The Georgia perspective: 8 or 9 game schedule

"$180,000 is pretty cheap for your soul, Chinzik." - Michael Chang

You may have read some discussion about whether the SEC should go to a 9 game schedule, or keep their traditional (since 1992) 8 game slate. Opinions can be divided between the two among reasonable people, but while a 9 game schedule seems all but inevitable thanks to money, and perhaps the power conferences of the NCAA splintering onto their own, but the correct answer for Georgia is to keep the schedule at 8 games. Why you ask? Well, I'll tell you some of the reasons why.

Auburn

One of the main reasons people claim a 9 game schedule as a necessity is to preserve the historic rivalries, with only two real ones of note in Tennessee/Alabama and Georgia/Auburn. And keeping that tradition that ties the past, present and future is important as college football slowly moves away from what made it what it was and is, to a more financially friendly sport. The Big 12 learned that first hand, as the long line of greatness that came from Nebraska playing Oklahoma was ignored for other games, and new lines of great games failed to be fabricated like the SEC has superbly done with Florida and LSU. So keeping the traditional matchups, like the South's Oldest Rivalry (learn how to read a calender Virginia and North Carolina), is important, but doesn't require 9 games to do so. Of course, that means...

But we'll never play much of the West!

OK, so? I understand that as a conference, you might want to play your fellow conference members. But as our beloved history exponent, T. Kyle King, often reminded us, that is a relatively new idea. We all know how often we've played Auburn, but how about Alabama? A game that was played almost yearly in the 40s and 50s, stopped in 1965 (thanks to an overrated reporter from a crap paper and a worthless magazine). There was a 7 year gap between the game in 1965, and the next matchup between those two in 1972, and another 7 year gap between the game in 1977 and the following meeting in 1984, and another 7 year gap between games in 1995 and 2002. How about those Bayou Bengals? Well, we did play them 6 times last decade (thanks to a pair of matchups in the SEC Championship game). And we played them on a yearly basis between 1943 and 1953, but after that? A 25 yr gap between the 1953 meeting and a game in 1978. Between 1953 and 1998, Georgia and LSU only played 6 times. Another long time conference member, Mississipp St, wasn't played at all between 1914 and 1950. Now, we did play the Bizarro Bulldogs 4 times a decade in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, but that quickly dropped to just twice in the 90s and another two times in the 2000s after the SEC expanded. The supposedly traditional foe of Ole Miss, who was our other permanent rival when the conference expanded to 12 teams in 1992, was only played once between 1942 and 1966 (although I should note it was played every year from 1966 through 2002, but just 4 times prior to 1966 despite being members of the same conference for several decades). Our now yearly rival Tennessee? We didn't play them a single time in the 40s or 50s, and only twice in the 30s, 60s, and 70s. Before the creation of the SEC East fabricated what has become a big yearly game for both programs, they squared off a grand total of 10 times in the 67 previous seasons despite being members of the same conference for that entire stretch.

Plain and simple, playing your conference foes on a regular, or even semi-regular basis, is a recent theory that history shows isn't really that important.

Florida and Georgia Tech

These two games are a primary reason the 8 game conference schedule works well for Georgia. Greg McGarity likes having home games for ticket sales and revenue. Athens area business push hard for as many home games as possible for help with their bottom lines. Going to 9 games becomes a tricky proposition, with the SEC already struggling to find a fair method of scheduling games in a 14 team conference. Go to 9 games, and some teams will have 4 home games with 5 road games, while others will get the benefit of 5 home vs. 4 road. And we all know it'll just be a matter of time before that extra home/road game will be pointed to as the reason one team won their division and another lost it, and the crying that comes with such unfair schedules (cue the Ol' Cry Baby to our east in Soda City). And the chances Alabama, coincidence only of course, ends up with more frequent 5 home/4 away conference schedules than say LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn? Not as small as it should be.

Georgia gets it even worse, because we, as well as Florida, volunteer to give up a home game every other year for the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Can we trust the schedule makers to set things up so Georgia and Florida at least get 4 home and 4 away every year (+ the neutral site in Jacksonville), or will there be a few odd years with just a mere 3 conference home games? You want to complain about weak home slates when spending thousands on season tickets now, wait until we get a year with 3 conference home games, no home game with Georgia Tech, and then just 2 bought wins against low level teams. To keep the game of Clean, Old Fashioned Hate AND the Cocktail Party, with a 9 game conference schedule, Georgia would be looking at probably 6 home games a year, maybe 7 in years when Tech comes to town, but it's almost impossible to get the 8 home games McGarity and local businesses love.

The only positive possibility that could come from a 9 game conference schedule would be the likelihood we buy yearly home wins from Georgia Southern, Georgia State, and Mercer. Aside from that, just say no to 9 SEC games. And now you know just a few reasons why the correct answer for Georgia fans is to keep the SEC slate at 8 games.

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