Not content merely to bust my chops, C&F also felt compelled to burst my bubble by demonstrating that Urban Meyer mostly just restored what had become the status quo in the SEC East since the 1992 divisional split. While it was not news that the Gators are good (or that Georgia must resolve its own issues before being able to take advantage of others’ issues), C&F’s latter posting sparked an interesting comment thread that reminds us that, as Chris Fowler has noted, "BCS" stands for "better check the schedule."
Here are the 2011 conference slates for the four teams to have represented the Eastern Division in the Georgia Dome:
- Georgia: South Carolina (9/10), at Ole Miss (9/24), Mississippi State (10/1), at Tennessee (10/8), at Vanderbilt (10/15), Florida @ Jax (10/29), Auburn (11/12), Kentucky (11/19)
- Florida: Tennessee (9/17), at Kentucky (9/24), Alabama (10/1), at LSU (10/8), at Auburn (10/15), Georgia @ Jax (10/29), Vanderbilt (11/5), at South Carolina (11/12)
- South Carolina: at Georgia (9/10), Vanderbilt (9/24), Auburn (10/1), Kentucky (10/8), at Mississippi State (10/15), at Tennessee (10/29), at Arkansas (11/5), Florida (11/12)
- Tennessee: at Florida (9/17), Georgia (10/8), LSU (10/15), at Alabama (11/22), South Carolina (10/29), at Arkansas (11/12), Vanderbilt (11/19), at Kentucky (11/26)
The schedule seems to set up fairly well for the Red and Black. The Bulldogs have three true road games, against three of the league’s bottom four teams, whereas the other contenders each have four away games against SEC foes. Florida and Tennessee face 16th-ranked Alabama; Georgia does not. Florida and Tennessee face eleventh-ranked Louisiana State; Georgia does not. South Carolina and Tennessee face eighth-ranked Arkansas; Georgia does not.
In 2011, which figured to be a fairly wide-open year in the SEC East even before Coach Meyer’s retirement, the Bulldogs should benefit from a comparatively weak draw out of the other division, with two Western Division teams visiting Sanford Stadium, the Rebels coming off of a down year, and the likely losses of key figures on the roster or on the coaching staff for both Auburn and Mississippi State.
None of these are guarantees, of course; there certainly will be some surprises along the way, and there is no telling which teams will be better than expected. Nevertheless, the Red and Black have as favorable a conference schedule next season as any team in the Eastern Division, which ought to give the Bulldogs a distinct edge in the race to earn a place in the SEC Championship Game.
We know that next season will begin in the Georgia Dome. Three months later, it ought to end there, as well.