If there was ever a debate that fit my persona, this is it. Don’t you agree? My name is Loyal Homer, and I want the games in my home stadium!!! Duh!
Georgia and Florida battle it out in Jacksonville, and major SEC East implications, if not national title implications, are on the table almost every year. The same goes for The Red River Shootout (excuse me, the Red River Rivalry) between Oklahoma and Texas. Increasingly each year, Georgia (possibly because they have lost 16 of the past 19 to the Gators at a “neutral” site) has suggested they would not mind having the game rotating between Athens and Gainesville, just like any other conference game. As a true “Homer” this is the best option to me.
College football is meant to be played on a college campus or at a university’s home stadium. It is not meant to be played at a neutral site. This is not the Super Bowl! Often times, these games have major implications, both nationally and within the conference.
College football is a huge revenue machine not only for the university. Each team represents the city, and often times a small community. Yes, there are some universities – like USC and UCLA – that are located in or around big cities. But, often time’s universities are located in smaller towns. Schools are the bread and butter of what makes these towns relevant. Would anyone know anything about Stillwater, Oklahoma if it weren’t for Oklahoma State? How about Athens, Georgia (University of Georgia)? Gainesville, Florida (University of Florida)? Corvallis, Oregon (Oregon State)? Lubbock, Texas (Texas Tech)? The list goes on and on. These towns somewhat shut down when their teams are playing on Saturdays in the fall in their town. If you are not at the game, you are at a local sports bar watching the game or you are grilling out at a friend’s house with the game on the big screen (just typing this makes me ready for Opening Week!!!!!!!!)
After the game many fans go out to eat with the family to celebrate the big victory. Maybe a group of buddies heads over to High Street after an Ohio State game to discuss the game and have a cold beer. It is that “hometown” feel that you do not necessarily get when playing in a foreign city at a neutral site.
A home site also gives each team a better chance to win, at least every other year. I am not convinced that Florida has a better chance to win the World’s Largest Cocktail Party just because it doesnot have to travel as far. Both teams sleep in foreign beds the night before the same game. I am similarly not convinced Texas has a better chance to defeat Oklahoma just because Austin is closer to Dallas than Norman. What playing at home does do, however, is give each team a significant advantage every other year. When Florida travels to Athens, Georgia has the advantage. Conversely, when Georgia traveled to Gainesville, the Gators have the advantage.
The point is that each team deserves to play in front of its home fans AT home for every home game. Home truly is where the heart is. And the heart of each college football team is at HOME! The hometown deserves it. The hometown needs it. And most especially, Loyal Homer wants it!