More Jacksonville grist for the Georgia mill

A couple more thoughts on the should-the-Georgia-Florida-game-stay-in-Jacksonville debate:

First, here’s some more history from Tony Barnhart’s blog post today.

… 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…

Now, I’ll disagree a little with Barnhart with regard to the 1992 loss, in that I think Georgia had the best team in the SEC East that year, but overall, I think his point here is sound.

Then, there’s also this cold, hard set of facts brought to you by your friendly Gator athletic department.

… Florida Associate Athletics Director Greg McGarrity, likely to be involved in the negotiations, told the Sentinel that keeping the game in Jacksonville saves each school almost $2 million every two years and allows more fans to attend the game than any Georgia site could.

Each team makes $3.8  million every two years under the current format in Jacksonville, McGarrity said, yet a typical home-and-home pays about $2 million to the home team. That means every other year, either Florida or Georgia would have to miss out on the money. “Even in conservative dollars, you’re missing $1.5 million over a two-year period,” McGarrity said. “That money can do each institution a lot of good.”

The Atlanta Sports Council is pushing the Bulldogs to fight for a Georgia Dome hosting once every four years. But the biggest stadium in Georgia would muscle out more than 5,000 fans who go to the Jacksonville game every year. Jacksonville Municipal Stadium holds 76,877 fans compared to 71,228 in the Georgia Dome.

“You’ve got (almost) 6,000 people now that have been there forever and you’re telling them, ‘Sorry folks, you won’t be able to go to the Georgia game this year,'” McGarrity said. “Who will be the 6,000 people? Where do you cut back? It’s not like those tickets aren’t tough to get anyway. Both institutions are turning down hundreds of thousands per year.”

Now obviously that last argument doesn’t apply if the series goes home and home – in that case, only about nine or ten thousand Georgia fans will be able to attend the Swamp every other year, although another forty five or fifty thousand of the Dawg faithful would be able to catch a game in Athens than get to now in Jax.  But if those figures are true – and I haven’t seen anyone argue differently – there’s no question that playing the game in Jacksonville has some clear pluses to it.

So, let’s sum up a few things about this debate.  On the side of those wishing to keep the WLOCP, you’ve got this:

  1. The results of the series over the past four decades have been driven by talent and coaching.
  2. Moving games from Jax to Atlanta would mean less fans would be able to see the game.
  3. Changing the series to a home-and-home would cost the schools money.

On the side of those wanting a move, you’ve got this:

  1. Money being spent in the local economies of Athens and Gainesville, instead of Jax.
  2. Greater travel for the Florida team and its fans every other season.
  3. Speculation that such a move would benefit Georgia’s on-field performance.

Sorry, but I honestly don’t see how the scales balance there.

And I’d like to reiterate one more thing that I touched on in the comments to my previous post on this subject.  I’ve been to every game in Jacksonville since 1979 and I attended the ’95 debacle in Athens.  I’ve experienced the gamut of emotions leaving those games.  I’ve been happy, sometimes deliriously so.  I’ve been sad, sometimes almost crushed.  I’ve been resigned.  I’ve been angry.  I’ve been disgusted.  I’ve cursed Spurrier.  I’ve cursed Goff.

But one thought that’s never crossed my mind as I’ve trudged back to my car after the game is… we’d have won today if this had been played in Athens.  And I’ve never heard another Georgia fan say that after a game in all that time, either.  Why is that?


Filed under Georgia Football

43 responses to “More Jacksonville grist for the Georgia mill

  1. HVL Dawg

    Can we quit talking about this subject, please?

    No matter how you slice or dice this discussion, we end up looking like wussies for even having it while the Gators ar winning championships.

    I know the reason we are talking about it is because CMR said his little thing on it, but can we just ignore the next person who brings it up?


  2. Charlie Gator

    If the game is to stay in Jax, then both schools should push for more money and concessions from the Jax people. I know times are hard, but this means a lot to the city of Jacksonville.


  3. there is no debate

    To Tri Guy, Irwin F Fletcher, et al,

    Will you guys finally STFU about moving this game! You whine when someone chooses not to “refute” your baseless arguments and dismiss any legitimate comments when they turn yours on its head.

    This game is NOT about location or venue. It’s NOT about logistics. It’s NOT about revenues to Jacksonville, FL. It’s NOT about the weather, or bugs, jean shorts, mullets, or the price of columbian hash.

    It’s about consistently having the better team and proving it on the field. It’s about having the mental attitude of a champion, not a whiner.

    For christ’s sake, stop believing your worthless arguments that you cherish so and realize that this game is not moving. It’s NOT going to happen.

    You can continue to think everyone else a fool, but my philosophy is shared with the esteemed Senator, Barnhart, Damon Evans, Jeremy Foley, Paul Westerdawg, and 99% of all GA fans with a pair.

    See y’all in Jacksonville!


    • Well, if experts like Tony Barnhart and Jeremy Foley, who CLEARLY has the best interests of UGA at heart, say it’s so, then I guess I’m wrong.

      I guess I’ll have to find solace with Mark Richt and the rest of the uneducated, wussified 1%.


      • I agree with the sarcasm on the Foley part, but Barnhart is a Georgia alum that wrote a book entitled “What it Means to be a Bulldog”, so I would argue he does care about the best interests of the program at heart.


        • there is no debate

          I keep trying to tell the guy but he will not listen.

          I’m done.


        • yeah, I only meant that part to be about Foley. I should have worded that differently. The “expert” part was directed at Barnhart b/c I think he’s a hack. My bad. E me.


        • Hobnail_Boot

          Barnhart was selected to co-author the UGA version of the “What It Means To Be A _____” series. You’re giving him way too much credit.


  4. But one thought that’s never crossed my mind as I’ve trudged back to my car after the game is… we’d have won today if this had been played in Athens.

    We would have won the game in 2002, 2003, *and* 2006 (really.) had it been played in Athens.


    • ’06? ’06? Seriously? Georgia lost to Vandy at home that year, for goodness sakes.


      • I don’t know about ’06, but I’d say ’92,’02, ’03, and possibly either ’99 or ’00.

        Barnhart does make a good point in that it’s not like we’re 3-16 against South Carolina during that span, but it doesn’t make the record any less appalling.

        Vanderbilt has beaten UGA as many times as UGA has beaten UF over that span.


        • Again, based on what? You do a great job speculating, but why would things have been different?

          In ’92, Georgia blew a game in Athens against UT. In ’02, the loss in Jax was the only one on the schedule, so that points to Florida as the reason rather than the locale. Georgia lost by 16 in ’99 and by 11 in ’00 – that’s an awful lot to be making up with a different stadium.

          As for ’03, Georgia’s worst loss of the year, and the most lopsided loss under Richt at that time, came in the Dome against LSU. Georgia played LSU tougher that year in Baton Rouge. Maybe it would have been a better game in Athens, but I think I’ll let Keiwan Ratliff have the last word on things:

          “A lot of this game is mental,” cornerback Keiwan Ratliff said. “If they let it get into their head that they always lose to us, that could hurt them. But I would love it to be in their heads, and stay in their heads for the next 20 years.”

          Notice that he didn’t say anything about where the heads were suited up.


          • Senator,

            There’s no amount of data or evidence I could provide that would change your mind. But, there is a mountain of data about how teams score more points, turn the ball over less, commit less penalties, etc. at home.

            Also, the UGA team that played LSU in the dome that year was slightly different than the one that played in BR. Our O-line wasn’t even practicing together by the end of that season.


            • Included in that mountain of data, I presume, would be the fact that Georgia under Richt enjoys a better record in opponents’ stadiums than in Athens. And that Georgia’s record in the Dome isn’t anything spectacular.

              I’m willing to at least concede something here, if there’s some legitimate data to throw at me. The thing is, the won/loss breakdown is pretty damning, IMO.


              • Senator,

                In the end, I guess it just ends up being a circular argument. There’s no way to “prove” what would happen in different locales. Likewise, there is no way to “prove” that UF is not going to slip back into the mediocrity it was stuck in in the ’80’s, although I see absolutely nothing that would point to that happening.

                I’ve yet to hear from anyone, on any site, a reasonable explanation on why we should expect anything to change in the current situation other than “well, we used to beat them” or “these things are cyclical”. I’m not getting my hopes up that we can count on UF to revert to their previous futility. Our success in Jax in the 70’s and 80’s is as much a statement as to how UF couldn’t get out of its own way as anything.


                • Well, Georgia is 2-3 over the last five years. That’s nothing to brag about, but it’s a damned sight better than where things were before Richt.

                  I just think the problem is due far more to mental preparation than where the schools play. What’s frustrating to me about that is that I thought Richt finally got it right in 2007. His guys came out punching and never let up. But here we are after a bad loss listening to excuses about the weather. Seriously, if you played for Georgia right now, how inspired would you be by that?

                  From a motivational standpoint, we shouldn’t be using Jax as an excuse, but as a chip on our shoulder. Richt’s a good enough motivator – hell, he’s a great motivator – when it comes to playing in other schools’ stadiums. I don’t get the argument that that doesn’t translate when he sees the St. John’s River.


                • sh

                  people said the same thing about FSU just a few short years ago. That program had finished its 15th consecutive top 5 finish and there was no reason to think that wouldn’t continue. But, things happen. Circumstances change. Coaches move on – assistants move on. I’m not saying Meyer is leaving but he lost his OC and his DC may eventually leave. If there is one thing that is certain in football and life, it’s that change is constant and yes, teams and organizations are cyclical. No one would have ever thoughts Nebraska would struggle like they have – but they have, regardless of Tom Osborne’s retirement.

                  One day, and I don’t think it will be long, UGA will start defeating FL with consistency and regularity. I do not think FL will retreat to Galen Hall or Charlie Pell status, but I do think an event, or a combination of events, will change their fortunes. Watch Jeremy Foley leave or Charlie Strong decide to take another job.

                  It will happen. It always does.


      • …and lost to Florida by a grand whopping astonishing otherworldly total of…7 points, off a Kregg Lumpkin kickoff fumble.

        That Florida team dinked around against lesser teams the whole year. I figure we would have nipped them the same way Auburn did (unlike Florida, we took care of business on the Plains).


        • The only reason Georgia was in that game was because of a Tebow fumble deep in Florida territory that the Dawgs cashed in on a very short drive.

          The Dawg offense did nothing most of the day. The defense benefited from Meyer’s stubborn insistence on Tebow playing and not gaining much yardage on early downs and then having to send Leak in with his hands tied behind his back.

          The Gators’ defensive unit was by far the best unit on the field that day.


          • And yet all those things happened, no?

            I’m sticking to my guns. That Florida team farted around against demonstratively inferior competition until the last two games of the year. We were a BS facemask penalty (learn to tie your chinstraps, Gators) away from having a potential game-tying drive with a few minutes left.


    • Kevin

      We would have won those years had we moved all of our shoelaces from our left shoes to our right shoes, and vice versa before the game.

      You know the one true thing that would help us win? Scoring more points then UF. We should try that. We actually do that better away from UGA anyway.


      • Kevin

        *away from Athens, I mean. But you get the idea (Richt’s road record shows no reason that we are dependent to stay home to win)


  5. SH

    here’s a kind reminder of what we owe FL this year.

    yeah, winning is jax is the best. would be especially nice in ’09.


    • SH

      sorry here’s the link.


      • SH

        captain obvious here, but watching this video a few times reminds me of the impact that Harvin and Murphy had on this team. Tebow had 3 rushing TD’s, but both passing went to harvin and murphy. And don’t present the logic that Demps, Rainey and others can replace the two aforementioned. Ain’t gonna happen.

        With holes on their OL, I expect to see a dip in their offensive production. Although FL fans would never agree.

        Their D, however, is another story.


      • Yeah, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. TDs Richt, TDs! Florida counts by 7’s, we’re never going to beat them kicking field goals.


      • Dog in Fla

        A highly condensed 1:14 nightmare of the worst football Georgia has ever played in Jacksonville or anywhere else for that matter.

        Wonder if former UF receiver Louis Murphy is going to be able to slingshot himself past a defensive back by grabbing the defensive back’s jersey in the NFL.


      • Left to Right

        That’s even more awful than I remember.


    • SH

      here’s another. Enjoy coach.


  6. godawg

    I resent McGarrity or The Sentinel referring to the Georgia Dome as the “biggest stadium in Georgia…” If you mean the Georgia Dome, say “the Georgia Dome,” if you mean the biggest stadium in Georgia, say “Sanford Stadium.”


  7. Mike In Valdosta

    Just leave it in Jax.

    I assure you, if we score more points, we will win.

    We sound like a bunch of panty wearing reactionaries. “It’s not fair”, when have you ever heard a winner complain about fairness?


  8. heyberto

    I like Barnhart’s post on this and agree with all the reasons he has for not taking it out of Jax. Keep it there. Suck it up dogs and keep up the fight. It will balance out over time.


  9. S.E. Dawg

    Maybe there should be a Congressional hearing on the subject.


  10. Macallanlover

    Barnhart and the Senator are dead on here, them majority of UGA fans overwhelmingly support playing the game in JAX. Location is not the issue, and our fans need to quit whining. Bye weeks and execution on 1-2 plays per game are the most significant factors…period. I am embarrassed by the whining of a small group of fans who have led CMR astray. I cannot think of another subject where our coach has been more off-base than this one.

    Win this year and we will be 3-3 over the past six years, and two of those UF has won the SEC. Florida fans were whining about the same subject when SOS came to Gainesville, so they are just as bad. Or at least a portion of both fanbases are equally bad/wrong. The Cocktail Party is one of CFB’s best traditions, don’t screw it up. You don’t get a second chance at something this special.

    UGA players/coaches need to quit listening to the fans who have given them a reason to doubt themselves. If you cannot make a 45 minute flight, sleep in a hotel room the night before, and perform well in 75-80 degree temps on national TV at age 21, you are in WAY over your head.


  11. Vinings Dog

    Tradition is tremendously important to college football. It trumps all the economic arguments and won-loss records. The game should obviously stay in Jax, because it is a GREAT tradition, just like our hedges.

    What a beautiful setting for a football game. Have the people wanting to move the WLOCP partied on any of the boats at the docks before the game? Have they actually heard Florida fans say that we would not beat them so often if we had to go to Gainesville to play? I have.

    I will be willing to bet that there is a generational divide on this issue, with the older dogs wanting to keep the game in JAX, because we have such great memories of all the “property destroyed” and “running out of his shoes thinking of Montreal and the Olympics.”

    The whole nation watches our game in Jax, just like Texas – Oklahoma in Dallas, and it should be maintained in its current venue (or at least until an 88,000 seat stadium is built in Savannah).

    And speaking of Texas-Oklahoma, I personally would hate for the location of that game to be changed. Tradition means something to college football fans!


  12. Robert

    Man, I would like nothing better than to send the GPOOE off crying one more time…

    We need to be his Ole Miss of 2009.

    Oh yeah, and leave the game in Jacksonville.