Earlier today, after encouraging all supporters of The Movement to write to E.S.P.N. ombudsman George Solomon to express their support for a Georgia-Michigan football series, I received a supportive comment from fellow University of Georgia alumnus Tommy Perkins, whose weblog Bottled Blues and Other Roadside Attractions features an excellent essay on the profitability of the Bulldog athletics program.
They're using these for doorstops, paperweights, and seat cushions over at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.
Tommy, responding to recent reports that Georgia's is the most profitable collegiate athletics program in the country, makes a persuasive case for the proposition that "cash is not its own end for a quasi-public enterprise like the UGA athletic department. It is a means." Accordingly, Tommy argues, with much passion and many facts, that Georgia's athletic director, Damon Evans, should put that money to use rather than saving it for a rainy day.
Noting that Georgia's operating margin "is nearly double that of the NFL's most profitable franchise," Tommy offers the following heartfelt plea:
Since Georgia's last regular season trip out of the Southeast, man took his first steps on the moon, the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Oval Office has had eight occupants and Bobby Bowden has taken Florida State to national prominence [by] hauling the former women's college's football team all over the country to take on all comers.
Tommy is kind enough to refer favorably to The Movement, but, like many supporters of my proposal for a Georgia-Michigan series, he does not want to see such aggressive scheduling stop after a single trip to Ann Arbor. Adds Tommy: "Personally, I'd love to see something similar with Texas," as he rightly admires "the 'have cash, will travel' disposition that I hope will soon take hold in the Butts-Mehre building, especially in the era of a 12-game regular season." His take on Texas is exactly correct and I would welcome the opportunity to see the 'Dawgs and the defending national champions lock horns.
One small step for the 'Dawgs, one giant leap for Bulldog Nation.
Naturally, I agree with Tommy that a home and home series with Michigan is the next step, but not the last step. I believe Damon Evans deserves considerable praise for upgrading the Bulldogs' football schedule (as well as their national brand identity) and I am even willing to accept the two-steps-forward-one-step-back approach of arranging treks to Arizona State and Colorado virtually simultaneously with announcing visits from Division I-AA opponents like Western Kentucky.
As a lifelong Georgian who was 30 years old before he first set foot on the soil of a state that did not have a star on the Confederate battle flag, I sometimes forget the plight of the myriad of alumni who live far from the Classic City yet remain devoted to the Red and Black. Just as I support keeping the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville as a concession to the South Georgia fans for whom road trips to Athens are difficult, I find compelling Tommy's contention that University of Georgia graduates located outside the South deserve the opportunity to see the 'Dawgs play nearby, as well.
In an upcoming remake of a classic James Bond film, Agent 007 will be called upon to prevent Auric Goldfinger from carrying out a nefarious plot against this storehouse of great wealth.
Tommy has several other worthwhile points to make and I would encourage you to pay a visit to his site to read his essay for yourself. However, as it relates specifically to the short-term goal of The Movement (with all of its beneficial long-term ramifications), I found this point particularly interesting:
After deducting interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization from the operating profit realized from its departmental revenues, the University of Georgia athletic association was $18 million in the black last year. The N.C.A.A.'s second most profitable program raked in $17.1 million. That institution was the University of Michigan.
Money should be no object when it comes to scheduling a football game between the two most financially successful intercollegiate athletics programs in the land. The coffers are sufficiently full for both schools to be willing to give up the cash flow generated by one home game against Central Michigan or Louisiana-Monroe, but, if maintaining cash reserves that would make a banker blush is what both schools require, then, by all means, let's talk E.S.P.N. into ponying up enough dollars to get the Bulldogs and the Wolverines on board.