Georgia just won its first national championship since 1980, and now Kirby Smart is using his newfound power to advocate for change in one of college football’s best rivalry games.
Speaking at SEC Media Days, Smart said he believes the Georgia-Florida football game should move out of Jacksonville and be played at home campuses.
The reason? It all comes down to recruiting.
“I’m competing with guys from all over the SEC hosting kids at their biggest game,” Smart said on the SEC Network.
“When Auburn plays in Alabama, guess where the rookies are. They’re in Auburn. When LSU and Alabama play, guess where the biggest rookies want to go. It’s an opportunity for us to bring those kids who come in from all over the country.. What game do they want to see? They would like to see Georgia play against Florida, but they can’t do that.
With the annual game against Florida played at the neutral site, that means Georgia has three SEC home games every two seasons in the conference’s eight-game schedule.
Welcoming prospects during official visits to campus and to the stadium during home games is a major aspect of the recruiting process, providing future hires with a first-hand view of the college and field experience.
And, while experiencing the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party is a spectacle in itself, it’s reasonable to think that having Florida on campus in Georgia, and vice versa, would be an even more intense environment.
Jacksonville has hosted the Florida-Georgia game nearly every year since 1933 and represents a location near the border between the two states.
The city has signed a contract with the schools to keep play in Jacksonville through 2023 with an option to extend the agreement through 2025.
Additionally, schools are believed to make more money playing the game in Jacksonville than they would playing it on their respective campuses.
Time will tell if Smart is able to dissuade Georgia from this deal and change the face of this rivalry for the first time in nearly a century.
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