Georgia head coach Kirby Smart re-upped his desire to move the annual Florida-Georgia game from Jacksonville to the school’s respective stadiums at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.
The rivalry matchup is the only one in the conference played at a neutral site. The tradition is nearly 90 years old and has been disrupted on only three occasions: in 1943 because of World War II and in 1994 and 1995 when the Jacksonville Jaguars renovated their stadium.
Smart, looking to ride the momentum of Georgia’s first national championship in over 40 years, wants to be able to host recruits at the program’s biggest game of the year, which he can’t do at a neutral site. Neither can Florida.
“I’m competing all across the SEC, who host recruits at their biggest game,” Smart said on "SEC Now." “When Auburn plays Alabama, guess where the recruits are? When LSU and Alabama play, that’s where the biggest recruits want to go. It’s an opportunity for us to bring these kids, who fly in from all over the country — what game do they want to come see Georgia play? They’d like to see Georgia play Florida, but they can’t do that. It’s very important. Recruiting is very important. I just can’t get a Florida coach to agree with me."
Newly anointed Gators coach Billy Napier doesn’t necessarily agree with Smart. During Napier’s interview session Wednesday, he explained that he sees the merit of turning the bout into a home-and-home, but he also cited the importance of the history associated with playing in Jacksonville.
"I want to experience the game first, right?" Napier said. "I'd like to see that game in Jacksonville, experience that game before I have an opinion on that."
Ultimately, Napier said the decision was “above my pay grade.”
Regardless of what either coach wants, Jacksonville’s current contract for the game runs through 2025.
Additionally, moving Florida-Georgia could have a profound impact on Jacksonville’s tourism scene. An event impact study from 2019 by Visit Jacksonville showed an economic impact of $33 million.