Gator Bowl: Pregame notes

semerson@macon.comJanuary 1, 2014 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The first thing anybody has noticed when they walked into EverBank Field this morning is Georgia's end zone. Or what is supposed to be Georgia's end zone.

But in white, bleeding through the black background, are the words "Jacksonville Jaguars."

It's some fitting symbolism.

As Jonathan Ganz, one of my Twitter followers, put it: "It appears no one cares about the Gator Bowl - not the teams, the fans or the groundskeepers."

Another testament is how little traffic there is outside the stadium. I drove in from my hotel to the stadium without having to stop, which is unheard of for a Georgia-Florida game. (That's actually putting it delicately: Normally at Georgia-Florida games you're tempted to just abandon your car and walk.) The parking lots and the walking traffic around the stadium also reflect what is shaping up to be a sparsely attended game.

At last check, Nebraska only sold about 3,500 tickets out of its 12,500 allotment, and Georgia had sold half of its 15,000 allotment. More tickets will be sold on the secondary market - for much cheaper price. At this point, why would you buy through the school?

The problem for schools in this bowl setup is that they're forced to buy a certain amount of tickets - that's the allotment - and at face value. So a lot of schools end up taking a financial hit for playing in a bowl. Georgia and Nebraska can at least absorb the hit, but others can't. Central Florida is reportedly set to lose $2 million by playing in the Fiesta Bowl.

But anyway ....

Crowd update

As of a half-hour prior to kickoff, the crowd is still ... lagging.

Very much lagging.

You know how at the Georgia-Florida game you can tell whose section is which by the red and black shirts on one aisle, and orange and blue starting on the other aisle? Well this time it'll just be splotches of red and black dispersed around the stadium.

Or maybe you can tell by Georgia having the sections with splotches of red and black, and Nebraska with aqua-colored seats.

Murray is here

Aaron Murray is with the team in warmups, just hanging around. Murray wasn't spotted at any team activities this week, and has limits on what he can and cannot do, as he's no longer an amateur athlete. (Murray's multiple autograph signing sessions took care of that.)

Christian LeMay is here too, in what will be his final game in a Georgia uniform. The redshirt sophomore plans to transfer to Jacksonville (Ala.) State next semester.

Conley playing

Georgia's leading receiver, Chris Conley, is indeed in uniform and warming up on the field. He doesn't quite look 100 percent, but that's what Mark Richt indicated after Conley sprained his ankle.

So at this point it appears Conley will play, and he'll see how the ankle feels as the game goes on.

Slive in attendance (for now)

SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity were huddling in the press box for a few minutes. If only I had planted my tape recorder on that spot this morning.

Slive is attending every SEC bowl game today, starting with the Gator. He'll fly to Orlando in time for the Capital One and Tampa for the Outback.

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