The Florida-Georgia football game will remain in Jacksonville at least through the 2021 football season after a 5-year extension was signed that will keep the game at EverBank Field. Under the new agreement, both teams will be paid $125,000 each in 2017 and $250,000 for 2018-21.
With the exception of 1994 (Gainesville) and 1995 (Athens) when the old Gator Bowl was being torn down for the new stadium, which houses the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars, the game has been played in Jacksonville since 1933. Because tickets for the game are split right down the middle – the same is true for the stadium – it creates a unique atmosphere that is one of college football’s great traditions. There are few sights quite like seeing an 82,000-seat stadium where one-half is orange and blue and the other half red and black.
The game has a huge economic impact on the city of Jacksonville, which estimates it got a $35 million economic boost from the 2015 contest.
In recent years, there have been widespread complaints from Georgia fans that the game should either go home-and-home or alternate neutral sites between Atlanta and Jacksonville. Georgia AD Greg Magarity, formerly Jeremy Foley’s right hand man at UF, however, has remained committed to keeping the game in Jacksonville, as has Foley.
"We are excited to continue the tradition of playing the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville," Foley said in a statement. "As I've said a number of times over the years, the game belongs in Jacksonville. Thanks to the hard work and cooperation from the city of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Jaguars and our counterparts at Georgia, it will continue to be in Jacksonville."
UF SPRING FOOTBALL NOTES
* Sophomore CeCe Jefferson seems to be following in the footsteps of Jonathan Bullard. Even though Bullard never had ideal size for playing DT, he was so athletic and quick that he compensated and became a hybrid D-lineman who was equally comfortable on the inside or outside. Jefferson is 6-1, 270, which isn’t ideal for playing inside but he’s quick and athletic like Bullard and could move up and down the D-line where he has the skills to be disruptive.
* DB Nick Washington solved a Rubik’s Cube in 30 seconds.
* Austin Appleby has a strong arm and is a bright kid, but it’s going to take him awhile to get used to an offense where he is expected to throw more than a 2-yard pass. He’s all too quick to look to the dump off receiver instead of hanging in the pocket. That could have everything to do with the fact at Purdue he worked behind a bad offensive line and lacked any speed at the receiver position. In his final two years at Purdue, Appleby averaged 5.3 per attempt (2014) and 6.1 (2015).
* #1 QB Luke Del Rio showed Tuesday that he’s comfortable standing in the pocket and throwing the ball down the field.
GATORS FACE OHIO STATE SUNDAY AT NOON
Now that they’ve made it past North Florida in the first round of the NIT, the Gators (20-14) hit the road to Columbus for a round two game with Ohio State (21-13) Sunday at noon. The game might seem like a mirror image of Florida practices because the Buckeyes are also challenged offensively. On the season they’re hitting only 33.6% from the 3-point line and 67.9% from the foul line. Florida, on the other hand, is hitting 32% from the 3-point line (even with a 16-32 effort against UNF) and 64.3% from the foul line. The Buckeyes score 70 points per game and give up 68 while the Gators average 73.6 and give up 68.6.
BARNHILL DOMINATES WINTHROP WITH 18 STRIKEOUTS
Freshman Kelly Barnhill pitched a 2-hitter and struck out 18 to tie the school single game record as Florida’s #1-ranked softball team ran its record to 27-1 with a 7-0 win over Winthrop in a non-conference game at Katie Seashole Presley Stadium Wednesday night. Barnhill (9-0) was supported by a 13-hit attack led by Kelsey Stewart and Kayli Kvistad, who each pounded out three hits and Nicole DeWitt, whose 2-3 evening included a 2-run double.
Next up for the Gators is a 3-game SEC series at home against Tennessee starting on Friday.
THIS IS A RULES CHANGE I WOULD SUPPORT
Back in the 1980s, when the trend of extending basketball games with fouls became a novel concept, the late, great Dean Smith made a great suggestion: Give the fouled team the option of sending its player to the line to shoot free throws or a fresh shot clock and the ball out of bounds. This would eliminate the old hack-a-Shaq strategy of fouling the worst free throw shooter over and over again. Since the zebras won’t call intentional fouls – which result in two free throws and the ball – and that games seem to go on forever, changing the rules makes a lot of sense. I would love to see the Dean Smith option implemented.
SPRING FOOTBALL NEWS FROM AROUND THE SEC
Alabama: Dual threat QB Tua Tagovailoa (6-0, 215, Honolulu, Hawaii St. Louis) says what impresses him the most about Nick Saban is “God first.” Speaking on Twitter, Tagovailoa said, “Coach Saban has talked to us and his beliefs are God first before anything.” … Jake Coker, who was Alabama’s QB last season, says he played all of last season with a broken toe.
Arkansas: Tight end Hunter Henry impressed the NFL scouts at Pro Day by running a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash.
Auburn: DE Carl Lawson says he’s back to 100% health. After suffering an ACL in 2014, he suffered minor fracture in his hip, which limited Lawson to six games in 2015 in which he was in on 13 tackles with zero sacks.
Georgia: Fourth-year junior tailback A.J. Turman is transferring out. The remaining tailbacks on the roster are Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Brendan Douglas and Tae Crowder. Elijah Holyfield will enroll in the summer … If you think recruiting is out of hand then consider Georgia is hosting a Freshman Day on Saturday.
Kentucky: As expected Drew Barker took the #1 snaps at QB with juco transfer Stephen Johnson II taking the #2.
LSU: LSU offensive and defensive coordinators Cam Cameron and Dave Aranda will make $1.2 million this year. D-Line coach/recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron will be paid $600,000 while O-line coach Jeff Grimes will be paid $550,000. Wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig will be paid $550,000 ... MLB Kendell Beckwith (knee) says he’s fine and will be back on the practice field any day now.
Mississippi State: Will Muschamp calls the hybrid DE/LB the “buck” position. At Mississippi State, new DC Peter Sirmon calls it “the viper.” Will Coleman, Traver Jung and Anfernee Mullins are Mississippi State’s vipers this spring.
Missouri: The new director of football operations is Mike McHugh, who was the director of football ops under Larry Smith back in the 1990s ... Nate Brown, who played in the slot last year, has moved to an outside receiver position.
Ole Miss: Akeem Judd and Jordan Wilkins are running 1-2 at running back where they are trying to replace Jaylen Walton, who ran for 730 yards and 5 TDs last year. Last year Judd and Wilkins combined for 800 yards and 7 TDs.
South Carolina: They are raving in Columbia about former UF strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman. “He’s just trying to push everyone to the limit,” linebacker T.J. Holloman said. “Trying to weed out the weak; strong had to survive these workouts.”?
Tennessee: Redshirt freshman Drew Richmond has been impressive at LT where he is hoping to replace the departed Kyler Kerbyson.
NCAA FIRST FOU
In a battle of #16 seeds, Holy Cross (15-19) knocked off Southern University (22-13), 59-55, to earn the right to face #1 West Region Seed Oregon on Friday. In the other play-in game, Michigan (23-12) eliminated Tulsa (20-12), 67-62, in a battle of #11 seeds. Michigan will play #6 seed Notre Dame (21-11) Friday in the East Regional.
Georgia (20-13) got 33 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists from Yante Maten in its first round win over Belmont (20-12). Georgia hit 11-21 from the 3-point line
A lot of folks screamed when St. Bonaventure was left out of the NCAA field. They shouldn’t have. The Bonnies (22-9) were whacked by Wagner (23-10), 79-75, Wednesday evening.
In other games, Monmouth (28-7) moved to the second round with a 90-80 win over Bucknell (17-14); George Washington (24-10) beat Hofstra (24-10), 82-80; Virginia Tech (20-14) held off Princeton (22-7), 86-81, in overtime; and Georgia Tech (20-14) upended Houston (22-10), 81-62.
COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY, HOOPS VERSION (UPDATE)
Joining the extinct species list:
Bill Donlon, Wright State
Eric Reveno, Portland
Is it just my imagination or does what passes for sports media this day have a collective I’ll bear your love child crush on Georgia coach Kirby Smart? Sure, he was Nick Saban’s DC, but do you for one second believe Kirby Smart was the brains behind the defense? Or was it Nick? Now Smart could turn out to be – pardon me for actually saying this – the smart choice to take Georgia to championship levels never achieved by the departed Mark Richt, but he could also prove to be the ultimate bust. I’m not predicting one way or the other, but I will say I won’t be the least bit surprised if Smart isn’t nearly as successful as Richt.
Former Gator Will Hill was released by the Baltimore Ravens after getting a 10-game suspension from the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Urban Meyer is taking a page out of Jim Harbaugh’s playbook with plans to hold some of Ohio State’s spring practices in Florida next year. Just a guess on my part, but I expect the NCAA will squash all future spring practices scheduled in another state before this gets out of hand.
Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated predicts North Carolina will be the first #1 seed to lose in the NCAA Tournament, which gets going full speed today. Perhaps Davis is making an informed and unbiased choice, but he’s a Duke graduate so consider me skeptical. North Carolina is in the toughest region (East) but I do believe the Tar Heels have the talent and the guards to get past both Kentucky and West Virginia to make it to the Final Four. As for the rest of the Final Four, I like Kansas out of the South, Michigan State out of the Midwest and I’m going with the Aggies as a longshot to win the West. I think this year Kansas will cut down the nets.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Do you favor the Florida-Georgia game staying in Jacksonville or do you think this tradition that has seen its better days and should be changed to home-and-home?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
In his classic “Miss You So Badly,” Jimmy Buffett croons, “I’ve got a head full of feeling higher and an ear full of Patsy Cline; There is no one who can touch her; Hell, I hang on every line.” I heard that today and that made my break out an old Patsy Cline CD. Jimmy is right. More than 50 years since she died and there is still no one who can touch her. Today’s music is a compilation of Patsy Cline’s greatest. If “Crazy” (third track) and “I’d Fall to Pieces” don’t stir you, then you have no heart.