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Kirby Smart reacts to latest news on Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during a preseason scrimmage on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

ATHENS - Kirby Smart shrugged off Georgia exercising an option its had available before to provide tickets to prospects when it’s the designated home team in the rivalry matchup with Florida.

“We’ve always been able to do that; you make an independent decision that each university can decide how they want to do their tickets,” Smart said. “We did it with Clemson, we’ll do it with Oregon, we do it all the time.

“(But) per NCAA rules we are not allowed to see them or talk to them. We can’t do anything with them, so it’s really a moot point.”

Smart has been vocal about his desire for Georgia to be on a level playing field with Alabama and other SEC programs he is being paid to beat each year, wanting UGA to play its designated home game with Florida in Athens.

Smart went toe-to-toe with Florida legend Tim Tebow over the topic in a live SEC Network television appearance at SEC Media Days in July in what could be remembered as the turning point in the direction of the location of the game.

WATCH: Kirby takes epic stand on wanting home game in Georgia, debates Tebow

The Bulldogs have directed $240 million in funding toward football facilities that Smart is eager to show off to recruits at each opportunity.

Georgia’s current contract to play Florida in Jacksonville every year expires in 2023, with UGA not exercising an option to extend through 2025.

Florida fans and Jacksonville enthusiasts had expressed some hope that providing tickets to prospects could satisfy Smart’s recruiting intentions.

Smart made it abundantly clear it does not, elevating speculation that this season’s game with the Gators at TIAA Bank Field could be the last time Georgia plays an SEC-designated home game away from Sanford Stadium.

“(Prospects get to go, but what good does that do in terms of recruiting?” Smart said. “You don’t get to spend time with them and host them.”

When recruits come to campus for official visits, schools are allowed to pay for family transportation, meals and lodging. Current players often host the prospects and take them out, showing them the campus and explaining how Georgia football works.

RELATED: Jacksonville mayor vows to fight against Georgia home game in Athens

Smart and his coaching staff also spend a great amount of time with the players and their family members on campus, watching film and letting them sit in on position meetings and pregame and postgame locker room settings.

There has been speculation the SEC could go to a nine-game conference schedule when or if the College Football Playoffs are expanded.

It is possible there could be three-city rotation if or when the league schedule expands.

Jacksonville is expected to make an aggressive offer to stay in the rotation for the game, and Peach Bowl executive director Gary Stoken is believed to be interested in hosting the game in Atlanta, too.

Gainesville — which has a municipal airport with commercial airlines, while Athens still does not — might also be interesting in hosting the game.

New Gators coach Billy Napier was lukewarm when asked about the location of the game. Like Smart, Napier has some new facilities to show off with the opening of a new $85 million football facility.

Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks, who has been a driving force in the support of Smart’s championship plans, said UGA is in no rush to make any decisions on the future location (s) of the Georgia-Florida football games.

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