A few more thoughts on Georgia’s scheduling news

I wanted to unpack a couple more things from yesterday’s announcement about Georgia beefing up its future scheduling.  First, here’s how what we’ve had confirmed plays out:

2019: Notre Dame, at Georgia Tech

2020: vs. Virginia (in Atlanta), Georgia Tech

2021: at Georgia Tech

2022: vs. Oregon (in Atlanta), Georgia Tech

2023: at Georgia Tech, at Oklahoma (not official yet)

2024: vs. Clemson (in Atlanta), Georgia Tech

2025: at UCLA, at Georgia Tech

2026: UCLA, Georgia Tech

2027: at Florida State, at Georgia Tech

2028: Florida State, at Texas, Georgia Tech

2029: Texas, at Clemson, at Georgia Tech

2030: Clemson, at Georgia Tech

2031: Georgia Tech

2032: Clemson, at Georgia Tech

2033: at Clemson, Georgia Tech

Add in one more home game with Oklahoma, and that’s really something.

Now, I like to think I have a decent grasp of how Kirby’s football mind works, and while I have little reason to believe this wasn’t a primary consideration behind the push…

… I do not doubt for a moment that he offered this ($$) sincerely.

They also believe that in an era of dwindling attendance for weaker opponents, Georgia fans will respond well to strong home-and-home agreements. “We think that’s going to be the lay of the land,” Smart said. “The fan, what they’re asking for and what they’re paying for tickets, they want to see those kinds of games.”

This is, in all facets, one of those rare win-win-win situations, good for recruiting, for the fan base and for the box office.

It’s pretty obvious from these comments (as well as the few tepid remarks McGarity added), that Kirby is driving this particular train.  He deserves a ton of credit for getting B-M to abandon its knee-jerk approach to scheduling seven home games regardless of the number of cupcakes it takes to get there.  Raising the quality of the schedule is good for business, because at its heart, it’s a fan-friendly call.

Certainly there’s a greater risk of losing a game as a result, but Smart deserves credit for embracing that risk.

“We’re not running from Power 5s,” Smart said. “(The selection committee) has proven that later games in the year have more impact on who makes the Playoff, so if you can get a Power 5 team late in your schedule, I’m talking the last three or four weeks, you’ve got a chance to spike and send yourself into that conversation.”

It’s not exactly on point, but that strikes me as somewhat echoing the calculated move Bobby Bowden made with FSU’s “we’ll play anyone” scheduling approach early in his tenure in order to elevate the national perception of that program.  That canny decision worked as intended, and it’ll be interesting to see if this move pays similar dividends with the selection committee’s appraisal of Georgia in the coming years.

Mike Griffith makes this point with regard to another position Smart has taken:

Smart, a former All-SEC safety at Georgia himself, has been a proponent of a nine-game SEC schedule, too.

“I’ve always been in favor or a nine-game schedule, (but) it’s not my decision to make,” Smart said last October, asked his thoughts on adding another league game with respect to the fact that UGA made its first trip to LSU since 2008 and under the current model wouldn’t be in Baton Rouge again until 2030.

“I think it (would be) a good thing, but I think you will have teams with more losses,” Smart said. “Does it affect a team getting in the playoff? I don’t know, but I know you have a lot more games to get up for, a lot more good rivalry games.

“It’s not just about traveling, it’s just as much about the atmosphere of playing an SEC opponent, I think you are playing more comparable teams to your talent level, I think it’s important for college football.”

You’re preaching to the choir there, Kirby.

Of course, the difference is that upgrading the home-and-homes only takes McGarity’s consent; a nine-game conference schedule is a matter above McGarity’s paygrade.  (Yeah, yeah, keep your snarky comment to yourself here.)  But again, from a business standpoint, over the long-term it makes more sense because it gives the fans more product to be engaged with.  Will Georgia take a more public lead in getting the rest of the conference to change its mind?  It would sure beat the hell out of Michael Adams’ crusades.

Which brings me to what provided the most impetus for this post.  You may recall that Nick Saban has groused a good bit about students cutting out early from Alabama’s routine seal-clubbing of cupcakes.  While you might think that a schedule upgrade would be the most obvious way to fix some of that, apparently that’s not how they think in Tuscaloosa.  This is how they think.

An email sent Monday to every corner of the University of Alabama campus had Nick Saban’s fingerprints all over it.

The message from the school’s athletic department alerted students about their options for buying tickets, informing them of their eligibility for both full and split packages that included a select number of home games.

There was also a section outlining the prices — $20 for an SEC matchup and $15 for one of those rent-a-win affairs.

Then, at the very end, was a note describing a new initiative called “Tide Loyalty Points.”

“Through the Tide Loyalty Points program, students will earn points for attending home football games and for their support in the 4th quarter,” the email read. “Those points will contribute to students’ priority access to regular and postseason tickets.”

What a grim way to get kids — you know, the folks you hope will turn into future season ticket holders one day — to hang around long enough to satisfy the head coach.  That’s meant literally, by the way.

“Look, our players work too hard and they deserve to have everything and people supporting them in every way and have tremendous spirit for what they’ve done,” Saban said last fall. “And they might not be able to continue to do it and we’re going to work hard to continue that but there’s a part of it that other people need to support them, too. And there has to be a sprit that makes it special to play here because that’s what makes it special to be here. And it that’s not here, does it continue to be special to be here or not? That’s the question everybody has to ask and I’m asking it right now.”

Admittedly, I’ve done my share of mocking the way Kirby has tried to turn the fan base into a G-Day prop for recruiting, but he’s never pretended that the program is entitled to fan support in the way that Saban proposes.  When it comes to spending my money and my passion, if I’ve got to choose between a place that’s made a conscious decision to chase both by offering a higher level of entertainment in the competitive sense and a place that makes it an almost joyless obligation… well, that’s not really much of a choice.

I never thought I’d see the day when I could honestly say that the Georgia football program has approached something in a way more worthy of respect than Alabama has, but here we are.  At least in one area, the pupil has clearly surpassed the master.  Thanks, Kirby.

28 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

28 responses to “A few more thoughts on Georgia’s scheduling news

  1. Dee Herb

    great stuff here- Go Dawgs!

    Like

  2. Great post … as a season ticket holder who has complained about the in-game experience, I have to give it to everyone involved … even GMcG. Thank you.

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  3. doiknowu

    I notice that we’re playing at Tech back-to-back in ‘29-30. Had this been announced previously? I assume this was the only way to correct the Auburn flip?

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  4. JasonC

    With the non-Tech games, it seems like we always travel first and then have the team come to us. I wonder if that is by design.

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  5. KornDawg

    I’m curious how they plan to track the students that stay for the 4th qtr. Will they have them scan out as they leave the stadium? That seems easy to get around. Maybe award points to anyone that scans out after the game is over? I agree, though, Senator, give me a reason to stick around, don’t penalize me for leaving a game that’s 49-3 in 90 degree heat.

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    • 79Dawg

      I think one of the issues is what are the points going to be used for? If it is to go to away, bowl, etc. games, I think that is a fair trade off – give the tickets to the big games to the most dedicated. If they are going to use the points for much more than that, it’s pretty BS.

      Like

  6. Al

    If they every do go to 9 conference games, will we cancel some of these home and home series?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Biggus Rickus

    I don’t know why we think this would have been a tough sell to BM. Georgia scheduled a rising Boise in 2005, a home and home with Colorado in 2006 and 2010, a home and home with Oklahoma State in 2007 and 2009, a home and home with Arizona State in 2008 and 2009, a kick-off with Boise in 2011, a home and home with Clemson in 2013 and 2014, a kick-off with North Carolina in 2016 and a home and home with Notre Dame in 2017 and 2019. It’s not like this is unusual for Georgia. They haven’t been playing Florida’s OOC for the last fifteen years.

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    • PTC DAWG

      Agree, not really all that different…

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    • stoopnagle

      Right. This always seems to be overlooked: UGA has consistently scheduled 2 P5 OOC games since the advent of the 12th game. Only once (last year) was it three cupcakes. 2 other years we brought in Georgia Southern as a favor to little brother.

      I kind of wish now that the 2011 game had never happened and we would have gotten the home-and-home with L’ville. We’ve also mutually backed out of a series with Oregon and Ohio State.

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  8. PTC DAWG

    Strong

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    • Bob

      Our scheduling has always been above the rest of the SEC. But that isn’t saying much since cream puffs dot the SEC landscape. This is a whole new lever that even nationally on USC routinely matches and sometimes Notre Dame. The rest of the national powers don’t come close to this type of scheduling. And Alabama’s scheduling has been a total joke. Four out of conference power 5 road games this century. They are great. They also should be embarrassed.

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  9. Dawg in Austin

    I watched his press conference as well, and my biggest takeaway was his hinting towards playoff expansion. It seems to me that Kirby is reading the tea leaves at worst and may know that the playoff will expand to eight teams. Otherwise how would you get a two loss team in the playoffs with any frequency? I love the idea of making a more competitive schedule, and home and home games are much more fun than going back to Atlanta every year. But I do think this is more about playoff positioning for Kirby than anything else. Either way, I’ll take it.

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  10. Doug

    You’d think McGarity would be thrilled at the prospect of playing more P5 teams, if only because of the bottom line. Isn’t it more profitable to schedule big games that lots of people want to attend than to pay $500K to book an FCS game nobody cares about? Am I missing something here?

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  11. Texas Dawg

    I have no problem with ONE cupcake in the 1st or 2nd game of the season. It basically serves as the equivalent of the NFL’s last preseason game where the starters play much deeper into the game to shake of the cobwebs. After that there should not be ANY cupcakes on the schedule (well not counting the NERDs at the end of the year).

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  12. Otto

    I am not a fan of some of these schedules. Smart said when he arrived that he like a big game to open the season as ti keeps the team focused during the off season.

    I am a fan of an 8 game SEC schedule, 1 big P5 game early which should be in Athens the years that UGA travels to BDS at CMR field. The other games should be lesser games. I’d be ok with Duke, Wake Forest, or mid to low level Big10 game for the easier game but not Texas and FSU in the same year.

    Scholarship levels are at 85, it is hard enough to keep depth to survive the SEC schedule and then play a playoff. Yes the playoff is more important than getting to see another big regular season game. I want titles not prime time TV.

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    • Tony Barnfart

      The problem with that line of thought is that an easy schedule does NOT guarantee your appearance in the playoff and a hard schedule does NOT automatically foreclose it. But if you schedule undesirables you are guaranteed to have an undesirable home schedule. Give me the bird in hand.

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      • Otto

        Depth has been an issue for UGA and Bam recently. I’ll take the easier schedule. I want every legal advantage to get titles.

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  13. SouthernYank

    Love to see this. Wish all Power 5 teams would make this kind of effort.

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    • psyopdawg

      Agreed.
      Also…If you’re a Vandy, Ark, MS ST., ect… why would you want an almost guaranteed extra loss per year in a 9 game schedule?

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  14. stoopnagle

    Oh, y’all, I think I just hit on the solution to the 2021 schedule. Right now, we have:

    Sept 4 v San Jose State
    Sept 11 v UAB

    But UAB does not have a game on the 18th and SJSU does not have a game on the 11th. If we can convince them to shift those games, could we be in the conversation for a neutral site kick-off game at Las Vegas Stadium vs a Pac-12 team? There was some chatter about the Pac-12 wanting to use that stadium for a kick-off game, the Pac-12 Championship, and an upgraded LV Bowl. The bowl piece has already happened with the LVB moving up the Pac-12’s pecking order and dumping the MWC for a B1G/SEC rotation.

    There is a scheduled game between Arizona and BYU for the 4th; but who says they won’t double-up?

    Both Arizona State and USC(!) need a 2021 game.

    Or, the new Rams/Chargers stadium in LA opens in 2020, too. Maybe? Probably not, but… maybe?

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  15. Castleberry

    Is it just me, or wasn’t Damon Evans also taking us down this scheduling path with tougher out of conference power five matchups? If I remember, McGarity brought the Florida scheduling philosophy to play your in state P5 rival and then cupcakes…

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  16. DawgFaithful

    Good stuff SB!

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  17. Ldawg

    Well done Sir!

    Like