We heard discussions about the annual Florida and Georgia game quite a bit this offseason. And though the idea of moving the series away from Jacksonville and back to a home and home series format was never truly warranted, it didn't stop Coach Kirby Smart from talking about it.
When Kirby Smart speaks, like most successful coaches, there's a direct and pointed purpose. For example, you think that "Atrocious" rant on the defense wasn't delivered with the intention of letting the young men in that room know that they aren't "all that?"
So, this summer when Kirby Smart addressed the idea of the game being moved away from Jacksonville, Smart immediately directed the conversation to where he sends most, recruiting.
The neutral-site game previously limited both programs' ability to conduct official visits in late October and early November, an extremely vital time in the recruiting process. Early signing period ends December 18th, and with more and more highly touted recruits early enrolling these days, losing that weekend is a major blow.
Not to mention it's both school's most valued rivalry.
In the class of 2019, the states of Florida and Georgia had 85 of 382 "blue-chip" recruits. That's 22.3% of the nation's best players, all within reasonable driving distance of this football game in Jacksonville. Players who weren't allowed to partake in the game on behalf of either school.
Kirby Smart's wishes have been granted, somewhat. Georgia and Florida will now be allowed to host recruits. As athletic director, Greg McGarity told Dawgnation's, Mike Griffith. “You wouldn’t have campus tours, but you could welcome them, The bottom line is there could be more variations.
So, Kirby Smart gets what he wanted, which was a reasonable request. You should be able to capitalize on an annual appearance at a neutral site. Look, this isn't the Chic-Fil-A kickoff, no offense. No, it's Georgia Florida. It's the WLOCP. It's hate week.
Recruiting is beginning earlier and earlier, pay for play discussions are at an all-time high, money being thrust into the sport is at an all-time high. These changes are more than warranted, they are borderline necessary.
Plus, all it means is more young men and women that get to partake in these games on behalf of the financial resources of the programs involved, and quite frankly, I'm more than ok with that.