Michael Elkon has a post up today about Georgia’s 2008 schedule… and about the schedules that preceded it.
Since the prevailing theme this summer in discussing the 2008 Dawgs is going to be “they’re going to be very good, but the schedule is so tough,” I need to get something off my chest that I’ve been considering for a while: this schedule is penance. Georgia hasn’t played a road game outside of the South since the Lyndon Johnson Administration, so maybe they don’t deserve endless hosannas for finally doing what most of the rest of major college football programs do…
Maybe he’s running ahead of the crowd a little here, but I’m somewhat underwhelmed by his argument for several reasons.
- I haven’t heard much of the “woe is me” handwringing from Georgia partisans that Elkon claims to be reacting to. Pretty much everyone I’ve talked about it with has acknowledged the schedule as a challenge that would validate a two loss or less season, rather than as an excuse for failure. When I would expect significant whining from the Dawgnation to occur would be if a two loss Georgia team were kept out of the BCS title game so that two one loss schools with lesser schedules could meet. But that’s a “cross that bridge when we get there” consideration right now.
- “Repeating endlessly ‘we have to go to Columbia…'”? Dude, no. If you asked a Georgia fan to list the biggest roadblocks on the schedule, this might rank fifth. At best.
- The “Georgia hasn’t played a regular season game outside the South in decades” is an overrated criticism, unless you think that lengthy travel, in and of itself, is a great equalizer of talent.
- Elkon’s main point seems to be that Georgia fans have no grounds for complaint about the ’08 schedule because they never gave proper credit to the scheduling gods for those years when their program was the beneficiary of a trip through the lesser portion of the SEC West. This is pretty weak beer. First, it’s not like Georgia was able to pick and choose who its opponents were each year. Second, it’s not like anyone knows going in how an opponent’s season will play out. For example, he points to ’03 and the negative record of Georgia’s SEC West foes that year, but neglects to remember that many people were touting Auburn as a MNC candidate in preseason that year. But, OK, fine if he wants to go down that road – as long as, for one thing, he’ll acknowledge the advantage that Florida worked into its scheduling in many years with the open date prior to the WLOCP. It’s not like any school operates in a vacuum with this stuff.
- His last point has some validity, although I don’t think Georgia has avoided travel out of cowardice so much as out of greed. Dooley simply didn’t want to give up the revenue generated from a home game against a cupcake. The twelfth game has given Damon some scheduling flexibility and Elkon in the follow up comments commendably credits Damon with stepping up on that front.