If you don’t have that subscription to The Athletic, well, that’s a shame, because you can’t read Seth Emerson’s excellent summary ($$) of where things stand with the Cocktail Party.
Some points worth mentioning:
- Recruiting, which is Smart’s reason for leaving, is complicated. Apparently the NCAA has one set of rules for games like Georgia-Florida, in which only the designated home team can give complimentary tickets to recruits, and another for games like the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, in which both teams can. (Although in both cases, there can be no contact between recruits and the coaches.) On top of that, Georgia and Florida, by agreement, don’t comp tickets. You only get one guess as to why.
- Speaking of which, the money is good — roughly $3 million more every two years. “It’s financially advantageous to play in Jacksonville every year because you’ve got that consistent revenue,” McGarity said. With a new contract offer looming, that’s likely to get even better.
- Television, more to the point, CBS. “When the SEC-CBS deal was signed in 2008, Georgia and Florida asked for a stipulation that their game would always be at 3:30 p.m., according to former Florida president Bernie Machen. SEC commissioner Mike Slive backed them on it.” Partly that was done out of a concern from a fan-behavior standpoint about what might happen if there were more night games. Presumably, that’s a concern that lessens in the event the series goes home-and-home.
I am still of the position that money is driving this particular train, if only because money is pretty much the engine for any significant decision in college athletics these days. I can’t deny that I’ve heard more noticeable whispering that a decision has already been made to pull the plug on Jacksonville, but I’m skeptical that such a call would be made this early without first hearing what the city has to offer this go ’round.
One other thing: if recruiting is such a big deal, and Mullen’s recruiting already lags in comparison with Smart’s, why give the Gators another home game every other year to compensate?