A New Home?
By: Kipp Branch
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
It was announced this week that the Georgia/Florida football game will remain in Jacksonville through the 2025 football season.
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party has been held in Jacksonville since 1933. The 1994 and 1995 contests were held in Gainesville and Athens due to Jacksonville being granted the Jaguars by the NFL in expansion. The old Gator Bowl was turned into what we now know as TIAA Bank Field.
Both universities released statements below regarding the agreement:
“We are pleased with the decision to exercise the option that will keep the game in Jacksonville for 2024 and 2025,” said UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks, via a release from Georgia.
“We look forward to discussions that I’m sure will continue over the next couple years exploring all the options for 2026 and beyond. We continue to be appreciative of the working relationship we have with the University of Florida and the City of Jacksonville.”
“The City of Jacksonville has been a historic host for one of the greatest rivalry games in all of college football,” Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said. “We are excited to have the game in Jacksonville for another two seasons.”
Where the game will be played beyond 2025 is still unknown. The City of Jacksonville recently announced that TIAA Bank Field will undergo major renovations in 2026 and 2027, which means the Jaguars will play their home games in another venue for those two seasons.
Do not panic Jaguars fans. You are not relocating to London.
Based on that the future beyond 2025 is up in the air. Florida is the designated home team in odd numbered years and will be the home team this season.
With this announcement we know officially that Georgia and Florida will be permanent opponents when the SEC expands in 2024 with the addition of Oklahoma and Texas.
It has pretty much been documented that that would be the case, but the new agreement cements that.
I’m a proponent of always keeping the UGA/UF game in Jacksonville. It is part of SEC tradition. There is a growing movement within the UGA fan base to move the game to a ‘home and home’.
I personally think it is driven by Atlanta metro area Dawg fans that don’t feel as strongly about the game staying in Jacksonville.
You see UGA fans in the Atlanta area can travel to Athens in usually under an hour on gameday, then go back home and sleep in their own beds at night after the contest.
You hear many in the Atlanta area say if not home and home then rotate between Jacksonville and Atlanta and let some of the revenue the game generates benefit the state of Georgia.
Well, the current location in Jacksonville benefits the Golden Isles of Georgia to the tune of $6-$8 million dollars annually for a 3-day weekend in late October. Atlanta already has the SEC Championship game.
South Georgia Dawg fans basically make a weekend of it in Athens for every home UGA game due to travel distance.
And many fans south of Macon are season ticket holders. Think about that for a second.
Economically the game in Jacksonville is a financial windfall for both schools. Playing the series home-and-home would net Florida and Georgia just $1.5 million annually according to The Gainesville Sun, a $3 million shortfall compared to playing in Jacksonville.
Each school would make about $3 million playing games at their respective stadiums, but that revenue would have to extend over a two-year period. Each school receives about $2.9 million dollars each annually by playing in Jacksonville.
Keep the game in Jacksonville. Kirby Smart is the king of college football currently. Recruiting rules can change if the king pushes that narrative so UGA can host recruits in Jacksonville.
There is no experience like the Cocktail Party in Jacksonville on the last weekend in October.
Due to stadium renovations, you could see the Gators in Athens in 2026.
Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch May 12
Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch April 21
Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch February 17
The Barn Sign
By: Steve Norris
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Ross Smith had seen enough…and decided to let the world know about it.
It was Saturday, October 28th, 2000. Smith’s beloved Georgia Bulldogs had just suffered another frustrating loss to Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators. It was the Dawgs’ 10th loss to the Gators in 11 games dating back to 1990, and Dawg fans were getting tired of it.
“We were angry that (Head Coach) Jim Donnan had decided to play Quincy Carter at quarterback over Cory Phillips.” Ross Smith, cousins and friends wanted people to know about it.
The week before, Carter was out due to injury, so Cory Phillips stepped in and led the Dawgs to a road victory over the Kentucky Wildcats, throwing for 400 yards and four touchdown passes.
“We thought for sure that Phillips had earned the chance to play against Florida,” said Smith. “Instead, Donnan went with Carter, who went out and threw three interceptions and looked horrible in yet another loss (to Florida).”
And that’s how The Barn Sign was born.
That night, Smith bought some red, white, and black paint and brought the dilapidated former corner store to life with its first message to Dawg fans everywhere: “TO HELL WITH CARTER…PHILLIPS FOR PRESIDENT”
“It was an election year, so going with “President” made sense to me,” said Smith.
The “barn” doesn’t actually belong to Smith. It is owned by his first cousins, James and Jonathan Hitchcock, who live on and operate the farm across the street.
It was originally a corner store from the mid-50’s to the late 70’s, according to Smith.
“There was a family that ran it and lived in a small room on the side of the building,” said Smith. “I’m not sure how they did it all those years. The room they lived in wasn’t as big as my truck and there’s never been any running water.”
After the first message in 2000, Smith began changing the sign a few times a year.
“I would change it at the end of the season, on National Signing Day (which was in February then), two weeks before the season to get Dawg fans pumped up, and then after the Florida game.
If we lost the Florida game, I would put up a message ribbing Gator fans, and if we’d won, I’d just put up the score. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to put the score up very much the first ten years or so,” Smith said laughingly.
Around 2010, the building began to rot in some places due to water leaks when it rained. Smith came home from a trip one day and noticed the building was leaning badly. “I just figured that was it. I was done painting The Barn Sign,” said Smith.
What he didn’t realize was how popular the sign had truly become. “People were sending me messages on Facebook asking me when I was going to fix the sign and paint it again,” said Smith. “I was fresh out of college and didn’t have a lot of money. I told the fans that if they wanted the sign back up, I needed them to donate money to help me pay for it.
I figured I needed around $1500 to make repairs, so I set up a PayPal account and raised $1700 in ten days. In fact, I had to turn the account off because money was coming in so fast.” Smith said.
Once the sign was repaired, its popularity began to grow exponentially. Smith has been interviewed by ESPN along with other large newspapers.
The Barn Sign Facebook page is approaching 55,000 “likes” while Smith’s daily page posts attract a lot of traffic.
Even while I was interviewing Smith in front of the sign, located on Highway 15 between Tennille and Wrightsville, around 15-20 people parked on the highway next to the sign to get a glimpse and take pictures in front of the iconic building. Of course, the current sign has a lot to do with that. Today it reads:
21-22 BACK-TO-BACK NATIONAL CHAMPIONS.
For Smith and all Georgia fans, it’s truly the best message ever and a “sign” that like Georgia football, The Barn Sign has a lot of great years ahead of it.
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
The 2022 College Football season is in the books. Kirby Smart and UGA have won back-to-back National Titles. My annual SEC Football stock report is upon us again.
Georgia: The best college football stock on the planet. CEO Kirby Smart has developed a winning organizational culture.
401K plan is the best in the business, and the best employees are recruited year in and year out.
The executive management team is the best in the business and well compensated.
This organization is built for any market and will flourish even during down economic times. Blue blood stock that will make you tons of money. The long-term future of this stock is through the roof. Advice: Buy it all.
Alabama: Over a 10-year period this stock has been the most consistent producer of wealth.
CEO Nick Saban is still the king of CEO’s.
Maybe the stock dipped slightly in 2022, but the long-term future is bright.
Top rated employer with the most talented work force make this stock very attractive.
The CEO training program is the best I the country. The executive management team has become a little complacent over the past 12 months and that has been addressed by the CEO.
This stock will always make you a ton of money. Advice: Buy as much as you can.
Tennessee: This historically producing stock crashed over the past 15 years.
However, in 2022 this stock hit a 20-year high. CEO Josh Huepel has been a breath of fresh air after a string of poor CEO’s dating back to 2008.
If you held on to this stock during the bleak years, then you are a wise investor. This stock will continue to rise to get back to the glory years of the Clinton Presidency.
When the Big Orange stock is producing the SEC portfolio is second to none. Advice: Buy
LSU: After reaching an all-time high in 2019 this blue blood stock crashed over the past two years prompting the board of directors to hire a new CEO in Brian Kelly for 2022.
The early returns have been great. Stock has performed much better than expected.
Changes were made in the human resources department resulting in an influx of topflight employees for 2023 and beyond.
This corporation has invested properly for long-term growth once again. Advice: Buy
Mississippi State: This stock made a huge turnaround over the past 24 months. The tragic loss of beloved CEO Mike Leach has made things difficult over the past month.
Leach leaves behind a great foundation that is positioned for continued growth, and his legacy will live on. Rest easy Pirate. Advice: Buy
South Carolina: This stock made a remarkable turnaround late in calendar year 2022 and recovered from some tough early losses by performing well against superior brands Tennessee and Clemson.
Energetic CEO in Shane Beamer has the stockholders optimistic but not totally convinced to invest great sums of money.
This corporation has excited its stockholders before, and returns have not matched investment. Watch this stock closely in 2023. Advice: Hold for now.
Ole Miss: Aggressive CEO Kiffin takes too many chances and this has become a roller-coaster stock. Exciting to watch but for investors nerve-wracking. This is a high anxiety stock. Advice: Hold and never become emotionally invested in stock.
Florida: This stock should be a solid producer. New CEO Billy Napier inherited a horrible organizational culture.
Mass firings have taken place. Lazy employees have bailed for the transfer portal employment agency.
It will take some time to fix this mess. 401K plan is depleted and new hires are backing out causing this once proud organization to take massive public relations hits.
Advice: Sell it all until the board of directors allows CEO Napier to completely blow up this rotten culture.
Auburn, Texas A&M, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Vanderbilt: These poorly run or non-productive organizations are not worth the ink to write about.
Advice: Sell them off quickly. Watch Auburn and Texas A&M for future reinvestment.
Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch January 10
By: Kipp Branch
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
This has been an interesting college football season to say the least in the SEC.
Below are my bowl grades for each team. Auburn, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt did not qualify for a bowl game in 2022. Auburn fired their head coach, and A&M is the biggest disappointment in college football currently.
Current Record: 6-5 (East: 2-4, West: 4-1)
Las Vegas Bowl: Florida got blown out by Oregon State 30-3. Florida holds the longest streak in college football of consecutive games of not being shut out that dates back to 1988.
When it mattered the most the Gators drove the field with little time remaining and kicked a 40+ yard field goal to keep that streak intact.
Florida was a pathetic team in 2022, finishing the season with a 6-7 record for the second consecutive year. Bowl Grade: F-
Gasparilla Bowl: Missouri went to Tampa and got beat 27-17 by Wake Forest. Did anyone watch? Not many did.
A bowl loss to the ACC gives the Tigers a low grade. Bowl Grade: D
Liberty Bowl: One of the most exciting games of the bowl season.
Arkansas with their horrendous defense, blew a huge second half lead against Kansas and then pulled it out 55-53 in triple OT.
This game film will not be shown at coaching clinics that focus on defense. Arkansas finishes 7-6 on the season. Exciting finish. Bowl Grade: B
Texas Bowl: Ole Miss lost to Texas Tech 42-25 in this contest.
Lane Kiffin and his ‘going for it on 4th down’ antics from anywhere on the field perhaps cost Ole Miss this football game.
The Rebels should have beaten Texas Tech but, instead, continued the late season nose dive for Ole Miss. Ole Miss sat at 7-1 on the season going into the Alabama game on November 12th. Ole Miss finished the season at 8-5. Bowl Grade: D
Gator Bowl: South Carolina lost to Notre Dame in an exciting game 45-38.
Both teams acted like they wanted to be there. Carolina finished at 8-5
Bowl Grade: B+.
Orange Bowl: Tennessee finished the season with 11 wins for the first time since 2001 by beating an overrated Clemson team 31-14.
Clemson, under Dabo Swinney, is starting the decline from elite status to coming back to the pack. Tennessee dominated the ACC champs. Bowl grade: B
Sugar Bowl: Alabama missed the college football playoffs, landed in New Orleans, and beat Kansas State 45-20.
Bryce Young did not win a Natty at Alabama is the huge story here. Bowl grade: C
Music City Bowl: Kentucky got shut out in Nashville 21-0 by Iowa and for their crappy showing the Wildcats receive an F as a Bowl grade.
Reliaquest Bowl: The Mississippi State Bulldogs, in memory of Mike Leach receive an A+ from this writer for beating Illinois 19-10. Rest easy Pirate.
Citrus Bowl: LSU curb stomped Purdue 63-7. For doing their job LSU receives an A for their bowl game grade. Florida, Ole Miss, and Missouri take notes on how to take care of business.
Peach Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal):
Georgia took down Ohio State 42-41 in an instant classic.
Dawgs trailed 38-24 in the 4th quarter and Stetson Bennett led UGA on the largest comeback in CFP history.
OSU hooked a 50-yard game winner and 2023 rang in. 1000 yards of total offense. Jacked up crowd and the finish you want in a playoff game makes this one a classic.
Bowl grade: A+++
Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch January 6