Does Jacksonville make Georgia-Florida bigger?

The announcement that CBS again will televise the Georgia-Florida game this season with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff surprised no one, I’m sure. CBS loves that game and has aired it every year since 2003. It would have been news had they not chosen to televise it. 

The annual meeting of the Bulldogs and Gators in Jacksonville and all the fan hoopla that surrounds it is rightfully viewed as one of those colorful traditional rivalry spectacles that makes college football worth watching, even if you aren’t a particular fan of either school.

Which is perhaps one of the best arguments for keeping the game in Jacksonville. Sure, it helps that Florida and Georgia are usually battling for the SEC East title, but that’s not what has elevated this game to the level of Oklahoma-Texas or USC-Notre Dame over the years. 

No, it’s the celebratory aspect of what the school presidents would prefer you not call the World’s Greatest Outdoor Cocktail Party that makes this a special game. And I’m not talking about the drinking (though I will say that even if Florida’s prez was successful in getting the number of alcohol-serving establishments around the stadium reduced, it probably wouldn’t cut back on the number of folks getting blitzed; it would just mean more business for the bars that were open or more people bringing their own).

What elevates this game is the way Georgia students and fans turn a trip to Jacksonville into a fall beach vacation. It’s the elaborate tailgating and partying. It’s the 50-50 split of the crowd inside the stadium. It’s the setting by the St. Johns River.

Yes, I agree with Mark Richt that Jacksonville isn’t really a “neutral” site, but that never seemed to matter during the Dooley years domination of the series by the Dogs. Yes, Jacksonville is overpriced and the traffic is terrible. And, yes, Georgia-Florida held every fourth year at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta or even on a home-and-home basis in Athens and Gainesville still would be a major SEC matchup every year. 

But would it be a lock for a national television slot? Would it garner the national attention that it does in Jacksonville? Would thousands of Bulldogs and Gators fans really flock to Atlanta a week before the game? Can you see the fans really tailgating at the same level in the the railroad gulch around the Georgia Dome? Would Georgia-Florida outside of Jacksonville remain one of the marquee games of the college football season?

I’m not so sure.

(A computer glitch temporarily took this post down and deleted any comments that had been made. Feel free to repost your comments.)

67 comments Add your comment

JenniferGO Dawgs

July 8th, 2009
4:37 pm

Are you there to tailgate or to watch the game? I am there to watch the game! Tailgating is fun but really what is more important, hmmmmmmmm GAME? Or TAILGATING? I say alternate Jacksonville and the Dome, because it is not neutral, never has been, even when we were kicking your tails with Dooley (THE GREAT ONE!). Back to my question…..The GAME is more important, so lets play some football! GOOOOOOOOO DAWGS!!!!!!!

dawgstephen

July 8th, 2009
4:51 pm

UGA-FLA in JAX makes as much sense as UT- FLA in Nashville. wanna go there? i thought so. home and home.

dawgstephen

July 8th, 2009
4:57 pm

As fun as jacksonville is, and I have been there plenty of times to tell about it, there is nothing like a Saturday afternoon in Athens. How many UGA fans have ever gotten to see a game in the swamp? I do not consider what happened in the 90’s in the 2 yrs of home and home as even relevant. Goff was coaching and now we have Richt.

Folks remember, if not for “tradition”, we would have left Baton Rouge last year for a HOME GAME IN ATHENS WITH THE GATORS NOT IN JAX!!!!

HOME AND HOME

chazzo

July 8th, 2009
5:30 pm

Jax is awesome. Leave it alone. It is a great tradition. Home and home would hurt the rivalry and both teams to some degree. Despite the difference in milage, the town itself is pretty divided and is close to the georgia line. It is the one issue on which I disagree with Richt. Go down there and kick some tail. Don’t whine about a few hours and a few degrees. Georgia used to own that town every October. The key is keep the week prior open. Dooley did it all those years, and it was one of the first changes Spurier made when he got to UF. I would be interested to know what the overall record in the series is for the team that has the idle week prior.

chazzo

July 8th, 2009
5:43 pm

I’d like to recant that last bit about bye weeks. I looked at old schedules. UGA was tearing it up through the 70s and 80s without bye weeks. They did schedule light teams, though (Tulane and Richmond) not LSU at home. Bottom line, just go down there and win… lose the doubt, don’t try to make excuses or finesse it. Just win it.

Cuz

July 8th, 2009
5:44 pm

Jennifer, there is a game on the last Saturday in October in that big stadium across from the Landing? Who knew?

Cuz

July 8th, 2009
5:50 pm

chazzo, Pope Spurrier has already ex-communicated you. Too late to recant.

johnnie Ray

July 8th, 2009
6:46 pm

Lets face it people….. Florida has the better football program.UGA had it during the 70s and 80s. CMR needs to get on the ball.If he doesnt show vast improvement soon with the defense allowing so many points being scored on the dawgs, well then Markies a$$ should be grass. Willie Martinez is simply in over his head. He needs to be a division II coach in a nutshell. If Booboos #s dont improve in short yardage and red zone situations well then his a$$ should be grass too. Im tired of seeing my dawgs getting blown out and struggling with teams like Vanderbilt. We need an Urban Meyer who has a proven record and performs day in and day out. Hope CMR gets it done because Im growing a little tired of him not winning the BIG and Crucial games.

dUmB DAwg

July 8th, 2009
6:55 pm

tHIs iS a stUPId tOPiC aND eVErBoDy kNOWs tHAt bOtH fLOridA aND gEORgIa aRE bIg sTAtEs. JaCKsonViLLe iS onLY A bIG cITY. tHis iS sO dUMb……..

Natureboy809

July 9th, 2009
11:04 am

If he thinks that Florida wouldn’t have many fans in Atlanta, he must not come to Atlanta very often. There are tons of band wagon jort wearers here.

MaconKnight

July 9th, 2009
1:17 pm

keep the game in JAX. You don’t here Texas saying move there game with OKLA. to home and home from Dallas, even though they have lost 6 out of the last 9 games they have play OKLA. STOP B!@#$HING about where this game is played. If you don’t want to go to JAX then stay home, WATCH the game on TV.

AltamahaDawg

July 9th, 2009
1:28 pm

The one thing that does not make J-ville game any more special, is the 19th blog about it in the past month.

SSI gator

July 9th, 2009
3:30 pm

roho -

Then there would not be any GA fans here at all

Allen

July 10th, 2009
12:42 am

The game should alternate between Atlanta and Jacksonville every other year. Neutral sites. Crowd still split 50-50. Same tradition. No home and home. Certainly NOT 1 of every 4 years in Atlanta. Why should Georgia and all its Georgia fans be so intent on enriching our southern neighbor at our own expense each year? Let’s share the wealth, folks. It’s only fair. Georgia Dome / Alltel Stadium / Georgia Dome / Alltel Stadium . . . Atlanta / Jacksonville / Atlanta / Jacksonville . . . it’s not that difficult.

tim

July 10th, 2009
3:39 pm

Amazing I don’t remember the UGA fans whinning about moving the game in the 70’s most of the 80’s and for that matter a large part of the 60′.But now that you are having your head handed to you every year you want to whine and cry. BOO HOO its not fair. Shut up deal with it tell your coach to get better. See you this fall at the next bloodletting. GO GATORS

Dawg Grad from 1975

July 13th, 2009
2:12 am

The GA Islands needthis game for economic reasons.The Guv will never allow this game to go to Atlanta.

Candice

July 18th, 2009
12:48 am

So, when exactly is this Florida-Georgia game thing?
No one freaking tells me and i kind of want to know