Playing On The Neutral Ground

Watching the Alabama - FSU game Saturday, I had two thoughts; if an asteroid would ever strike earth, I hope it hits Jacksonville right now. And why does FSU play in so many neutral site games? In part, it's to keep alive a tradition of playing anyone at anytime, anywhere.

"We try to schedule intelligently but also continue to schedule in the way the program was built, and that is with really attractive intersectional games when it makes sense," [FSU director of athletics Dave] Hart said.

Unlike Florida, FSU plays in the world's ugliest erector set/office building. So maybe that has led to FSU playing in Jacksonville, Orlando, and Atlanta for future games. But, they risk losing money by removing a home game and splitting income with an opponent, yet they are spreading their name around the country. So, why can't UF do this?

This of course, is just an idea, along the lines of a college football playoff and a Gator men's soccer team. Maybe now that we'll be going to BCS bowls and not games named after restaurants, the UAA can afford to lose one home game.

Team: Rutgers
Venues: Giants Stadium and Dolphin Stadium.
Reasoning: The huge UF alumni population in New York City would have a local game, plus it's a showcase for UF and could attract recruits from the Northeast. In the second game of the series, it will be a chance for Rutgers to attract Miami kids. Again, UF alumni get to see the team as well as Northeastern transplants.

Team: Navy
Venues: FedEx Field and Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
Reasoning: FedEx Field seats about 90,000 so there are plenty of seats to go around, and the game will attract Virginia recruits. Jacksonville seats 80,000 for UF games and there is the huge Naval population there. This would also be the first UF-Navy games ever played.

Team: Georgia Tech
Venues: Georgia Dome and Raymond James Stadium.
Reasoning: This might be difficult to pull off since you're convincing Georgia Tech to play across town to attract UF alums and recruits. However, for the second game, Tampa is lovely this time of year. And Jim Leavitt has shown that there are plenty of under-recruited kids in the area. Also, Georgia Tech was an old member of the SEC and it would restore an ancient rivalry. UF has played more games against the Rambling Wreck (38) than Bama (32) and Tennessee (36).

Team: Notre Dame
Venues: Soldier Field and the Citrus Bowl.
Reasoning: Notre Dame is willing to play at the Citrus Bowl, but on their terms. UF should go to them with this plan and see if they chicken out. If ND wants to play in a crumbling stadium in Orlando, they shouldn't be afraid to play in their own backyard. Split both games 50/50. UF gets to show off in front of the talent in the Chicagoland, then run over the Irish at Disney.

You could also look at a Texas team matching up with UF and play games in Dallas and Jacksonville. And I'd like to see a game in New Orleans against the 1934 SEC Champion Tulane Green Wave. The least we can do is try for these matchups instead of more games against state schools. Who benefits from us playing Miami or USF? They do.

I think it makes sense to have four home-and-home series over a 10-12 year span. The risk of losing is much higher in New Jersey or Atlanta than against Western Kentucky in Gainesville. But, we also have to realize that the Florida Gators are becoming a national brand name. We got to be good salesmen and spread the word around the nation.

I realize I wrote a lot about something that has nothing to do with Saturday's game. But, I promise I'm still focused on LSU. Look at the title of the article. `Neutral ground' is what they call medians in New Orleans, which is in Louisiana, which is where the Gators play Saturday. See, I'm ready.

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