Muschamp Wants ‘The Game' in Jax

There may be no better person to understand both sides of the argument for the annual rivalry football game and where it is played every year. Will Muschamp has a very unique perspective. When Georgia and Florida tee it off in late October in Jacksonville there will be a winner and a loser and lately the Bulldogs have done more of the latter. Muschamp, a former Dawg turned Gator, wants it to stay.

Will Muschamp talked to a vocal and excited crowd of about 300 on Friday in a town that is pretty split up with Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, and Florida State Seminoles. The Gators head coach who used to play for the Bulldogs was able to get the crowd revved up a few times in his hour long speech and question and answer session.

Beforehand, Muschamp talked to the media and mentioned a little bit about why he thinks it is important to get out in front of the people like the ones in Jacksonville and make them understand what he feels about his position as the lead Gator.

"That's part of my job," he told the press just before going on stage. "When you take the job as a head football coach at the University of Florida, you wear a lot of hats. Part of my job is getting out and seeing the Gator Nation and seeing these people and understand the passion and support they have."

Muschamp talked about the home field advantage that the Gators possess when opponents come to play in The Swamp in Gainesville. That advantage comes directly from the people he is meeting and greeting on this tour.

"I appreciate that and appreciate walking into that stadium and it being an intimidating place to play. It should be that way and I think you have to do your due diligence as the coach to get out and see these people and I think that is important."

Still, Muschamp understands both sides of the coin when it comes to the big rivalry game played in Jacksonville. The game has been played in Jacksonville all but two times since 1933. World War II saw a one year hiatus in the series while in 1994 and 1995, the two schools alternated hosting the game while a new stadium in Jacksonville was built to house the new NFL franchise jaguars.

Georgia holds a 46-40-2 series lead overall with Florida. In the early years of Jacksonville hosting the game from 1933-1989, Georgia ran off a 35-20-1 record in the First Coast city. It wasn't a problem with the Bulldog faithful at that point.

Starting in 1990, the Gators have run off an 18-3 record on Georgia and 16 of those games were played in Jacksonville. The overall record between the two programs played in Jacksonville gives Georgia a two game lead at 38-36-1.

The fans are split 50-50 as far as ticket sales and designated seating areas are split on each 50 yard line. The game has no extra benefits for either team and both are paid the same amount of money from the city of Jacksonville for being able to host the game.

It's that 3-16 record since 1990 that has the Bulldogs reeling and crying foul. Muschamp has already played a part in that going 0-4 against the Gators when he played for Georgia from 1991-1994. He also spent the better part of his childhood rooting for Florida and attending some of the games played in Jacksonville. He gets both sides and wants the game to stay.

"There is no environment like it, playing in this stadium," he said. "Growing up in Gainesville, my mom and dad came to this game. I can remember coming over as a young man. I can remember coming over as a player and obviously there is a certain buzz at practice and you feel it."
>br> "I am for it. You go back through the history of the game and it is a lot of fun."

Speaking to the Jacksonville crowd that really wanted to hear his side of it and just what he thought about the game being in Jacksonville, Muschamp looked up from the podium and smiled when he responded with a statement boasting the city's bowl game name.

"I don't have any problems with it," he said. "It is an interesting dynamic, this is the ‘Gator Bowl' and they call it that for a reason."

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