ATHENS, Ga. - Some still call it the world's biggest cocktail party, others call it one of football's fiercest rivalries. Either way, the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators are set to lock horns again Saturday in Jacksonville.
It's said Jacksonville is neutral territory, but some believe it's more like a Florida home game.
FOX 5 Storm Team Chief meteorologist David Chandley has a unique perspective on this game. He had a sideline view of the dawgs 1980 national title run and knows former Dawgs Coach Vince Dooley well. He sat down with Coach Dooley about any Jacksonville advantage Florida may have and why he thinks that may not last.
Every year the Dawgs have to travel down to Jacksonville and while hosting the Gators in Athens would be nice, there is something special about Jacksonville and this game.
“That game was big for the group I had, we never thought about going down to Florida. We just thought Jacksonville was just an extension of South Georgia,” said Dooley.
Since 1933, the Dawgs and Gators have battled every year in Jacksonville, except for two years in the 90s when the stadium was under construction. Vince Dooley made 25 trips to Jacksonville as a coach, 15 more as Athletic Director. He remembered in the early days Jacksonville was not really a neutral site.
“It was so unequal at that particular time. All of the 50-yard line seats Florida had. We had end zone seats. We finally balanced that up, and then you would go to the game and the ticket takers all had Florida hats on, so we had to balance that up. And then it was always the Florida-Georgia game, so every other year it’s the Georgia-Florida game, so there was a lot of things that we got balanced and we got compensated, finally, for the fact that we had to take an airplane down there, a charter to get down there,” said Dooley.
While many Dawg fans welcome the trek south each year, Dooley said he could see one day a shift in the tradition.
“It’s always that question ‘Should we go home and home?’ And it’s a legitimate question,” said Dooley. “And should be addressed whenever the contract is up for renewal because there is a lot to be said for going home and home for sure.”
But for now, new memories waiting in Jacksonville and Dooley said he's excited for these Dawgs to soak in the bowl game-like environment.
“You could even hear the roar of the crowd before you even get there. So, the players coming in on the bus, and I as a coach, the adrenaline really flowed and it flows down there and that is what makes the game so special,” said Dolley.
The game kicks off 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Jacksonville.