I attempted to advance The Movement on Thursday evening, when I compared Georgia's non-conference scheduling to that of the Texas Longhorns.
In furtherance of that same objective, I now turn my attention to a squad much closer to home. Join me, if you will, in looking to the Plains as we investigate the out-of-conference opponents faced by the Auburn Tigers.
I know, I know . . . the Alabama Polytechnic Institute's non-S.E.C. football slate tends to be as weak as its institutional ethics or its academic standards, but bear with me for a second here.
Georgia's neutral site series with Florida is often cited as a reason for not beefing up the Bulldogs' non-league schedule. Certain valuable lessons might therefore be learned from a glance at the experiences of the Plainsmen, whose history of neutral site games is substantial.
Auburn once offered valuable lessons in how to overcome difficult scheduling challenges . . . back when this guy was on our side.
The Tigers played two neutral site games a year as recently as 1980. They played four neutral site games a year as recently as 1976. In 1948, the Plainsmen played games in Atlanta, Birmingham, Columbus, Mobile, Montgomery, New Orleans, and Tampa . . . but only one in Auburn. Prior to 1959, the Tigers faced their two biggest rivals (Alabama and Georgia) at neutral sites virtually every year.
I have already described in detail the Bulldogs' prior practice of scheduling tough road games during the period that Georgia and Auburn annually squared off in Doug Gillett's home town of Columbus, Georgia.
When we examine Auburn's out-of-conference slates for that same period (1916-1958), the results are not surprising. The Tigers are infamous for weak non-conference schedules that rival those of Kansas State, Minnesota, and Texas Tech, so it should not shock us to learn that, during a 43-year period in which the 'Dawgs played 34 road games outside the South, the Plainsmen played only 11 such contests.
Auburn's non-conference schedule, 1892-2005.
Although Auburn played various teams in Florida and in Texas during those seasons, the Tigers' only treks outside the region were to take on Army at West Point in 1923, Wisconsin at Madison in 1931, George Washington in the District of Columbia in 1933, Detroit in the Motor City in 1936, Santa Clara at San Francisco in 1936, Villanova at Philadelphia in 1937 and 1941, Manhattan at New York City in 1939, Boston College at Chestnut Hill in 1939 and 1940, and Georgetown in the District of Columbia in 1942.
Auburn only played one-third as many road games outside of the South as the Bulldogs did during the years that the Tigers faced Georgia at Columbus and Alabama at Birmingham, yet the Plainsmen at least managed to take on one Big Ten team (Wisconsin) and one team from the state of Michigan (Detroit).
Obviously, Auburn doesn't have as much to show for those years where its out-of-conference scheduling is concerned. Nevertheless, even during a period in which the Tigers had to arrange their fall slates with the knowledge that two perennial contests would never be played on the A.U. campus, the Plainsmen still managed to sneak in a couple of trips to the Midwest . . . which is more than we can say for Georgia over the course of the last 40 seasons.
According to his college transcript, Vince Dooley earned an A+ in Football Home Scheduling 101 while enrolled at Auburn University.
Of course, the basis for comparison between Georgia and Auburn is limited by certain differences. For one thing, we in Athens know better than to celebrate gridiron victories by throwing toilet paper into trees.
For another, facing two conference opponents at neutral sites in the early part of the 20th century isn't exactly the same thing as facing one conference opponent at a neutral site and one non-conference opponent in a home and home series in the early part of the 21st century.
Fortunately, as we look at the Tigers' football legacy, we find a much closer parallel which helps support the thesis that the Red and Black can, in fact, afford to schedule more aggressively. Stay tuned.
To be continued. . . .