This should be the start of something big.

There’s an interesting discussion thread on the DawgRun message board about Georgia’s 2009 schedule where the point is made that Damon Evans may have been a bit too aggressive with his scheduling of non-conference opponents, in that it may cost the Dawgs an opportunity to play for something big, like a national title, in either of those seasons.

I can’t say that I agree with that reasoning, at least in the context of the next two seasons. For one thing, you never know how things will turn out when you put a schedule together – or when the games are actually played, for that matter.

More importantly, I think Evans has made a conscious decision to elevate the visibility and prominence of the program on a national level. Like it or not, attitudes about the Georgia program like Stewart Mandel’s are not uncommon. One way to attack that is to become a little more fearless in scheduling OOC opponents. Doing so also has the benefit of raising the school’s profile nationally in recruiting, something Tennessee has pursued for a number of years with some success.

Besides, if you win these types of games, they help immensely in getting a school a shot to play in the BCS title game. Just ask LSU about how much the slaughter of Virginia Tech last year helped its chances. That’s why the Southern Cal game is so huge for Ohio State this season – win that game and the criticism about losing the last two BCS title games is blunted significantly.

If Richt has the program at the level most of us believe he does today, games like the ones coming up with Arizona State and Oklahoma State present the opportunity for Georgia to cement its position as among the truly elite, alongside the Southern Californias of the D-1 world, perhaps not so much in our eyes, but in the minds of the national media and the college football public. And that’s a good thing, a challenge worth embracing.

Last, but not least, as fans, don’t we prefer to shell out our money on games with opponents like these instead of 1-AA and Sun Belt Conference cupcakes? I know I do.

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18 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

18 responses to “This should be the start of something big.

  1. Ben

    With the current championship system and the amount of luck and shilling that has to happen in order to get in we might not be doing ourselves any favors with the tough schedule the next few years.

    However, I would much prefer an SEC title with some big, legitimate OOC wins and let the MNC thing take care of itself. Like Richt says and folks everywhere else, if you win your conference good things can happen.

    Finally, if the Dawgs are really as good as we (the fans) think they are we shouldn’t be sweating a tilt in the desert with ASU or worrying about Stillwater and the opening of their newly-remodeled (or is it brand new?) stadium.

    Go Dawgs!

  2. scdawg

    Ben is right: Win the conference. That is all you can worry about. I still don’t think we had much of a beef last year b/c we didn’t win the conference, even if it was a fun argument to have.

  3. JasonC

    I definitely agree that putting I-AA teams on your schedule should be the exception and not the norm. I think that is very difficult now that we are at 12 games in a season. But outside of a game against GSU once every 10 years, we don’t need to dabble in scheduling I-AA teams.

  4. Look at the last few teams to have gone undefeated and won MNCs. In 2005, Texas had that win over Ohio State. In 2004, USC kicked off the season by beating a VaTech team that would go on to win the ACC. In 2002, OSU played both Texas Tech (9-5) and Washington State (10-3). In 2001, Miami played Washington, who were defending Pac-10 champions at the time.

    Meanwhile, the one BCS-conference team to go undefeated and get left out of a title game, Auburn ’04, had an OOC slate of ULM, Louisiana Tech, and the Citadel. The lesson? If you’re really MNC caliber, you shouldn’t be afraid of a tough OOC matchup, for the truly elite teams have overcome those challenges and earned a crystal football just the same. No reason for Georgia to be aiming for anything lower than that at this point.

  5. Chuck

    They ought to resume the strength of schedule metric for the BSC.

  6. dean

    I don’t have a problem scheduling one D-1AA, or sub bowl division or whatever the hell they refer to them as now, but more than that doesn’t help anybody. Scheduling one for the opening game or homecoming is fine but when teams start scheduling 2 or 3 just to pad their wins and get bowl eligible (I’m talking to you Tech) then it’s time for something to be done.

    Senator, your last sentence is dead on point. The basis for the addition of a 12th game was for the revenue generated by one more home game. Stands to reason the better the match-up the bigger the crowed, which leads to dollah, dollah billz.

  7. Chuck, I couldn’t agree with you more. Either build in a SOS factor in the BCS calcs, or set a participation threshold, where teams without a certain SOS ranking aren’t eligible to play in the BCS.

  8. The 2007 Hawai'i Warriors

    Why would you ever want to do such a thing?

  9. Re the SOS metrics…from 1998 to 2003, the BCS champion had an average SOS of 17. Only 1999 FSU played a top 10 schedule. I guess there is such a thing as overdoing it.

    Doug’s point is noted, but I’m not sure there’s a lesson in all of it. Did Texas reach the title game because they played and beat Ohio State, or would they have played for it all anyway without risking a game they very nearly lost? Is the lesson of 2004 really about Auburn’s schedule, or does it have more to do with Oklahoma, Southern Cal, and the aftermath of the 2003 split title?

  10. Groo, I don’t think I’d set the bar quite that high – after all, you never really know how difficult a schedule will turn out to be when it comes time to play it – but, as a threshold, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that a team’s SOS should be in the top half nationally to be eligible to participate in a BCS game.

  11. NM

    If we can’t beat Arizona State or Oklahoma State, we sure as hell can’t beat USC, Ohio State, or whoever winds up in the Championship Game. Plus it’s a good warmup for the SEC schedule — a lot better than playing a I-AA team and having your first team play a quarter or two at half-speed before bringing in the freshmen…

    Now, as for playing four tough SEC games in a row on the road (counting UF), that’s a legit beef. But that’s one to be raised with the league, not Evans.

  12. I don’t think the lesson is so much that you have to have a marquee OOC matchup on your schedule to get a shot at a title, but rather that such a matchup is not the death knell for a team’s national-title chances that some people make it out to be. If you’re a really good team — like Texas ’05 or USC ’04 — then you win that game, you don’t duck it.

    And while Auburn’s title quest in ’04 was not doomed solely by the lack of a really good OOC contest, it certainly harmed them in terms of The Narrative that’s always being sought by ESPN and the like. Think about how Auburn never got any real respect as an MNC contender in ’04, and how Florida ’06 (who also didn’t really have any big-time OOC contests to speak of) just barely made it into the BCS title game in the face of a withering onslaught from the ESPN talking heads who were pining for a tOSU-Michigan rematch. It sucks that we have to go along with these kinds of shenanigans, but if the entry fee for making it into The Narrative and being taken seriously as an MNC contender is scheduling one big-time OOC opponent, we might as well do it. Mainstream-media hoop-jumping notwithstanding, what are we afraid of?

  13. Ladydawg

    I think they should have some basis for a strength of schedule factored into the BS standings. If you are consciously scheduling tougher division I teams, you should get credit for it. Instead of getting credit for playing the little sisters of the poor and the directional schools for ALL of your OOC games.

    My only problem with Damon’s scheduling is that I think he could have raised Georgia’s profile without having them travel so far. There are plenty of respected programs on THIS side of the country that would’ve probably agreed to play us.

  14. Xon

    People got all riled about SOS when Nebraska snuck into the title game in 2001 (even though, looking at the available options, there really wasn’t anyone else worthy to go). People made the “this could all come down to who this no-name team beat in a meaningless game in a crappy conference in October”, b/c SOS involves record of opponents and record of opponents’ opponents. It was stupid to get rid of it for that reason, and it certainly doesn’t help the whole cupcake-scheduling thing…

    I also say that Margin of Victory should feature back in, which also played a role in people’s indignation in 01 when Nebraska got in. I’m pretty sure that’s when they eliminated MOV from the formula?

  15. My only problem with Damon’s scheduling is that I think he could have raised Georgia’s profile without having them travel so far. There are plenty of respected programs on THIS side of the country that would’ve probably agreed to play us.

    LD, in his defense, Damon’s done that, too. I believe he’s got games scheduled in upcoming years against two Big East schools (Louisville and Cincinnati) and Clemmins, among others.

  16. I also say that Margin of Victory should feature back in, which also played a role in people’s indignation in 01 when Nebraska got in. I’m pretty sure that’s when they eliminated MOV from the formula?

    Even though MOV isn’t a formal part of the BCS math these days, I still think it’s a subjective factor in the rankings. I suspect the voters take it into account on some level when they cast their poll ballots.

  17. Hobnail_Boot

    Senator, Cincy backed out of that series.

  18. HB, I should have phrased that better – Evans deserves the credit for scheduling the games, even if the other school backed out at a later date.