While UF, UGA Were Away .

By Frenette, Gene | The Florida Times Union, August 25, 1996 | Go to article overview

While UF, UGA Were Away .


Frenette, Gene, The Florida Times Union


No other sport embraces tradition like college football. What

would a game at Florida State be without the flaming spear, a

game at Ohio State without the dotting of the i, a game at

Colorado without Ralphie, a Florida-Georgia game without

Jacksonville?

Now our city knows. To ensure not losing the Florida-Georgia

game permanently, and as a tradeoff for acquiring an NFL team,

Jacksonville was forced to break 60 years of continuity. For the

past two seasons, while the Gator Bowl was renovated into a

state-of-the-art facility, the game that was once billed as "the

world's largest outdoor cocktail party" moved from the banks of

the St. Johns River to on-campus sites in Gainesville and Athens.

We didn't miss much in terms of drama. Florida's 52-14 and

52-17 victories were the worst back-to-back defeats Georgia

suffered to the same opponent since Tennessee routed the

Bulldogs in 1936-37 by a combined 78-0 margin. And Division I-A

football's re-entry into Jacksonville on New Year's Day, a 41-0

Syracuse rout of Clemson in the Gator Bowl, was a turnoff for

spectators and television viewers.

On Nov. 2, Florida and Georgia tee it up again in plusher digs

at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. There is no guarantee that

Georgia's new coach, Jim Donnan, will fare any better against

Steve Spurrier than its departed coach, Ray Goff. What matters

is that at least the tradition -- Florida-Georgia coming back to

Jacksonville -- has been restored.

However, the same can't be said for the rest of college football.

It underwent a significant metamorphosis while Florida-Georgia

temporarily moved out. And we still don't know if the changes

are for better, for worse, or even permanent. A sampling:

The Southwest Conference is history, with each school flocking

to leagues that were basically its economic equal. …

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