Vivlamore’s Buzz: Georgia-Florida comes down to revenue vs. recruiting

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart takes the stage for his press conference at SEC Media Days with 2021 National Champions flashing on the screen in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta.   (Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Combined ShapeCaption
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart takes the stage for his press conference at SEC Media Days with 2021 National Champions flashing on the screen in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sports Editor Chris Vivlamore is filling in for Mark Bradley this week.

Revenue vs. Recruiting

I’m intrigued by the on-going debate on whether the Georgia-Florida football game should remain at the neutral site in Jacksonville. The story comes up every year. This year, it seemed to come up even earlier with SEC Media Days in Atlanta last week.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart again made his stance clear that he’d like the game to become a home-and-home series for recruiting purposes.

“It’s an opportunity for us to bring these kids that fly in from all over the country,” Smart said last week. “What game do they want to come see Georgia play? They’d like to see Georgia play Florida. They can’t do that. It’s very important. Recruiting is very important. I just can’t get a Florida coach to agree with me about it.”

So, will Smart get his way – again?

The coach has gotten everything he has wanted in his six years at the helm of Georgia. To the tune of $175 million in facility upgrades alone.

*Indoor practice facility, $31 million. Check.

*Sanford Stadium west-end expansion, $63 million. Check.

*Football operations facility, $80 million. Check.

*New Sanford Stadium lights, $1 million. Check.

Of course, some will note:

*National Championship, Priceless. Check.

The Georgia-Florida game comes down to money. As our Chip Towers noted Wednesday, over a 10-year contract, Georgia will make $45 million with the game in Jacksonville and just $19 million if it became a home-and-home series. Chip also noted that Georgia’s average national recruiting ranking of its past six classes is 2.3, with two No. 1 finishes, so it’s not like recruiting has been lacking. And Georgia is coming off that national title.

With a 10-year, $112.5 million contract just given to Smart, maybe the economics will win out.

By the way, in a poll that appeared with Chip’s story on whether the game will remain in Florida, 50% of respondents voted to stay in Jacksonville, 27% wanted a home-and-home and the remaining 23% were split between a three-city rotation and Atlanta as a new neutral site.

***

Where is Josef?

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta United attacker Josef Martinez started the game on the bench against Orlando City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, July 17, 2022.

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Atlanta United attacker Josef Martinez started the game on the bench against Orlando City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, July 17, 2022.

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta United attacker Josef Martinez started the game on the bench against Orlando City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, July 17, 2022.

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Look, I’m no soccer expert (despite the two varsity goals to my credit some years ago). However, I find the reasoning by Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda of not starting Josef Martinez the past three games odd. At some point, with the playoffs in danger, don’t you have to let the man who put the franchise on the map in the starting 11? Martinez only has 94 career goals. Pineda says he doesn’t need heroes, he needs warriors. It appears Martinez’s post-game comments on July 9th calling out the team makes him more hero than warrior. Perhaps Pineda believes Martinez is not the same player following the difficult knee issues. From my untrained eye, Martinez has created scoring chances when he has subbed in late in games. Either way, time is running out.

Atlanta United sits in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with 24 points heading into Saturday’s game at Chicago. They lead only Toronto (22 points) and D.C. (18). Cincinnati (28) holds the seventh and final playoff position. Despite the four-point difference between Cincinnati and Atlanta United, four other teams sit in between – Charlotte, Chicago, New England and Miami.

***

Soto on his way out of D.C.

Combined ShapeCaption
Washington Nationals' Juan Soto reacts after walking for the second time against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third inning during a baseball game, Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Credit: Rick Scuteri

Washington Nationals' Juan Soto reacts after walking for the second time against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third inning during a baseball game, Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Credit: Rick Scuteri

Combined ShapeCaption
Washington Nationals' Juan Soto reacts after walking for the second time against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third inning during a baseball game, Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Credit: Rick Scuteri

Credit: Rick Scuteri

The Nationals’ Juan Soto is on the trading block after turning down the team’s 15-year contract offer worth a total of $440 million. That’s an average salary of $29.3 million for the 23-year-old star. According to my research, that would be the 15th highest yearly salary for a player this season. It would trail Max Scherzer ($43.3 million), Gerrit Cole ($36 million), Mike Trout ($35.5 million), Carlos Correa ($35.1 million), Stephen Strasburg ($35 million), Anthony Rendon ($35 million), Francisco Lindor ($34.1 million), Trevor Bauer ($34 million), Corey Seager ($32.5 million), Nolan Arenado ($32.5 million), Miguel Cabrera ($31 million), David Price ($31 million), Mookie Betts ($30.4 million) and Manny Machado ($30 million).

Soto might have a point.

Don’t tell Ronald Acuña. He signed an eight-year extension worth $100 million contract in 2019. His average salary is $12.5 million over the length of the contract. He will make $15 million this season.

***

Thank you for reading

Thanks to all who took the time to read the last two newsletters. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Mark Bradley.