Kirby Smart’s strong stance on Georgia-Florida

Recruiting is the lifeblood for every team, and Kirby Smart's feelings about the future of the Georgia-Florida series have to do with being at a recruiting disadvantage
Curtis Compton/AJC

Just in case anyone was still wondering, UGA coach Kirby Smart made it clear yet again where he stands on the future of the Georgia-Florida game on Wednesday.

The topic came up when Smart exchanged playful banter with Florida legend Tim Tebow on the SEC Network during SEC Media Days

“I’m competing against (coaches) all across the SEC, who host recruits at their biggest game,” Smart said, via

“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 about (moving the game).”

Smart’s stance is based solely on recruiting – and the disadvantage it gives the Bulldogs by playing the annual showdown in Florida each year. On the flip side, some UGA fans prefer the neutral site because it’s a tradition, and they like the annual trip to the Florida beaches at the start of the winter.

Georgia-Florida has been played in Jacksonville almost every year since the 1933, and it could stay that way after former UGA athletics director Greg McGarity was hired as the president and CEO of Gator Bowl Sports, which helps organize the SEC rivalry game. New UGA athletics director Josh Brooks was McGarity’s hand-picked successor with the Bulldogs.

The “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” will be played in Jacksonville through at least the 2023 season, with a two-year option until 2025, per DawgNation’s Mike Griffith. The future of the game will decided by athletic adminstrators at both schools.

Back to Smart: His wish is for a home-and-home series, but the Georgia coach had a suggestion for Tebow and other purists who think the SEC East game should remain at a neutral location:

“Tell you what, y’all call the AD down at Florida and ask him to come to Atlanta and come play us, we’ll play in Atlanta any time they want to play. It’s not an advantage for anybody. You look at the history of it, the one with the better team and the better players usually wins that game.”

Florida first-year coach Billy Napier sidestepped the question when he was asked about the future of Georgia-Florida. “I want to experience the game first. 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 to both (sides).

“The home-and-home obviously would be fantastic, but there’s also some tradition there. There’s a rivalry there. Time will tell.”

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