While University of Florida president Bernie Machen apparently is ready to extend the contract to play the Georgia-Florida football game in Jacksonville, Georgia is not at that point, UGA athletics director Damon Evans said Tuesday.
Machen was quoted by the St. Petersburg Times as saying at Florida’s athletics board meeting Monday that he will meet soon with officials in Jacksonville and expects the game to remain there on an annual basis. Machen said he thinks Georgia is “leaning the same way we are” and the parties are “headed toward a meeting of the minds.”
Not so fast, Evans basically replied.
“We haven’t even sat down to have our internal meetings about that yet,” Evans said. “We will do that in the month of July.
“We have not made any decision. . . . It’s not a big surprise that they [Florida officials] want to keep the game there. I guess they were able to come to their decision a lot faster. I just want to look at it hard, and that’s what we’re going to do. And then come out with a decision and move forward.”
At Georgia’s athletics board meetings last month, UGA President Michael Adams said he had “no predisposition” about what to do with the game. But Adams also said: “The thing that has consistently driven me in that equation is all the folks in South Georgia who say this is their best chance to see a live game. . . . There are things we want yet out of the city of Jacksonville that can even the playing field a bit.” Then he said again: “There is no predisposition to doing anything.”
Evans said Tuesday that ”nothing has changed” on Georgia’s stance since his earlier comments that the school is open to all options — keeping the game in Jacksonville, moving it to the campuses or playing it occasionally in the Georgia Dome — after the current Jacksonville contract expires with the 2010 game. But Evans, like Adams, is on record as saying that moving the game from its traditional home in Jacksonville would not be a decision to be made lightly. The game has been played there for all but two years since 1933.
Machen was quoted this week as saying he wants to resolve some security issues with Jacksonville but “hopefully we will be able to sign an extension before the end of the summer.”