Saturday, March 21, 2009

World's Largest Indoor Cocktail Party?

There has been a lot of talk in the past of moving the Florida-Georgia game away from Jacksonville, and according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the day may be coming.

The game has been played in Jax since 1933 (except for 1994 and 95, when the Gator Bowl was being renovated for the Jacksonville Jaguars), but the current contract will expire after next year's game. The Atlanta Sports Council is trying to talk UGA into lobbying for a venue change when they negotiate a new contract so the council can host the game once every four years in the Georgia Dome.

Naturally, UF athletics director Jeremy Foley isn't a fan. He told the AJC:

“Obviously, we have heard of these kind of discussions before. We have been strong proponents of keeping the game in Jacksonville and that has not changed. I have a great deal of respect for (UGA athletics director Damon Evans) and I know that he must do what he thinks is best for the University of Georgia. We believe the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville is a great tradition and we look forward to maintaining that tradition.”

Now, if you're Damon Evans, why wouldn't you want to host the game in Atlanta every once in a while? Georgia fans have always complained about the distance issue (Jax is about 90 minutes from Gainesville, more like 6 hours from Athens), so why not throw the Dawgs a bone?

I don't think it'll give the Bulldogs any kind of advantage in terms of support. There's a huge population of UF fans in Atlanta (after all, this happened. Note: you can't get a UGA plate in Florida), and they'll show up in full force. The atmosphere is pretty even in Jacksonville too, I think it's just more of a pride issue.

I've always been in favor of shaking this rivalry up a little. The neutral site thing is okay, but not great for me. I'd like to do it on a rotating four-year schedule between Gainesville, Atlanta, Athens and Jacksonville. The game would move around enough to satisfy the fans who say a regular home-and-home would take away the novelty that people seem so attached to. You also get to keep the neutral atmosphere two out of four years, or, if you want to get really wild, sell Sanford Stadium and The Swamp half and half like they do in Jax. It'd be pretty cool for players to experience all four environments in a career.

Here's my only problem with the Georgia Dome: it's a great place, but shouldn't it be reserved for the SEC Championship only? It's one thing for Alabama to play Clemson in an out-of-conference game there, but am I the only one who thinks it's weird to have Florida and Georgia play in the Dome to determine who goes back there a few weeks later for the conference title? The motto of almost every SEC team at the beginning of the season is "Get to Atlanta," and I think playing UF-UGA there would take something away from that.

What do you think? I'm open to ideas, just don't bring that "The-Landing-is-soooo-cool-what-would-we-do-without-it" garbage in here. 360 days of the year, The Landing sucks. It's just a mostly-empty area with some restaurants and bars that's near water where people get drunk before the game, and I think history has proven that people can stand around and get drunk anywhere, so that's not enough reason to hold the game in Jacksonville.

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