Former UGA-Florida QBs offer views on moving game

A tale of three quarterbacks ... one rivalry

Former Florida quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel and former Georgia quarterbacks Buck Belue and John Lastinger have similar views on one important question:

Should the annual Georgia-Florida football game be moved from Jacksonville?

DANNY WUERFFEL, 1993-96

• During my sophomore and junior years at Florida, the stadium in Jacksonville was being renovated for the Jaguars, and I had a unique opportunity — I played games in Gainesville and Athens.

Many of the details of the alternating home games have gotten lost in my mind with the dozens of other home and away games in which I had participated. The games that stand out, for lots of different reasons, were in Jacksonville.

The splitting of the stands evenly between Gators and Dawgs, the excitement of a neutral field, the enthusiasm of the fans as part of "the world's largest outdoor cocktail party" and the significance of the rivalry all combined to provide one of the most unique and memorable college football venues ever.

Why change that? I loved playing in the Florida-Georgia games in Jacksonville, and I love going back as a fan. Without any hesitation, I believe the Florida-Georgia game should stay in Jacksonville.

JOHN LASTINGER, 1980-83

• I'd be on the side that thinks the game should remain in Jacksonville. Obviously, most of my opinion was formed from 1980-1983 when I was playing. But I never felt like — and I think I can speak for my teammates — we were at a disadvantage by having to travel to Jacksonville back then.

Being from Valdosta, I learned in a hurry how important the game is to the South Georgia fan base. It is truly one of the great traditions in all of college football — and I think we should respect that and all that goes with it.

Certainly, the depth of parity in the SEC is far different today than it was in the early '80s. Every school in the conference fights for every scheduling advantage they can find. But in the end, how much does each school gain by moving it away from Jacksonville? In my opinion, not enough. So let it stay.

BUCK BELUE, 1978-81

• It's a college football tradition that dates back to 1915. It's been an annual thing since 1933. Along with the Texas-Oklahoma game, Georgia-Florida is the most unique setting in college football.

Count me among those who would hate to see it moved just because the Gators have owned the series the last 20 years. I don't buy that it's a home-field edge for Florida. The last time I checked that stadium was divided right down the middle, half Georgia and half Florida. And I'm not buying this stuff about the Gators having a travel edge with a bus ride over from Gainesville, either. What's the flight down from Athens? An hour?

I'll admit that now the playing career is over there are some selfish motives in play. The opportunity to get away and play some golf with buddies at TPC Sawgrass would be missed if the game occasionally moved to Atlanta. And it sure is nice to walk the beach, too. Sort of like a mini-vacation.

And come to think of it, this is a fans' game in Jacksonville. Friends and families have been gathering for decades in Jacksonville to see the 'Dogs and Gators go at it. And the game atmosphere for the players is second to none. It's special just like it is.

Move this game out of Jacksonville? That is unnacceptable. I haven't found a former teammate or a former Georgia player that wants to see the game moved.

Advantage Florida? Georgia has won two of the last five meetings. I guess I'm a traditionalist now. This game is supposed to be played in Jacksonville. Some of my most precious memories are there. "Run Lindsay Run" in 1980. I got a victory cigar from Erk [Russell] in the locker room after the game. The first Georgia-Florida game I ever got to see was 1978 as a freshman (mom and dad told me growing up in Valdosta this was a parents-only game — now I understand why).

I started and helped us win in blowout fashion in 1979. And in 1981, we got 'em 26-21 after a long, game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. That was 4-0, baby. Those Gators didn't seem to have any advantage then.

— Compiled by external content editor Tim Ellerbee