Georgia coach Kirby Smart has shared some of his strongest comments yet about wanting to move the Georgia-Florida football game to school campuses rather than playing it in Jacksonville, Florida. Florida, every season.
During an SEC Network interview at SEC Media Days on Wednesday, Smart said having the game in Jacksonville, where it has been played every season but two since 1933, hurts recruiting because, according to NCAA rules, prospects are not permitted to attend play from the neutral site. .
When Georgia was named the home team in Jacksonville, they only played three SEC home games in Athens, Georgia that season. This gives the Bulldogs fewer opportunities to bring recruits to campus.
“I am in competition with [coaches] all over the SEC who welcome rookies in their biggest games,” Smart said. “When Auburn plays in Alabama, guess where the rookies are? When LSU and Alabama are playing, that’s where the biggest rookies want to go. It’s an opportunity for us to bring in these kids, who fly in from all over the country — what game do they want to come see Georgia play? They would like to see Georgia play Florida, but they can’t.
“It’s very important. Recruitment is very important. … I just can’t get a coach from Florida to agree with me on [moving the game].”
Last year, the Jacksonville City Council approved a contract extension that will keep the SEC contest there for at least the 2023 season. There is also an option to play there in 2024 and 2025. This season, the Bulldogs and the Gators are scheduled to play at TIAA Bank Field on October 29.
New Gators coach Billy Napier, speaking to reporters at SEC media days, said he wants to coach in the game before forming an opinion on where he should be played.
“I want to experience the game first,” Napier said. “I’d like to see that game in Jacksonville, experience that game, before I have an opinion on it. There’s a lot of credibility for both [arguments]. Home-and-home would obviously be fantastic, but there’s also a certain tradition there. There is a rivalry there. Time will tell us.”