Last evening, drawing my inspiration from the recent ruminations of Every Day Should Be Saturday's Orson Swindle, I suggested that the supporters of The Movement should shift the focus of their efforts and direct their attention to E.S.P.N. through the Worldwide Leader's designated ombudsman, George Solomon.
As noted by Peter from Burnt Orange Nation, contacting George Solomon is the next step, but not the last step, so there still is strategy remaining to be planned. However, for now, here is the e-mail I sent to the aforementioned ombudsman in this regard:
I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to you today as a University of Georgia alumnus and season ticket holder, but also as a college football fan, in the hope of enlisting the aid of the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
Since shortly after the end of the 2005 season, I have been attempting to spearhead a grassroots effort to convince Georgia athletic director Damon Evans and Michigan athletic director Bill Martin that the Bulldogs and the Wolverines should schedule a two-year home and home series with one another in football.
In their respective responses, both Mr. Evans and Mr. Martin showed some receptiveness to the idea, but, because the Red and Black and the Maize and Blue hardly qualify as traditional rivals, it has been difficult to overcome the initial inertia that works against such an intersectional series. I am encouraged, however, by a number of factors.
First of all, all elite college football programs (and especially those in the Southeastern Conference) were taught a valuable lesson by Auburn's experience in 2004, when the Tigers went undefeated yet were left out of the national championship game due to their weak strength of schedule. This exclusion served notice to every school that is serious about competing for B.C.S. berths that an upgrade in out-of-conference scheduling was necessary to remain in the mix for a national title.
Secondly, last year's Texas-Ohio State game demonstrated to every N.C.A.A. program the potential benefits of aggressive out-of-conference scheduling, particularly in non-rivalry games outside one's own region. The Longhorns and the Buckeyes each profited handsomely from that matchup, earning prestige, B.C.S. berths, and financial windfalls from the contest.
Finally, E.S.P.N. has worked to arrange intersectional matchups of this sort out of recognition of the fact that such games are good for the sport and provide quality programming. The Worldwide Leader in Sports was a part of the agreement for Vanderbilt to open the 2006 season in Ann Arbor for a televised game against Michigan and I am confident that E.S.P.N. is interested in scheduling similar matchups involving not just teams from B.C.S. conferences but a pair of traditional powerhouse programs.
Michigan has not played a regular season road game in the South since the mid-1980s. Georgia has not played a regular season road game outside the South since the Bulldogs' last trip to Ann Arbor in 1965. Both are elite programs, as attested to by the fact that each squad's helmet appears on the spine of the E.S.P.N. College Football Encyclopedia, in the spot reserved for the 16 college football teams with the highest victory totals in the history of the sport. In short, visits by the Bulldogs to the Big House and by the Wolverines between the hedges would be marquee games that would garner national attention.
Both schools understandably are concerned about giving up the revenue that would be produced by playing an extra home game in order to travel to an inhospitable environment to face the challenge of an equal opponent. It would seem, therefore, that the best way to persuade Georgia and Michigan to schedule one another would be to demonstrate to both institutions' athletic directors that such a series would be sufficiently lucrative to make it worth their while.
There can be little doubt that the Bulldogs and the Wolverines have provided quality programming for the E.S.P.N. family of networks. Even excluding appearances on A.B.C., Georgia played 16 games on E.S.P.N. or E.S.P.N.2 between 2001 and 2005, of which nine were decided by a touchdown or less. In 2005, all 12 of Michigan's games were televised on A.B.C., E.S.P.N., E.S.P.N.2, or E.S.P.N.-Plus. Of these, eight were settled by seven or fewer points, including a pair of overtime games.
Given the stature of both programs, a two-game series between Georgia and Michigan could and likely would generate as much nationwide interest as last year's clash between Texas and Ohio State in Columbus. Both squads have histories of giving E.S.P.N. audiences their money's worth in games televised under the aegis of the Worldwide Leader in Sports and next fall's season opener between the Wolverines and a visiting Southeastern Conference squad was scheduled by the two teams in partnership with the network.
I believe that the support and involvement of E.S.P.N. in the effort to persuade the athletic administrations of the Universities of Georgia and Michigan to schedule two games against one another in football could tip the scales in favor of bringing about such a series. I also believe that a pair of Georgia-Michigan matchups, one in Ann Arbor, the other in Athens, would be good not only for the teams and for their conferences, but for your network and for college football.
Your consideration of, and support for, this idea would be appreciated greatly. I thank you in advance for your time and attention in this matter.
T. Kyle King
Advocates of The Movement are encouraged to write to George Solomon to show their support, for which I thank you in advance.
Naturally, you may feel free to share the content of your e-mails to the E.S.P.N. ombudsman by posting the text or the link in the comments below and in the diaries to the right. Also, since Peter has started the discussion, your thoughts on the next step would be welcome, as well.
On an altogether separate (and much more important) note, I send all my readers my very best wishes for a happy Easter. He is risen indeed.