UGA Football

Smart on his only drawback of having Georgia-Florida in Jacksonville

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. AP

As far as the outcome of the game, head coach Kirby Smart doesn’t think the Georgia-Florida rivalry skews one way or the other at its neutral site in Jacksonville.

With the fan bases split down the middle at EverBank Field, the game holds a true 50-50 feel.

But there is one area, however, where Smart believes the neutral location can be a drawback for his team and the Gators.

That comes from not being able to host recruits every other year on campus for this game.

“I've always said you lose a great opportunity once every other year, and you figure in your state you're going to have a hundred top players,” Smart said. “Every four years they're in high school, there's two opportunities to bring them to a big game, to an environment that would be second to none. You lose that opportunity. You don't get that opportunity. They also lose that opportunity.”

Both schools' administrations have agreed not to host recruits for the annual rivalry game in Jacksonville. The SEC does allow for schools to host recruits at neutral-site games if they choose to do so, however.

While not due to recruiting purposes, it often gets brought up that the two programs should move the rivalry to their home stadiums. The last time this happened was in 1994 and 1995, when renovations were being made to the stadium.

“At this point, the grass is always greener, and so it would be interesting to switch it up maybe,” Georgia senior tight end Jeb Blazevich said. “But it’s just awesome being down there, too. The world’s largest tailgate, I know they get a bunch of rowdy fans in there, and everybody loves it. We love playing there.”

Outside of the two home-and-home years in the 1990s, the Georgia-Florida game has been played in Jacksonville annually since 1933. With each team banking more than $3 million per year to play the game, the payout is more than what a home game would bring every other season.

But while there are financial and fan-related incentives to hold this game in Jacksonville, there is a thought that both programs do miss out on the opportunity to woo future prospects once every two years.

“I don't think it's an impact on anything other than the fact you lose an opportunity at a good chance to recruit prospects and have them on your campus,” Smart said.