MONDAY HUDDLE: Forget Kirby Smart. Florida-Georgia game should never leave Jacksonville

Tua returns in Dolphins’ win, Miami Central wins battle of prep unbeatens

FILE - Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, center, is greeted by his wife Mary Beth Smart, right, after a win over Florida in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene -- and a glimpse at what’s to come next week.

Florida-Georgia week arrives in Jacksonville

This summer at SEC Media Days, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart made some headlines when he said that Florida and Georgia should not play its annual showdown in Jacksonville, but on the respective campuses of the two schools. The same sentiment was expressed five years ago by ESPN analyst Lee Corso.

To explain this in a pun (sorry, we can’t resist), this is not a “Smart” idea for three reasons.

  • Money. This year, Florida and Georgia will each get $1.25 million for playing the game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. And that’s before gate revenues are accounted for. When that’s the case, it could be closer to $5 million. From the perspective of Jacksonville, the game brings in $35 million in economic impact. If everyone involved is making money, it’s hard to see how it’s not a win.
  • New recruiting rules. One of Smart’s biggest beefs was that giving up a home game every other year to play Florida in Jacksonville takes away a recruiting weekend for his squad. But this year, recruits for each school will be able to attend the game.
  • Tradition. The game has been played in Jacksonville since 1933, so it’s difficult to just say farewell to an annual ritual that so many Gator and Bulldog players, fans and alumni have been a part of for nearly a century. There’s something unique about the stadium being evenly split between orange and blue and black and red, and it shouldn’t be messed with.

Tua returns as Dolphins get back on winning track

For one night at least, all the talk about Tua Tagovaiola’s concussion situation took a backseat in what was a feel-good night for the Miami Dolphins against Pittsburgh.

Tagovaiola returned from the time missed due to concussions suffered against Buffalo and Cincinnati, was hot from the start and did enough at the end to lead the Dolphins to a 16-10 win over the Steelers on a night members of the unbeaten 1972 team were celebrated.

Tagovaiola finished 21-of-35 for 261 yards, although Miami’s 0 points in the second half will be a sore spot this week.

Still, a three-game losing streak was snapped and with Tagovaiola back healthy, things seem back on track for the Dolphins.

Miami Central holds off Columbus in battle of unbeatens

Arguably the best prep football matchup over the weekend took place when Miami Central, ranked No. 1 in the FHSAA poll, took on No. 3 Miami Columbus.

In the end, Central held on for a 42-35 win, but had to stave off a furious Columbus rally after Central took a 35-7 lead at halftime.

Keyone Jenkins, who has committed to Florida International, threw three touchdown passes while defensive end Rueben Bain, who holds 30 scholarship offers from prominent programs around the country, had two sacks for Central.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.