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

mightyKC

May 19th, 2009
3:49 pm

ooops…and i meant “UGA” grad, above :)

G8R GRAD

May 19th, 2009
3:54 pm

Distances to Dallas:

Norman 223 mi.

Austin 183 mi.

Oklahoma state line 75 mi.

G8R GRAD

May 19th, 2009
3:59 pm

Granted, Austin is not as close to Dallas as Gainesville is to Jax, but Dallas is farther from their common border than Jax and those Longhorn fans in San Antonio (or Brownsville & El Paso) have farther to drive than the Sooners in Northwest OK.

austindog

May 19th, 2009
4:06 pm

You’re wrong G8R, Austin to Dallas is 196 miles, and Norman to Dallas is 189.

CharlotteGator

May 19th, 2009
4:09 pm

The prior comment with the records against TN, GA, and LSU since ‘90 should make Gator fans proud. And not just that it’s been a successful 19 years, but more so because beating FL seems to be the key to other teams national success.

We’ve lost to LSU the most over that that period and wouldn’t you know, they’ve won a couple titles.
Next is TN and they have 1 title.
GA’s 11-1 team was denied their shot by guess what, a loss to Florida….and their only other season with some national prominence was ‘07 the year they won.

Hopefully, this period of success will last a bit longer since it clearly won’t last forever.

Oh, and kudos to the majority of poster’s today. This has easily been one of the best FLA/GA exchanges I’ve read on the site and it’s a lot more fun and interesting than the mudslinging.

Hershal is gay

May 19th, 2009
4:21 pm

Again, why is the SEC Championship allowed to be played an hour from Athens? Do you hear anyone else complaining like little girls about it? You have and always will be full of excuses. I enjoyed putting 50 plus in Athens.

G8R GRAD

May 19th, 2009
4:24 pm

“Again, why is the SEC Championship allowed to be played an hour from Athens? Do you hear anyone else complaining like little girls about it? You have and always will be full of excuses. I enjoyed putting 50 plus in Athens.”

I’m sorry, what were you saying CharlotteGator?

Otto

May 19th, 2009
4:25 pm

Spurrier usually had an off week before UGA.

Dooley usually had VMI, Houston, Temple or Memphis before the WLOCP.

Both coaches dominated the series.

Otto

May 19th, 2009
4:26 pm

Why is the game played in the Dome? Because Legion Field sux.

G8R GRAD

May 19th, 2009
4:28 pm

austindog:

Thank you. My point precisely.
That game is in Dallas because it is geographically equidistant from the respective campuses.
However, it is deeper in Texas territory than is Jax and Dallas is farther from some UT loyal than any OK alumn.

Hershal is gay

May 19th, 2009
4:29 pm

Shannon

Florida does not come over on gameday. Some of you young UGA fans should STHU. You have no clue. 5 maybe 6 times in 19 years you might have been better than Florida. You won 3. End of discussion. Two crap coaches for UGA and one for Florida. Florida has 3 National Titles to UGA winning 0 during the last 19 years. Blame it on bye weeks, your coaches, the humidity, but we have been more successful and that is why we won.

If you want to be a baby, change the SEC Championship game from Atlanta. You have an unfair advantage.

Georgia Gator

May 19th, 2009
4:30 pm

Didn’t Richt & co. take the week off last year?

And don’t they have one off this year?

Will it make any difference?

Otto

May 19th, 2009
4:31 pm

Dorsey UF is 16-5 against LSU if you go back to ‘88 which is the same as UGA.

So over the past ~20 yrs LSU and UGA have the same record against UF.

Hershal is gay

May 19th, 2009
4:32 pm

Georgia Gator

UGA did not have a bye week last year. They played LSU last year.

Alphare

May 19th, 2009
4:33 pm

I cannot believe you guys keep repeating tradtion. Tradition of what? losing? You guys just want to be in St Simon while the dawgs are nearby. Can you imagine the game being played in Valdosta? that will light up the whole south Georgia in fire. That’ll be a better tradition, believe me.

B-Reel

May 19th, 2009
4:34 pm

Dear Bulldog fans, the game can be played on lake lanier and the results would be the same. There’s no Gator advantage when the staduim is half red and half blue. If anything your Bulldogs have less pressure, since us Gators expect a win.

Otto

May 19th, 2009
4:35 pm

CMR could have 2 more wins if DJ wasn’t injured in one and DJ didn’t throw an interception in another. UGA didn’t get those breaks. The point isn’t to cry about it. But that UGA has had their chances and the field would not change the outcome of either game.

cajdawg

May 19th, 2009
4:36 pm

I am so tired of this argument. This series should be home and home.

We are like f…g idiotic lemmings marching down to Jacksonville every year (every other year for our “home game”) TO PLAY THE GAME ONE HOUR FROM FLORIDA’S CAMPUS. If we can’t see stupidity in this we deserve to lose every year.

Hershal is gay

May 19th, 2009
4:37 pm

Otto

That is retarded. That is like saying Florida would have won two more games if Tebow wasnt hurt or we didnt just fire Zook. 16-3, live with it.

Trey

May 19th, 2009
4:37 pm

The game won’t move and shouldn’t but don’t tell me that UF doesn’t have an advantage!!!

Georgia Gator

May 19th, 2009
4:40 pm

H i g:

Thanks, I stand corrected.

Can we count on UGA to soften up the Bayou Bengals on Oct. 3rd in Athens, while we have a week off to prepare for our trip to Baton Rouge?

Hershal is gay

May 19th, 2009
4:41 pm

Cajdawg

50-50 inside and UGA fans had a lot of fun winning in the 70’s and 80’s. It is stupid to do the same thing over and over expecting a differnt result. Get a better team, win more SEC titles, and win more National titles and then talk about it. Move the SEC game out of Atlanta. I mean, it is 1 hour from your campus. All of the SEC must be stupid to play a game that close to UGA.

WHY IS IT OKL DOESN’T CRY ABOUT PLAYING INT TEXAS FOR THE RED RIVER? UGA fans cry more than anyone.

Hershal is gay

May 19th, 2009
4:42 pm

Someone tell me what advantage. Traveling 1 hour to their hotel on Friday instead of flying 1 hour to their hotel. Also, someone show me how a bus is supposed to go from Gainesville to the hotel in Jakcsonville in an hour. Seriously!!!

Tell me how it isnt an advantage for UGA playing in Atlanta for the title game!!!!! I am waiting!!!!!!

G8R GRAD

May 19th, 2009
4:47 pm

Cajdawg:

Once more:

UGA won 15 of 19 from 1971 to 1989.

We dreaded the beat-down every year too.

cajdawg

May 19th, 2009
4:47 pm

Hershal,

I believe the SEC championship game should be rotated (maybe Superdome, Atl., Nashville, etc.) This is not a valid argument, unfortunately UGA does not play in the SEC Championship every year- UGA and UF do play in Jacksonville every year.
Also, the Red River rivalry is halfway between the campuses and practically on the state line. Do you think Oklahoma would play in San Antonio every year? Of course not.

CharlotteGator

May 19th, 2009
4:47 pm

No kidding G8R GRAD, didn’t realize I was jinxing it.

Also, the “move the SECCG then because that’s unfair in ATL” argument from Gator fans is a weak response to UGA’s complaints. Atlanta is by far the best place for the SECCG when you think of the conference as a whole. Not to mention, getting to Atlanta is a much cooler goal than getting to Tampa, or Chattanooga, or Birmingham, like the SEC has tried w/ the Bball tourney (does the SEC still play bball by the way?).

Not sure the home and home would be a great idea either. I know it’s juvenile, but I’d much rather beat Georgia in JAX when the stadium is split, than beat them at Ben Hill. Beating UGA in Athens is fairly appealing, but not enough reason to move the game. It’s a special game/event/weekend and only those who haven’t gone would argue otherwise.

Also, people have been asking for the student opinion. I know as a student, I loved going up 301 and heading to JAX in the unofficial ‘Gator Parade’ on Friday night. I also have UGA friends who said their Fall Break’s were planned around this trip, so it’s not just boosters and rich alumns who enjoy the event.

B-Reel

May 19th, 2009
4:49 pm

Here’s our advantage….we invite you Bulldogs to J-ville to play and like when you were kids you’re afraid to go in the fridge to take what you want, while we push you around.

G8R GRAD

May 19th, 2009
4:54 pm

Cajdawg:

Our perspectives are diametrically opposed:

UGA’s dominance of UF for two decades in the 70’s and 80’s leaves you with unmet expectations, while our dominance of UGA for the last 19 years is a “brave new world” for us!

CharlotteGator

May 19th, 2009
4:56 pm

Foolishness…no one complained about the game in ‘07 being in JAX. In fact the only thing I remember was “Tebow sucks, he didn’t play defense.” “We told you Stafford was better” and “This is the beginning of us turning it around, we aren’t taking it from Florida any more”.

Let’s not have short memories.

By the same token, we Gators can’t feel like we’ve dominated the SEC since 90. Reference the Zook years, that little team from Auburn, and pretty good battles/matchups with the fighting Bear Bryant’s. Oh yeah, and what is it with teams from Mississippi.

Otto

May 19th, 2009
4:57 pm

Herschel it is 2 games where CMR was very close but didn’t win the game. Yes if Tebow was healthy he may not have lost that game. CMR has been very close to winning the WLOCP every year but last year and his first. He lost on bad breaks and scheduling not location.

If anything being on the road may have helped in ‘06. UF clearly had a better team but UGA lost by 7. CMR teams have always traveled well.

Huh?

May 19th, 2009
4:58 pm

Jesus does Florida get an off week before every single big game it plays? Tennessee: Usually an off week before that game. LSU: Off week. Georgia: Usually an off week before that game. And if they aren’t getting off weeks their playing Vandy, Kentucky, or West Lafayette Girls College before all their big games. I mean am I the only one that sees the insanity of this? Look at Florida’s schedules over the years. Its unbelievable. They might as well move the SEC front office to freaking Gainesville and have Jeremy Foley take over the whole league. It won’t make much difference.

G8R GRAD

May 19th, 2009
5:00 pm

CharlotteGator:

Ouch!
Okay Coach Donovan’s boys haven’t lived up top expectations after back-to-back NC’s in ‘06 & ‘07, but we continue onward and upward!
Just because you now reside in basketball heaven gives you little cause to slight the SEC’s roundball program!

Blah

May 19th, 2009
5:00 pm

If the location doesn’t matter, why not have it at the GA dome every year?

Otto

May 19th, 2009
5:03 pm

G8R Grad, You can be honest like Charlotte. UF has dominated the SEC like the Bear did over the past 20 not just UGA.

Charlotte, I watched the ‘07 game and I knew UGA would not get a fair call in the game in ‘08. CMR may have cost himself his job and fair calls last season by dancing on the field. I was surprised by the move and disappointed even if it was supposed to be just the players on the field. Taunting is not UGA football. Herschel handing the ball to the ref and walking off the field is UGA football. Granted I did enjoy the win while it lasted.

G8R GRAD

May 19th, 2009
5:07 pm

Blah:

Read the above 234 comments.

G8R GRAD

May 19th, 2009
5:09 pm

Otto:
How/where/when was I being dishonest?

Georgia Gator

May 19th, 2009
5:11 pm

Huh?:

It’s so we can go to the beach and catch up on our tans!

Georgia Gator

May 19th, 2009
5:15 pm

B-Reel:

“. . . we invite you Bulldogs to J-ville to play and like when you were kids you’re afraid to go in the fridge to take what you want, while we push you around.”

That’s as great a metaphor as I’ve ever read!

Georgia Gator

May 19th, 2009
5:15 pm

Or is it an analogy?

Lenny in Ludowici

May 19th, 2009
5:27 pm

Otto – Taunting is not Georgia Football? Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. What games have you been watching? Wait, I know. Usually after the game is out of hand the taunting subsides. That’s what you meant.

As for our dear contributor who boldly stated that “nobody” can say that UF has a distinct advantage in Jax, I would assume you read all these posts, didn’t you?

After all the whinning I’ve seen on here I’m convinced that UGA should change their colors from Red and Black to Bloodshot eyes pink with a hint of magenta.

murfdawg

May 19th, 2009
5:48 pm

If some of you so called Dawg fans think it is hot in Jax, wait until you get out to Stillwater in Sept. Why don’t you blame UGAs poor showing the last 19 years on “Global Warming”. It makes about as much sense as blaming the trip to Jax.As I posted earlier, there was a time when men were men and the Dawgs were beating the gators. Hopefully, UGA will start winning again, and the whining will stop.

SECSEC

May 19th, 2009
5:48 pm

Sounds like this man has cut his teeth at fsu where Miami got in their head and they just couldn’t pull out a win. At least they never came up with the embarassing “humidity” excuse…have some dang pride or it may be time to cut him loose!! When a coach wants to change 75 years of tradition…something that’s gone on for twice the man’s lifetime so flippantly…I’d change him out, rather than the location…

SoCal Dawg

May 19th, 2009
6:16 pm

Wow what a touching story Barnhart. Who cares? That kind of crap is meant for your diary not for the AJC. We don’t care about your bromance.

AltamahaDawg

May 19th, 2009
6:37 pm

Atlanta Gator, that must have been a function of the new format for a while. I guess I have graduated from being merely lower case. I’ve been accused of being simple minded, even past tense a few times lately though.

Hey, is it true that Tim Tebow can drive the team bus to the stadium an hour before the game. I keep hearing that. Does he pick it up and carry it, or just mow over everything in his way?

Palatka Gator

May 19th, 2009
6:42 pm

If the game moves to home and home for Florida and Georgia then every other year, at least 30,000 fans who attend the game every year will not be able to go because it will be treated like every other home game and only about 10,000 tickets will be available for the visiting team. Even if it moves to the Georgia Dome occasionally, there will be approximately 4-5,000 peoplewho will not be able to attend beacause it is smaller. If all the fans who like to attend every year would like to keep going, the only choice is to keep it in Jax.

Gen Neyland

May 19th, 2009
7:54 pm

The GA Dome is a nice place to visit (once a year), and the best time to visit the Dome is in December. Other than that, let FL and GA build a stadium right on the dang state line, 50-50…mullets to the left, fins to the right…

AltamahaDawg

May 19th, 2009
7:58 pm

which one is which?

AltamahaDawg

May 19th, 2009
8:08 pm

I think that’s: mullets to the left, fade with a #3, round it and even em up, to the right.

GatorsMax

May 19th, 2009
9:37 pm

It doesn’t matter what Richt does or where they play. Florida will blow out Georgia this year easy with Tebow (look for meyer to really run it up good) and next 2 years with Brantley, who may be the best passing QB in the country. He’s a superstar in the making. Florida owns georgia, so they want to move the game to atlanta and all those thugs.

KennesawDawg

May 19th, 2009
9:43 pm

Florida has a big advantage in Jacksonville and the game should be moved to Atlanta or Athens right away, where Ga has a better chance. Florida has an easy bus ride to the game, while Ga has to travel hours on buses and planes to get to the game. Plus, Florida’s used to the hotter weather, while Ga players don’t get to practice in that heat. Also, Ga fans get hosed every year by the hotels in jax marking everything up, while Florida fans just drive to the game that day, then go home. If they move the game to Georgia, the Dawgs will win a lot more and start winning national titles!