Georgia this season plays at Arizona State, marking the first time since 1967 that the Bulldogs have played a regular season game outside of the Southeast. Since 1992, the SEC as a whole has played less than half as many out-of-region games than any BCS conference besides the Big East.
So my question is, what incentive do teams really have to go out there and play legitimately tough non-conference games every year? Any respectable BCS school will demand a home-and-home series, and if the odds of actually winning that game are so terrible, why not be like Georgia or Florida or LSU, and never schedule a game outside of the southeastern U.S.?
— Ryan, Columbus, Ohio
First of all, that Georgia nugget, which has been circulating frequently in recent months, is truly astounding, and has surely contributed to the notion I asserted last summer about that program’s lack of national cachet. Fortunately, current AD Damon Evans realizes this and has taken numerous, progressive steps to enhance the Bulldogs’ image, including scheduling home-and-homes like this one…
Once again, distance traveled is somehow made to equate with degree of difficulty. Would Georgia’s 2003 schedule have been tougher if the Dawgs had traveled to play Stanford instead of Clemson?
The thing of it is that Mandel himself goes on to give an example that undercuts this argument.
… Florida may not be leaving its region but, in addition to its annual date with Florida State, is renewing its series with Miami.
That’s national power Florida to you, bub. That’s the same Florida program which hasn’t traveled outside the South to play a regular season football game since 1991 (that will become the longest gap for any SEC school after Georgia plays in Tempe). So exactly why does travel outside the region matter?