- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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At last week's SEC spring meetings, the league eliminated the rule preventing its football programs from hosting recruits at neutral-site games. However, Georgia and Florida will not take advantage of that opportunity at their annual matchup in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Bulldogs typically recruit heavily in Jacksonville and nearby South Georgia locales, such as Valdosta. Jacksonville is only a two-hour drive from Valdosta, while it takes approximately 4½ hours to drive from Valdosta to Athens. But the Bulldogs and Gators mutually decided not to take advantage of the new rule in this case and won't use the Jacksonville game as a recruiting opportunity.
"Georgia and Florida have agreed not to do this," Georgia assistant athletic director Claude Felton confirmed via email.
The new rule -- sponsored by Arkansas and Texas A&M representatives -- will permit the designated home team at off-campus games to provide tickets to prospects as unofficial visitors. Aside from Georgia-Florida, the Razorbacks and Aggies are the only teams in the league that play off-campus games, as they have played one another in Arlington, Texas, and Arkansas also plays some home games in Little Rock.
"I think it's a fair rule," Arkansas recruiting coordinator Tim Horton told ArkansasSports360. "It's something that will obviously help us in Little Rock. Obviously, with the support we have in Little Rock, it's a great sell to recruits."
Texas and Oklahoma also take advantage of the pageantry of their "Red River Rivalry" game in Dallas by using it as a showcase for recruits.
"It means so much to recruiting," Texas coach Mack Brown said last season during Oklahoma week. "Every recruit in this state and in Oklahoma will be there Saturday. Probably all the juniors and all the seniors. All of them."
Logistically, it can be difficult, time consuming and expensive to host recruits away from campus, which likely contributed to Georgia and Florida's joint agreement to forego hosting prospects in Jacksonville. In effect, they will continue to abide by the rule that was in place prior to its removal at the league meetings.
"There aren't going to be any (prospects) at ours unless they're family," Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner said last season before the Florida game. "That's the only way they can. You can't give tickets to them."
12hPat McManamon and Jeremy Fowler