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

GaDawg

May 19th, 2009
10:12 pm

I am a senior at the University of Georgia and have been at this school all four years. After applying all four years, the athletic department has yet to grant me a ticket to the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville. My situation is no different than thousands of other undergraduate students. Because money rules this game, it is terribly hard for students to attend. A majority of students who do attend this game use plenty of outside money and resources in order to get a ticket and make the trip. Fortunately, I’ve been able to do that in two of the four years that I’ve been a student My ticket came from scalpers for a pretty penty.

The fact remains that this game is ruled by money. The money of Jacksonville, the Athletic Departments, and of even alumni. Furthermore, there is an unfair advantage. Florida reaps the profits and the economy of Georgia sees very little. UGA students feel the most burn. The resulting consequences on the field are highly debatable. My opinion is that UF at least has a psychological mindset that gives them an advantage in Jacksonville.

This game needs to be moved out of Jacksonville, at least for every other season. It should be rotated between Jacksonville and Atlanta, or it should be moved back to the campuses.

blazerdawg

May 19th, 2009
10:30 pm

Until they build a 90,000 seat stadium in Brunswick, Valdosta or Savannah, keep the modern day “Battle of Bloody Marsh” in Jacksonville. It is pratically a state holiday for South Georgia that has meaning beyond the football game!

scott

May 19th, 2009
10:36 pm

What Tony, and the rest of you fail to mention is the bye week, which Florida has had all along, and UGA has not. Maybe UGA should start the scheduling with a bye week before the game in Florida, it would make more sense.

Other than that, I like the Home/Home, Dome/Jax set up, I think that would be great and still keep some tradition.

Frozen_Gator

May 19th, 2009
10:40 pm

Why are we surprised that CMR wants to change the tradition of Ga/Fl. Let’s see…….QB at scUM………OC for CBB at f$u……….and coach for the pups. That has to be the most disgusting pedigree in the history of college coaching. BTW I felt f$u left some championships on the table when CMR was there, looks like this trend may be continuing at Ga. Strap it we’ll play you in the parking lot.

mexdawg

May 19th, 2009
10:54 pm

Again you guys are missing the key point.We need this game in Jax for RECUITING in south Ga and north Fl.We can not afford to give south ga to FSU like we did in the 90’s when they had all their great teams.Go back and see how many of those players came from south Ga I promise you will be shocked.Mark Richt of all people should know this he was at FSU at the time.Do not move this game coach it will cost you your job over the long term if you do.You can beat the water lizzards anywhere just coach em up and LET THE BIG DAWG EAT.

Rob

May 19th, 2009
11:18 pm

Fantastic view. The reason this game is so great is because of the location. Regardless of what all the homers say the “Dome” and Atlanta just is not the same

Michael

May 19th, 2009
11:38 pm

I could personally care less about all the tradition and vacations that surround this game for some people. That’s nice and all, but don’t require a football game to schedule your events for you. I’d rather see 92,000 people fill Sanford Stadium every other year and about the same fill The Swamp on the other years. I’ve seen big rivalries played in neutral sites (this one, Auburn-Alabama), and I’ve seen the big ones at campuses. Seeing Alabama at Auburn was just awesome, a few notches above anything in Birmingham.

Another reason is I’m selfish and I’d rather see Athens hotel rooms get all that business than Jacksonville hotel rooms. They’ve got the Jaguars now, so don’t worry about them.

Ringleader

May 19th, 2009
11:41 pm

Well, to really get a good look at this, we need to move the game to the Georgia Dome for the next 50 years, you know, like it has been in Jax. Then take a good look at the results and decide if we want it in Jax or Atlanta, or maybe go home and home.

DaveDawg

May 19th, 2009
11:42 pm

The games needs to be moved to home and home. Just because it’s a “tradition” doesn’t make it right. That said, CMR also needs to man-up and show a little fire. The end-zone celebration against the Gators in 2007 was genius, and I hope he remembers Urban’s timeouts in the final minute of 2008 for motivation. This game, as are all games involving college-aged kids – is partly about emotion, and CMR needs to learn a little something from Meyer and Saban and, lord, even Les Miles, about firing up your team. All of those coaches have won the national championship, and I don’t see CMR – the even-keeled “Bobby Cox” of college coaches – ever generating enough drive in his players to actually “finish the drill.”

turkey

May 20th, 2009
12:24 am

Jacksonville has nothing to do with UGA’s poor preformance the past 20 years. The real reason is Jeremy Foley. Since he has been AD Florida has excelled at every sport and those coaches that cannot live up to his expectations are gone. This has been and will continue to be UGA’s problem, keeping dead wood around too long. See Ray Goff, Dennis Felton, and of course Willie Martinez.

Todd Dawg

May 20th, 2009
12:40 am

Nailed it , thank you Tony. We need to go down and beat Fl w/o any celebration. Just focus and beat them because we want it more. They don’t want it, they expect to just play and win because that’s what they’ve done. Who’s going to step up and turn this thing around?

Sid

May 20th, 2009
2:15 am

Thanks Tony for explaining how every year the bigger contributors get tickets to the GA-FL game while those of us who don’t have quite that much money have to stay home!Go to a home and home schedule so that more UGA fans can see the _ A M N game every other year. I lost a lot of respect for you after reading this article!

AltamahaDawg

May 20th, 2009
7:38 am

The problem when a topic get to page 3 is that folks start rehashing points, appearantly unaware that they have been sufficiently refuted 2 pages back.

rick

May 20th, 2009
8:27 am

The only person that should be considered in this equation is the coach and he wants it moved. Move the game.

Southern Cross Gator

May 20th, 2009
8:28 am

The UGA fans that do want the game moved (and I know it isn’t all) simply have no appreciation for the tradition of the event itself that is the Florida-Georgia game. The fact that UF has won the lion’s share of late should not dictate a change in venue. It certainly didn’t result in a move during Vince Dooley’s reign of terror over UF for 25 years. The simple fact is that Spurrier gave all us Gators a collective kick in the rear and said “STOP MAKING EXCUSES, and let’s just win the game!” No matter what any theory Evans or any UGA fan wanting the game moved tries to advance, the fact remains Barnhart doesn’t write this story if UGA is 16-3 in the last 19 years instead of 3-16. Hell, this isn’t even being talked about if it fairly even like 10-9 in one or the other’s favor. It boils down to this: UF got tired of losing to UGA and did something about it since Spurrier, Meyer, and yes even Zook for all you Zook bashers who was 2-1 himself in 3 years that included games against 2 SEC Championship teams that UGA had. IF UGA no longer wants this to be a topic of discussion, here’s how to fix it…win the game!

dale

May 20th, 2009
9:07 am

Semmi: That is the way it has always been… It is tradition.

Prince Akeem: But it is also tradition that times must and always do change, my friend.

Coming to America

ugafanatic

May 20th, 2009
11:01 am

It shouldnt matter where you play a damn game. If your team is better you win the game. I live in jax and look forward to the game every year. If the game goes home and home, we still would get rapped like bama did us anf florida does every year so shut up and nut up

AltamahaDawg

May 20th, 2009
11:14 am

Sid they don’t get tickets, they buy tickets. Same as home games. Folks with more money buy more groceries too. College football games are not govenment handouts. Nor a right.

And the argument that “more” folks could see it just doesn’t add up. Over a 2 year cycle it’s the same. Maybe a different set of folks would elect to see it, but that is a choice.

And there hasn’t been a game in J-ville that you cant buy a single ticket for 125-200 if you were really serious about going, which is exactly what the game in Athens is going to cost.

And anyone suggesting that J-ville areas room rates are unfairly jacked up, obviously has never tried to staying in Athens during a football weekend. (or oblivious to what Atlanta is going to do with room rates for that game if it moves). I suggest staying 40 minutes from the stadium across the line in Georgia. Solves about 90% of the excuses I have heard. Although that will not make a football team that is not as good win a football game.

My guess is that, if finances are your big factor (and trust me I am all too aware of the financial aspects of attending a UGA football game), you are probably going to need to watch it on TV no matter where its played. So let the folks who elect to pay for it, no matter where it is, decide where they want to see it. How is that unfair?

richtfan

May 20th, 2009
11:43 am

Tony,

Are you saying that this is some type of sacred tradition and that another tradition can’t be started to replace it? that’s how “traditions” become what they are. they have to start with year 1 and move on to become a 75 year thing. it doesn’t start out at year 75 the first year.

we need to start a new tradition with this game in a different venue that does not benefit UF.

Sid

May 20th, 2009
12:03 pm

Thanks Alta..Dawg.I appreciate your obvious but really unnecessary comment re: “get vs. “buy”.I’ve never stolen a ticket. I was referring to “getting” or being assigned a higher priority based upon one’s contribution.I still support home and home even if my measly contribution forces me to watch it on TV.I contribute whether I get tickets or not.

By the way-how’s fishing in the river? I can’t come to “Two Way”. I’m saving my money for a trip to J’ville so I possibly can get ripped by a scalper.

And folks can party and get drunk in either Athens or Gainesville. Fun and drunkedness aren’t always about location !

UGA_2001

May 20th, 2009
12:11 pm

Tony,

You and your friends are the problem. You are more concerned about your social lives than with Georgia winning championships. But it isn’t just you and your friends- it is the entire fanbase.

That is why this program will never be more than just “good”. Right or wrong, Georgia fans simply do not care enough about winning and neither does the leadership at this university.

Doug

May 20th, 2009
1:34 pm

I too was always in favor of keeping the game in Jax for some of the same reasons until this last year. We had to fly down Friday night after Halloween because we have kids, which resulted in us having to stay in Jacksonville. That experience reminded me of why I switched from Amelia Island to St. Simons 12 years ago. The hotels gouge us, not the arrive on gameday florida fans, the staffs at hotels restaurants and in the stadium itself are flat hostile, and I noticed that everyone pulled over by an officer on the way to the game was a UGA fan. Why should we put up with that when we’re clearly contributing the lion’s share of the money Jax receives? Maybe they’ve “thrown” some stuff in for Dooley in the past, but not the average fan. In these economic times, don’t pee on me and tell me it’s raining with your 3 and 4 night minimums at $250/night at the Residence Inn, etc. Atlanta could use some of that money if only to fix the potholes. In deference to our South GA fans, I think the game should rotate every year between the GA Dome and Jax. Atlanta will benefit, the school will save on travel, and the reptiles will get a taste of hotel gouging and bogus tickets.

DawgsonTop

May 20th, 2009
2:24 pm

The only way Georgia is going to start winning these games is to move the game to Athens. Florida has a big advantage in Jacksonville—so if Damon Evans and Mark Richt want to win more games, move it to Athens, not downtown Atlanta. Florida plays there almost every year in the SEC title game and does well. Ga needs a real home field advantage in Athens. I’m tired of losing to these obnoxious Gator fans every year. MOVE it now!

AltamahaDawg

May 20th, 2009
3:08 pm

Sid, fishing stinks.
Try Ebay for that ticket next time.
MY point is that a game in Athens is not any cheaper than J-ville for the fans. Well ok, for some fans it is, for some fans it is not. And for the latter, we pay dearly to attend UGA games the rest of the year. So there is winners and losers in either. Also the universities would each give away over a million a year to move it to home and home.

Okay now, some of these “dawgs” are so over the top cliche’ that they have to be gator fans posing just to make fun of us.

ugafanatic

May 20th, 2009
5:35 pm

*dawgson* How does Florida have an advantage? Fl 1:30 bus ride, Ga 1:30 plane ride(tops and thats pushing it). stadium is 50/50, 100 yds long and 40 yds wide.Where is the advantage? Coaching! Why would you want it to go back to Athens so they can hang 52 on us again? We sure dont have a problem winning in the crappy citrus bowl, which is a further trip. The bottom line is Florida is better and we nut up when we play them.*

Southern Cross Gator

May 20th, 2009
8:40 pm

1970 – 1989 UGA wins 15, UF wins 5.
During this time, where was any of the following aformentioned countless times “concerns” of UGA fans….

“Hey, I’m tired of Jacksonville getting the economic boost by having the game.”

“Hey, we have to travel further because we ALL know every UF fan is within driving distance of Jax.” (Which of course isn’t true.)

“Hey, I’m glad we beat the Gators again but I can’t seem to enjoy myself beacuse Jacksonville and not Athens or Atlanta was the beneficiary of the boosted economy due to the game.”

“Hey I know we beat the Gators again but this game was played on Florida soil and as such, it just isn’t worth enjoying. Even though we won, we’re being cheated.”

This crap about wanting to move the game has nothing to do with the results of the last 19 years is just that, CRAP! There’s no shame in being pissed about going 3-16 of late but come the hell on Dawg fans. Quit trying to sell the idea that the desire to move the game has nothing to do with the recent results of the game. What a load!

David

May 21st, 2009
5:25 pm

Enter your comments here

Gator T

June 2nd, 2009
2:24 pm

doesn’t matter where it is played…the Gators will win there,,,just like they did in Athens :>)

ds32223

June 27th, 2009
2:18 pm

Gainesville is actually more than “an hour” away, but it makes for good print to say an hour.

ds32223

June 27th, 2009
2:24 pm

I live in Jacksonville, and there are many, many Georgia fans here. We are right on the border of Florida/Georgia it is absurd to think that Jacksonville City as a whole is biased. My mother is from Georgia. You know nothing about the region or the city if you say that. Also growing up I remember Georgia winning every year and never did I hear a complaint from UGA fans to move the game and interesting enough no shouts to play in the Swamp either. Wonder why that is.

ds32223

June 27th, 2009
2:29 pm

GaDawg the Florida students can’t get tickets either. Most are gobbled up by alumni. Jacksonville is near the Florida/Georgia border and it’s the grown ups with money that attend this game, both of whom live in either state. It is a huge money maker yes, but don’t forget the t-shirts, flags etc. that Georgia sells and they also share in the stadium profits so it isn’t only Florida making money.

EARNEST DAVIS

November 1st, 2009
1:14 pm

HOW IN THE HELL CAN THE GA-FLA GAME BE A MUTUAL SITE, IT IS PLAYED IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA FOR HEAVEN SAKES. IT IS ALWAYS A
ROAD GAME FOR GA. I DO NOT CARE IF GA WINS EVERY TIME AT JACKSONVILLE!, PLAY EVERY OTHER GAME IN ATHENS WHERE IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE. HECK AT ONE TIME GA ALWAYS PLAYED AUBURN IN COLUMBUS, GA BUT THINK GOODNESS THEY STOPPED THAT/

Paul

September 5th, 2010
8:41 pm

So, tradition just for the tradition’s sake? Sounds like people with money are set in their ways and don’t want to give up their condos. Home and home is the way it should be. I’m not driving down to Florida to watch a “home team” play a game on the road. (For what it’s worth, I’m an Auburn fan, so the Georgia-Florida game doesn’t matter much to me, other than how unfair it is.)