Georgia-Florida game should take turns on campus

stadium

Yes, this is a cool scene. But it leaves me feeling half-empty. (Elissa Eubanks/AJC)

Just once I would like to see a decision made in college athletics that is based on something other than money.

I bring this up now because the UGA Athletic Association board is scheduled to hold one of its quarterly meetings Wednesday, and there is a familiar topic on the agenda: Where to play the Georgia-Florida game. The contract with Jacksonville runs through 2010, and given that everybody is making a lot of money — a factor at least as important as “tradition,” despite what you may hear — I suspect that’s where the game will stay.

But it shouldn’t. At least not every year. The Georgia-Florida game should be held every other year on the Georgia or Florida campus.

I know. What a novel idea, right? College football on an actual college campus.

This isn’t about some perceived home-field advantage the Gators have playing the game in Jacksonville. Florida has won most of the time in the past two decades because it has had the better team — not because the Gators can bus to the game. And I certainly don’t see the attraction to holding the game at the Georgia Dome, just for the sake of moving it over the border once in a while.

This is about what college football truly is supposed to be about: the campus atmosphere, the student section, the home-field advantage with a small section or two of visiting fans dwarfed by everybody else in the stadium.

Georgia and Florida have a sweet deal with Jacksonville. The schools make more money there than if the game was moved on campus. But let’s get real here. The SEC has a $2.25 billion contract with ESPN and an $825 million contract with CBS.  In short, the conference already is sharing $205 million a year with member institutions before anybody sells a ticket or a sponsorship or begins fundraising.

Seriously, is another estimated $1 million a year to have the game in Jacksonville that big of a deal?

My plan: Keep the game in Jacksonville every other year. Then in alternate seasons,  have the game on campus. That would put in once in Athens every four seasons, and once in Gainesville in a similar rotation. Everybody wins. The tradition of Jacksonville is preserved, and so is the real tradition of college football.

But my guess is that the spirit of Gordon Gekko wins out.

251 comments Add your comment

bananas or cucumbers u pick

September 22nd, 2009
10:52 pm

Would it be ok for UGA to have a half a hundred hung on them every other year in Sanford Stadium?

41 38 49 38 45 24 37 41

September 22nd, 2009
10:55 pm

Willie M. would sure break scoring records in Sanford stadium if the home and home series would come to fruition.

MikeInValdosta

September 22nd, 2009
10:59 pm

Couldn’t disagree more. Many students love the Jacksonville trip, alumni love it more. It may be a hassle for those paid to attend (sports writers), but those of us that choose to attend love the setting. It is one of the best traditions in college football. A nice fall vacation. Money has nothing to do with it.

Vinings Dog

September 22nd, 2009
11:04 pm

Tradition trumps everything. The game is fine where it is and the South Georgia fans deserve a game in their backyard every year.

Jeff Schultz

September 22nd, 2009
11:12 pm

Mike, Vinings — I understand about the Jax tradition. That’s why I’m in favor or keeping it there every other year. But I think have it in Athens and Gainesville once every four years years would add to that.

Toots

September 22nd, 2009
11:20 pm

Jeff,
I never took you for a sentimental fool. It’s endearing as all get out.

superDawg

September 22nd, 2009
11:23 pm

Preach to the tekies.our bandwagon has been full since before you were born.

MT

September 22nd, 2009
11:24 pm

Changing the status quo would subtract from the game. 99 times out of 100, the game is the featured CBS game. The buzz buildup to the game, from students and alumni, is immense. The buzz at Brogen’s on SSI the Friday of GA-FL wkend is immense.

Would it add to tradition for alumni to make another weekend hike to Athens in the fall, even every other year like you propose? No. Would it add to the tradition of alumni making a pilgrimage to SSI for a round of golf and good times with their friends to make it every couple of years instead? No.

Would the pageantry, the spectacle of a traditional “neutral” site rivalry game, one of only two big ones remaining in the US (+Red River Shootout) be permanently lost? YES.

BugKiller

September 22nd, 2009
11:29 pm

Why NOT move it to Atlanta every other year?

Why do you think the Gators WANT it played in Jax EVERY year? Because they KNOW it is an ACTUAL advantage for them. Not some made up advantage.

And you’re wr-wr-wr-wrong (thanks, Fonzie) Jeff.

Florida HASN’T had the most talented team in many of their wins. How about 2002-2003? 2005?

Actually, for about a decade, the teams have been EQUAL in talent. So WHY did Mark Richt lose so often to RON ZOOK???

Because as Steve Spurrier so honestly stated, Florida has a VERY REAL advantage playing in Jax every year.

So why not move it to Atlanta every other year? Forget the on-campus idea.

Jacksonville is a hole. Atlanta is comparably much nicer. Also, Atlanta is RIFE with Gator alumni. Shouldn’t they have a stake in seeing THEIR team once a year as the SoGeorgia Dawg fans do?

You can make Atlanta the “home” site for the Gators. Make Jacksonville the “home” site for the Dawgs. Keep the 50/50 split. You know as well as anyone that the Atlanta sports council will make up the difference in lost seat revenue (the Jax stadium can hold about 8,000 more people for this game) with more money.

And THEN we can see if Florida can come up here and win every year in the GEORGIA Dome as they do in Jacksonville.

Jesup Dawg

September 22nd, 2009
11:29 pm

It is nice for the south Ga fans to have it in jville. Jeff you idea is better than the Ga Dome idea but neither will happen.

MrDawg

September 22nd, 2009
11:32 pm

Yeah….that GA Tech/FSU series sure is thrilling on each other’s campuses. Even though UGA has lost 16 of the last 19 – the excitement and memories continue. And all for one reason – Jacksonville.

And if you don’t understand – you’ve never been to Jax for GA/FL. Nice article though. The tons of comments should stroke your ego. Thanks for writing an article strictly for the comments.

Belvedere

September 22nd, 2009
11:36 pm

On a tangent here, but I remember when UF/UGA went home-and-home in the mid-90s while the Gator Bowl was being renovated. UGA and Clemson played both years. The alternating plan would allow UGA to resume the Clemson rivalry on a biennial basis.

Garrett

September 22nd, 2009
11:38 pm

Jeff, obviously you do not know much about the history of this series and what it means to Georgia fans and Florida fans. You have a very radical opinion and just don’t seem to understand the meaning of this game. I am tired of defending this but will keep doing it. First off, ARE YOU CRAZY PLAYING ON EACH OTHERS CAMPUS!!!!! Hate is brewed deep enough and going to play each other on each others campus is a recipe for disaster! Gators don’t want to come to Athens, Dawgs don’t want to come to Gainsville, plain and simple. Secondly you don’t understand what this game means to Georgia fans. It is a time during the year where Dawg fans can take a four day weekend, head to St. Simmons and enjoy a nice, fall weekend on the Georgia coast then head to Jacksonville for the game. I know so many Dawg fans that plan this trip in January and you would be taking that away by going to the other schools campus. So many people have the perception that since Georgia has had bad luck for a while in Jacksonville that we want to move it. What you don’t realize is the good time Georgia fans have going down and having a “mini” vacation during football season.

Finally the tradition and history that has happened there is un-matchable. It is the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” and taking that away from the secenary in Jacksonville and the history that has happened between these two teams in this matchup is crazy. There is no home-field advantage for Florida or Georgia. I hope you have been in that stadium and know it is split, right down the line, 50/50. Florida does not get more seats since it is in Florida. There are as many, if not more Dawg fans there than Gators. I don’t know what you are think Jeff but that idea is even more crazy than going to the Dome. Keep it in Jacksonville, let us have a good time, keep that tradition that is the Georgia/Florida game.

Loran, Whatayagot?

September 22nd, 2009
11:39 pm

Even with the golf, beach vacation in November,etc., it still ends up as a home game for the Gaytors. Playing the game in Jacksonville does not necessarily help our recruiting. I like the rotation Schultz proposes. I’m for trying it. The times, they are a changin’.

Cuz

September 22nd, 2009
11:40 pm

Jeff you are doing your best to destroy my weekend at the Island formerly known as Saint Simons. Okay, you can stay at my house. But you have to make your own bed.

Garrett

September 22nd, 2009
11:41 pm

It is crazy!!

Cuz

September 22nd, 2009
11:43 pm

Don’t fix what aint broke. The game is fine. The location is fine. We just have not had the teams to compete with the Gators the last decade or almost two. But the pendulum may start swinging the other way. After watching UT-UF I once again believe in hope, change and the future.

Garrett

September 22nd, 2009
11:51 pm

Jeff, obviously you do not know what this weekend means to Dawg fans and are you crazy switching the game to each other’s campus!!!!!!! The hate is already brewed enough between these two teams and I can only imagine what bad things it could bring if they go visit each other’s stadium. Face it, Dawgs do not want to visit that place called Gainesville and Gators do not want to visit Athens. That is even crazier then moving it to the Dome.

Obviously Jeff you do not know what this weekend means for Dawg fans. Taking Thursday off, heading to St. Simmons during the fall and being able to relax by the Georgia coast then heading to the game Saturday morning. This game means so much to St. Simmons and other surrounding areas because of the revenue it brings in. I know people who plan this out in January. There are not many times when you get to have a “mini” vacation during football season. This is probably the weekend I look forward to the most because of the fun it brings being able to hang out, Go to Brogans, enjoy Downtown, and watch the college kids crowd the beach.

Lastly the game is deeply rooted in Jacksonville and that is where it should stay. There is so much tradition and memories engraved in this place it would be ridiculous to move it somewhere. There is no advantage for one team. I am sure you have been in that stadium and know it is split right down the middle, 50/50. Gators don’t get more seats because the game is in Florida. There are as many Dawg fans, if not more, down there as Florida fans. The atmosphere during that game is unmatched and you are not going to get that by going to the other school’s campus. Keep the game there, keep the tradition, let us have our fun, and stop with this silly talk.

Herschel Talker

September 22nd, 2009
11:52 pm

Jeff – nice job on 790 today. You should have been more in the “Fire Booby” category. But otherwise, great job.

tabascojet

September 23rd, 2009
12:00 am

No complaints came from georgia before spurrier was coach. I say go ahead and play uga home games in athens and watch how fast florida continues to have the game remain in jax for their own home games. Without a 50/50 ticket split or revenue share id imagine you be begging to get back into the contract in short order.

Mutley

September 23rd, 2009
12:01 am

Great Tradition here, don’t mess with it. One of the few games to be played at a neutral site and just because it’s in Jax does not give the gators home field. The series started going the gators way when they hired Spurrier and Georgia hired Goof. See what keeping the wrong coach (Martinez) can do to a program.

45ACP

September 23rd, 2009
12:05 am

See you at Bennie’s Red Barn.

doggit

September 23rd, 2009
12:07 am

write about the falcons or something jeff – JAX is where it’s @

Pago Flyer

September 23rd, 2009
12:10 am

I was at Sanford Stadium when the Gators put about 50 points on the DAWGS, don’t want to see that again. And gee, downtown ATL…what a great tailgate place! Better be armed….

45ACP

September 23rd, 2009
12:23 am

The game should stay in Jacksonville. I have family in Palatka, FL. that I love to stay with and irritate at least once a year.

I need a cold beer

September 23rd, 2009
12:29 am

If its truly a neutral site it should be held in Alabama, or perhap South Carolina.

Coyote

September 23rd, 2009
12:31 am

I know I’m in the minority but I’ve been saying for years I’d prefer if this game was on campus. Half the season ticket holders never get to see this game in person because the same 40K renew their tickets every year. We miss the opportunity to bring arguably the season’s biggest game to our own campus. The city of Jacksonville benefits from the financial impact of the game instead of Athens and I’ve just never thought the atmosphere of any neutral site game was all that great. Plus, who says you can’t throw just as big a party on campus?

Tradition is overrated. Ask the Auburn fans if they regret moving the Iron Bowl to home and home.

Coyote

September 23rd, 2009
12:35 am

Oh, and just one more thing folks. For those of you that treat this weekend like a bowl trip, it might actually help UGA’s bowl options if more fans treated their actual bowl game like a bowl trip. This weekend more than likely impacts attendance at Florida bowls because only so many people can do that twice in the same season.

Hey Dude....

September 23rd, 2009
1:21 am

You didn’t grow up here man. You grew up in southern California. More power to you. Rock on. Hang ten and all of that. But, you don’t get us. And we laugh when you poke fun at us and our dimwitted brethren, and you write some good stuff, every now and then, and you make us laugh, every now and then, but you just don’t get it. This isn’t about a campus; this is about a weekend. This is about southern culture, which you just don’t get, no offense intended and I’m sure, none taken.

Legion Field is slowly rusting to death; nobody wants to play there, anymore. It was great while it lasted guys.

There is only one other truly neutral site left in college football: Texas/Oklahoma.

And Georgia/Florida.

This game turned Steve Spurrier into a Heisman Trophy winner. And Danny Weufferll (sp?) too. And Herschel Walker. The Gaffney boys. Lindsay Scott. Wayne Peace. Any wide receiver Florida has had the last ten years. Tim Tebow. The celebration a few years ago. Gene Washington and Richard Appelby. The Florida fans walking around the stadium with the goalposts and the Jacksonville mayor saying it’s, “Okay.” Larry Munson breaking his chair. Glynn Harrison’s touchdown run called back in 73, maybe 74. First and ninety nine a few years later. This isn’t about a campus.

Jeff, I lived in South Carolina for a few years in the ’80s and people would drive down to Jacksonville on Georgia/Florida weekend without any tickets and no prospects of tickets and they would go just to have fun; they don’t have anything like that up there. There’s nothing close to it in the ACC nor anywhere else in the SEC. The closest thing is an LSU night game; but still it’s different. Just as much alcohol, but you can’t describe it unless you’ve been there. My son saw his first keg stand there. Imagine the awkwardness defending myself to my son’s mother. And remember when they had the Northeast Florida Fair there? My son remembers poking a hungover carnie who was asleep and made him wake up and give my son a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl a 8:00 in the morning. The carnie grudgingly woke up and gave my son a helluva ride, for about thirty minutes, while he was still dozing. Such memories. Hey he was a kid and it was Halloween and dressed up as Peter Pan, give us a break.

It’s not about a campus.

Poke as much fun as you like. But it’s all true. And it doesn’t happen in Pasadena does it?

mtraininjax

September 23rd, 2009
3:38 am

Explain to me how only getting 10,000 away seats at Florida Field is a good deal?

Wow, Man .....

September 23rd, 2009
3:45 am

Hey dude, from your rant, it sounds like you’ve already made alcohol a large part of your son’s life. Pity.

AthensGA

September 23rd, 2009
4:52 am

Our landfill is filling up, Leave the trash in St. Simons and Jacksonville. You wouldn’t know a good tradition if it bit you. Leave it in Jax.

Landshark

September 23rd, 2009
4:53 am

Enter your comments here
Great Plan…Take one of the few unique college games and dumb it down into to a typical home and away game…(cue sarcasm bath). Both Schools have enough home games…this is an event, a special game, practically a bowl game in the middle of the season. It of course has the “traditional” element, along with the Red River Shootout and the Army-Navy Game.

Ted Striker

September 23rd, 2009
5:16 am

I’ve been attending the games in Jacksonville since college in the 80’s and this year will be no exception. I wouldn’t want to see games in Jacksonville disappear.

That said, ROTATE THE GAME!

For some of us — many of us — the luster of the trip has grown tarnished by the sheer monotony of it being in Jax every year.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy Jacksonville, it’s merely that I’d enjoy it much more if there a little less of it. Put it in Jacksonville every other year. Then alternate it to Gainesville or Athens the other times.

CoastDog

September 23rd, 2009
5:22 am

How stupid is playing Florida in Florida every year?

Barry

September 23rd, 2009
5:29 am

So let’s see:

1) Jacksonville hotels raise their rates by 50% or more during this weekend;
2) Most UGA fans are from north Georgia, not south Georgia and many have never seen a UGA-UF game;
3) Our state can use the revenue;
4) Florida receives a small but real home field advantage every year;
5) And the answer is: let’s KEEP the game in Jacksonville every year????

I have had this discussion with my friends from south Georgia every year. Despite the facts, they will not budge. They just love their Jacksonville/St. Simons/rip-off weekend, no matter what it does to the team or how many UGA fans are inconvenienced.

I think the game should be divided as follows: home and home, then J-ville, then Atlanta. But politically, that is unlikely to haappen.

Bob

September 23rd, 2009
5:56 am

That’s a pretty stupid plan. The tradition is awesome, and if it pays, fine. Why purposely try to run away from money? Profit is not evil, Karl.

FLA DAWG

September 23rd, 2009
6:31 am

How about a compromise – alternate between Jax and The Ga Dome. Then let’s hear Gator Fans say The Ga Dome is not a Neutral Site!

Sautee Dawg

September 23rd, 2009
6:44 am

Jeff, why don’t you ask Mr. College Football, (Barnhardt). He had an interesting piece about changing the location of the game a few months ago. Your suggestion not only involves disrupting our vacations but spending time with friends that have made this tradition a reunion for alot of fans.
Kinda sad when a tradition has to = a dollar!!!

JSS

September 23rd, 2009
6:48 am

“Hey Dude”
Jeff Schultz is from Long Beach, that is not surfer world, so you can lose that stereotype. People down in those parts are more likely to be longshoreman and “Tricky Dick Nixon” and Pete Wilson blame minorities for the woes of the world types… That was Reagan Country, people in those parts are just as scared of the ‘Hood’ as you and your chickenhawk friends. Man look at a map, he was so far from Pasadena, it is like driving from the Northside to Macon and if the I-10 or 710 has traffic it is 2 hours!

Jeff Schultz, we’ve been here before, the UGA-FLA on campus just became another game when they tried it in the 90’s… It can argued that Auburn-UGA is the game that would benefit from returning to a neutral field like the Dome. The series was best when they played in Columbus.

Jeff Schultz, bad for Georgia, bad for Florida, bad for Sports…
Paid for by the End The Madness Political Action Committee

JSS

September 23rd, 2009
7:09 am

Favorite SEC Moments… The Tradition, the games, the drunkeness!
James Jackson leads the GA Bulldogs to victory at Auburn… Drunken UGA fans refuse to leave Jordan-Hare. Water cannons are turned on them. My sainted Grandmomma who had marched in Birmingham in 1963 screamed at the television: “Somebody call the White House! Bull Connor done showed up at the Georgia-Auburn game!” Sniff-sniff

Next week…
Bear Bryant comes to Atlanta and the Selma “Bloody Sunday Riot” breaks out (four years early). Better known as I wonder why State troopers accompany coaches to the field… Southern Culture, you can’t beat it!

SuperB

September 23rd, 2009
7:17 am

Playing an AWAY game against Florida every year makes no sense. the only “tradition” is the yarly loss to the Gators. Play ‘em home and away!

hop

September 23rd, 2009
7:20 am

it is good to know that georgia does not care what jeff has to say and they will not on this point either.

fans loved to go to jackonville that provides a very special venue for this game.

it is one of the best traditions of college football and that tradition will continue, and jeff it is not about the money since the game would be a sellout where ever it is played.

ENRIQUE PUERTOS

September 23rd, 2009
7:26 am

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEEDS TO BE KEPT ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THAT TRADITION?…THERE IS NOTHING NEUTRAL ABOUT PLAYING THAT GAME AT FLORIDA EACH YEAR. THE CITY OF ATHENS AND GAINESVILLE AND THE FANS OF EACH RESPECTIVE SCHOOL ARE LOSING OUT WITH THIS ARRANGEMENT.

SatchelBuzz

September 23rd, 2009
7:26 am

Wouldn’t change the outcome.

THWG!!!

PTC DAWG

September 23rd, 2009
7:33 am

Leave the Game in Jax….I wonder if UF will have the flu after they either lose or UGA plays them close this year? LOL

AltamahaDawg

September 23rd, 2009
7:35 am

Wow, trying to get more crackers than MB this week?

F-105 Thunderchief

September 23rd, 2009
7:40 am

No. It should remain where it is. UGA is not at a disadvantage playing there. If that were true, it would not still lead the series despite the Spurrier era. It’s a great trip for fans. Jacksonville does not give Florida a natural advantage just because it’s in the same state. Ask any south Georgian (I am from there) and they’ll tell you there are at least as many UGA fans as Gator fans among the indigenous population. So, as far as moving the game … well, shut up.

TCFATL

September 23rd, 2009
7:43 am

Rotating the game between Jacksonville every other year and the respective Georgia and Florida campuses is absurd.

The result would be that Florida has a home game three out of four years in a row.

The only answer is to end Jacksonville and rotate this game between the campuses each year, like every other game.

Gen Neyland

September 23rd, 2009
7:47 am

This topic has more lives than 20 cats.