Category Archives: Georgia-Florida
Each year, I look forward to the Georgia/Florida game more than any other. I was elated to see the Dawgs escape Jacksonville last season with a win over a mediocre Florida squad. However, one simple win over Florida’s worst team in 24 years did not change my opinion on this: The Cocktail Party should not be played in Jacksonville every year.
Across the internet, as there have been for years now, are impassioned defenses from the entrenched Dawgosphere (all of whom are excellent writers and must-reads during the first hour and a half of work each day) on why this game should be kept in Jacksonville. Other than a couple of comments here and there on those sites as to why the game should move from Jax, I have yet to see a definitive post on anywhere in favor of moving the game from Jax each season. Allow me to provide one.
First, Who I Am:
- I am a 2005 graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
- My freshman year at Georgia coincided with Mark Richt’s first season at the helm, 2001.
- I have been watching Georgia football since the Goff years (not saying this is a long time…just painting a picture of where this argument is coming from).
- The thought of Erk Russell and/or Herschel Walker does NOT make me soil myself, tho I must admit, that ESPN Herschel doc was pretty damn cool and gave me the chills quite a few times.
- I realize that Mike Adams and our Athletic Directors are always going to do what is in the best financial interest of the University, and if that means holding the game in Atlanta, Jacksonville, the Everglades or even Gainesville every year, they will do so.
There seems to be a divide among Georgia fans on this issue. Those who attended the University pre-2000 are wholly in favor of keeping the game in Jacksonville, while those who attended during the Richt years would like to see some sort of a home-at-home (ATL-JAX or Athens-Gainesville) set up. The pre-2000s are passionate regarding this issue, usually for the reasons outlined below.
After each of their reasons is my retort. I have yet to see logical responses to these retorts, either on the internet, or from older UGA grads in person. Any and all comments are welcome.
Reason #1: “We played just fine in Jacksonville under Dooley!”
Retort: Yes, that is true. However, once upon a time Army and Navy were relevant college football programs. Notre Dame was a powerhouse. Penn State…never mind. Times change. This line of thinking, as well as the constant nostalgia over plays, players and coaches from 30 years ago, is borderline pathetic…again, see Notre Dame. Florida was a completely different program back then. The demographics and high school programs in the state of Florida were different than they are today. Ditto for college football as a whole. Trotting out this logic would be like a Pittsburgh Pirates fan pointing out their dominance over the Atlanta Braves in the 70s and 80s and expecting that to hold true today.
Reason #2: “Richt’s record in road games is just fine…it’s not the venue…it’s Florida!”
Retort: Again, you are correct. Most years, Florida is the best (read: most talented) team that Georgia will play. Richt’s excellent road record has been compiled largely against teams where UGA has a talent advantage. Why a seemingly intelligent person would deem it logical to play a game one hour away from an opponent’s home stadium – a game that UF travels to by bus, and Georgia travels to by plane – and call it a neutral site game is beyond me. Why are we giving this advantage, however miniscule, away to a team that, most years, is more talented than Georgia? Why are we splitting the tickets 50/50 every season to, by and large, a more talented program? How does this make sense? Even if you stubbornly insist that the game is neutral, you are still taking away a home field advantage every other year in a game where UGA usually has inferior talent.
Reason #3: “It’s mental. Florida is just in our head! We just need to come out and GATA. SHOW THESE 19 YEAR OLDS SOME ERK RUSSELL CLIPS!”
Retort: I am sure it is somewhat mental. Georgia players probably do press more against Florida, they probably do feel like it’s a bigger game each year than the Florida players do. If one would agree that it is mental, and our players need to overcome this mental block, why not change something, anything (besides uniforms, of course) about this matchup to give the players a sense that they can own this series. A memorable end zone celebration can only hold up for so long. Every Florida fan I know (admittedly, again, in my age group) views this game as Georgia coming down to their region, getting whupped, and heading back to Athens with their tails between their legs. If Florida fans don’t even view this as a truly neutral site, why should we? You know there is not one Florida fan that would want to play this game in Atlanta every year.
Reason #4: We are throwing a bone to the south Georgia UGA fans.
Retort: I’m sorry, but this is irrelevant. The University of Georgia is located in Athens, Georgia, which happens to be located in the northeast region of the state. I cannot think of any other instance where a college sports team plays a game in a locale hundreds of miles away from their campus in order to appease a fan base in a different portion of the state. In addition, any talk of building a recruiting presence in south Georgia via this matchup being held in Jacksonville is negated by the fact that this series has been nothing but a Georgia curbstomping spanning the duration of every current and recent recruit’s time here on Earth.
Reason #5: We would look like giant pussies if we moved the game to a home-at-home.
Retort: Ironically, the most asinine reason for keeping the game in Jax also doubles as the one sliver of regret I’d have if the game moved. Look, nobody wants to look like a punk. However, let’s say you’re in a bar fight. The other guy, simply bigger and stronger than you, is beating your ass, punching you in the gut, throwing you to the floor, kicking you in the head. Every one punch you land is met with six of his. You’ve exhausted every ounce of effort and strength. Your friends are gone. Are you going to stay there, allowing him to beat you senselessly while you struggle to avoid injury and remain conscious, or are you going to attempt to get the hell out of there, admit defeat, and walk/crawl/run to safety? Would we get crap from UF fans if the series switched to alternating sites? Yeah, maybe, possibly, who cares? At the end of day, college football fans are always going to talk shit to each other, so just add this to the list. Do you know any Alabama fans that are still hung up on the Iron Bowl not being in Birmingham anymore? If so, my condolences.
This debate reached its nadir in 2008 when many a pre-2000 Georgia fan/blogger said “if we win this year, we will be 3-2 in our last 5 games…so much for that advantage!” That, combined with “UF did come to Athens in 1995…and look how that turned out!” might be the only two examples of bloggers actually resorting to small sample sizes to prove a point.
We now have a whole generation’s worth of evidence to show that this series is lopsided in favor of Florida. Is Jacksonville THE reason Georgia is losing six out of seven games to Florida? No. Is Jacksonville one of the many advantages that Florida carries coming into this matchup every year? I believe so. If this is something that the University can change to the possible benefit of our football program, then I believe it stands to reason that this change is worth a shot. Or, we can just show the team some Erk Russell vids, tell them to GATA, and eventually stumble across back-to-back W’s in this increasingly frustrating rivalry.