:30 pm

Stop your whining Will. No one is forcing you to live in that dump of a town in south Georgia. If you don’t like it, move your ass out of that crap hole and closer to civilization.

Drew-G-A

May 19th, 2009
1:32 pm

I am all about tradition. but, i would like to see the game played somewhere else every now and then, don’t know why, just tired of seeing it in Jacksonville every year.

jumbo

May 19th, 2009
1:32 pm

I’m a huge LSU fan and season ticket holder. My brother is too and has been to several UGA-Fl games with a good friend in Atlanta who is a big Dawg booster. My brother says it is a great experience. I have been to Jax many times but not for the game. I would love to experience it. It would especially be fun to watch a game with no pressure because your team is not one of the participants.

AltamahaDawg

May 19th, 2009
1:34 pm

uuugh. I love the city of Athens but the coast of Georgia is just as much a part of the State of Georgia, that the university represents as Athens or Atlanta. All moving it does is redistribute money. 6 or 7 weekends North Georgia cashes in on Georgia Football. I know. I travel and stay at good expence up there enough. I don’t think we’re being too greedy down here to cling to our one. So somebody in MY backyard does need that revenue for the rest of the year. A lot of somebodies. Personal friends and clients. And all damn good Dawg Fans, who are more than willing to reciprocate at a 6-1 pace.

But my point was that the University looking out for its own financial interests, which I think all Dawgs fans would appreciate despite any of thier own, would be stupid to move the game home and home.