The Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators are doing themselves an incredible disservice by turning down their option to invite recruits to their neutral site showdowns in Jacksonville, Fla.
The SEC has amended their rules to allow the home team to give tickets to recruits for neutral site games, but according to Michael Carvell of ajc.com, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity and Florida AD Jeremy Foley have agreed to not allow recruits at the game. Here's McGarity's explanation, via Carvell's report:
“I think the NCAA rules come into play on the decision that both institutions have agreed up because you cannot have any contact with any recruits … none of our football coaches or recruiting staff (because the game is at an off-campus location),” McGarity said this week.
“In essence, the only thing you would be able to do is have a ticket office staff member provide the recruit with a ticket to the game. My decision is based on the same theory, same justifications, and same reasons that we’ve had all along.”
This is a horrible move by both programs, and it's a decision that fans should be extremely upset about, even though it was apparently made for their convenience.
The main reasoning behind this seems to be that, because of NCAA rules, even if the home team was to give a recruit tickets, they wouldn't be able to have contact with them because of the neutral site. The fear seems to be that recruits would essentially just be taking the very good tickets of fans or even boosters. The kicker here is, how much more upset will the fans be when their school has an opportunity to sway a big time recruit from the other state, but they lose out because they neglected to invite him to one of the biggest games of the year?
For instance, five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil has both Florida and Georgia high on his interest list. Georgia would be gaining a huge advantage in the recruiting process by having him as its guest at this game, considering he's from Lake City, Fla., but they are turning that down?
There are no other opportunities that allow a program to go into a different stadium or region and still be able to host recruits. This could be a pivotal moment in the recruiting process, but it appears as if both schools are going to neglect it because of technicalities.
Even if they can't talk to the recruits, the advantages of being the host of such a big yearly neutral site matchup are immeasurable.
This is one of the biggest games on the schedule every single year in college football, and this year is bound to be and epic. Florida comes into the matchup at 7-0 while Georgia is 6-1, so from a football standpoint this game is going to be huge. It's also a sight to behold from an atmosphere standpoint though, as this rivalry is one of the best in sports, and the game day feel of Florida vs. Georgia is always intense.
Apparently this is not an experience either school feels top recruits should be a part of, though. This is a logistical decision that is going to end up hurting both schools from a recruiting standpoint.
Considering the very nature of recruiting and it's importance to a program, this is an extremely bad decision.