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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Johnson: Dome Hurting In-State Recruiting

Mark Richt has said repeatedly this offseason that he'd like to see the Bulldogs play a game in the Georgia Dome soon, but he's not alone in making that request.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson wants the Yellow Jackets to get a shot at a game in the Dome, too, and he's not happy about the recruiting edge competing teams -- namely ACC counterparts Clemson and Virginia Tech -- get from getting the nod instead.

"It helps the teams that are playing, no question," Johnson said. "No use dancing around it. It helps them; doesn't do anything for us or Georgia. And when you bring teams in your own conference in to showcase now in a kickoff game, it's got to help them recruit."

Last season, Clemson and Alabama faced off in their season openers at the Georgia Dome. This year, the Crimson Tide will return to Atlanta to take on Virginia Tech.

It's a move designed, at least in part, to bring some tourism and attention to Atlanta, as designed by the game's hosts, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Committee. Johnson understands the thought process, but he's not happy about the results.

"I learned a long time ago not to worry about things you can't control," Johnson said. "Right now, that's out of my control. They've got a job to do, and I've got a job to do. I understand what they're doing. But if you're asking if it helps us, it doesn't help us. No. And I'd be surprised if Mark (Richt) didn't feel the same way."

Richt hasn't explicitly criticized the committee for snubbing Georgia or giving Alabama an unfair recruiting edge, but he has made clear that he'd like to play at least one game there in the future. Finding that game, however, remains a problem, as Richt is unwilling to lose a home game in exchange.

"We have a neutral site game (against Florida) already, so every other year we're losing a home game," Richt said. "If you have another neutral site situation, you're losing another home game, and I don't think we should trade a home game for a game in the Dome. But if they want to trade a home game to play in Atlanta, that would be great for us."

(* Thanks to the Telegraph's Coley Harvey for providing the Johnson quotes.)

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