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Learning a Lesson from Texas

Although it is my hope for Dawg Sports to cover all of Georgia athletics, my first love (and probably yours, too) is football.  

Accordingly, it is high time I returned my attention to the subject of The Movement.  

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my weblog's earlier incarnation at Kyle on Football, "The Movement" is the campaign by Georgia and Michigan webloggers to convince the athletic directors in Ann Arbor and Athens to schedule a home and home football series between the Bulldogs and the Wolverines.  

Cool helmet graphic courtesy of The M Zone.  

I have devoted much effort to this cause, including examining the out-of-conference scheduling practices of other schools to determine whether the Red and Black really have a valid argument that their yearly trip to Jacksonville and their annual battle for Peach State bragging rights preclude the 'Dawgs from playing high profile games against historic programs in other regions.  

I recently took a look at Oklahoma's non-conference scheduling and found that, despite the fact that the Sooners' neutral site game against the Longhorns in Dallas deprives O.U. of an additional home game every other year, Oklahoma has been willing to travel to take on quality opposition.  

Having examined the out-of-conference slates of one participant in the Red River Shootout, we now turn to the other half of that grudge match, Texas.  Does U.T.'s regular season contest in the Cotton Bowl hamper the ability of the Burnt Orange to be the visiting team on a tough non-conference squad's home field?  

Is this the mascot of a team that shies away from playing difficult road games?  I think not.  

The Longhorns actually have a long history of playing neutral site games in Dallas, usually against out-of-conference opponents, which dates back more than a quarter-century before the Red River Shootout moved there permanently.  

Texas was playing regular season contests in Dallas as early as 1901.  It was there that the 'Horns hooked up with Vanderbilt six times between 1921 and 1928, as well as with Auburn in 1925.  

As I have noted previously, the Florida Gators are the only N.C.A.A. football team whose scheduling difficulties are precisely analogous to the Bulldogs', as U.F. annually plays both a neutral site conference game and a non-conference in-state rivalry game.  

The Florida Gators:  like us in some respects, not so much in others. . . .  

Nevertheless, other schools face at least some of the challenges Georgia encounters and it is worth examining how other teams handle such hurdles where their out-of-conference slates are concerned.  

Whereas the 'Dawgs have a major neutral site rival (Florida) and a major non-conference rival (Georgia Tech), the 'Horns combined the two from 1929, the year the Texas-Oklahoma game permanently moved to Dallas, to 1995, the year before four Southwest Conference refugees from the Lone Star State merged with the old Big Eight to form the Big 12.  

During that 67-season span, Texas might have been expected to have scheduled a bit more aggressively than Georgia.  Since the 'Horns face limitations similar to, yet less restrictive than, those encountered by the 'Dawgs, one would anticipate that, if Georgia's arguments for scheduling weak non-conference teams held water, U.T. would play tough out-of-conference road games occasionally but only infrequently.  

Instead, we find that the Burnt Orange took a "have gun, will travel" approach worthy of the team's Lone Star State heritage.  Texas played 43 major road games between 1929 and 1995, as compared to the Bulldogs, who have used the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and the series with Georgia Tech as an excuse for not traveling outside the South for a regular season road game since 1965.  

Over the course of that period, Texas made numerous trips to the northeast to take on Harvard at Cambridge in 1931, Temple at Philadelphia in 1949, Boston College at Chestnut Hill in 1974 and 1976, Syracuse at Syracuse in 1992, and Pitt at Pittsburgh in 1994.  

The Longhorns likewise headed west to face Southern Cal at Los Angeles in 1955 and 1967, California at Berkeley in 1961 and 1969, U.C.L.A. at Los Angeles in 1971, Washington at Seattle in 1975, Stanford at Palo Alto in 1985, and Brigham Young at Provo in 1988.  

The Burnt Orange also ventured into what was then Big Eight country to tangle with Missouri at Columbia in 1932, 1979, and 1986, Nebraska at Lincoln in 1933 and 1959, Kansas at Lawrence in 1938, and Colorado at Boulder in 1941, 1989, and 1993.  

Texas was not shy about crossing the imaginary line (since rendered superfluous by Arkansas's defection in 1992) dividing the respective territories of the Southwest and Southeastern Conferences, either, meeting Louisiana State in Baton Rouge in 1935, 1937, 1952, and 1953, Auburn in Auburn in 1983 and 1987, and Mississippi State in Starkville in 1991.  

While in our neck of the woods, the Burnt Orange competed against once and future A.C.C. squads, as well, playing games against North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1948 and 1952, Maryland in College Park in 1960, and Miami in Coral Gables in 1973.  

Finally, since I am agitating for a home and home series between Georgia and Michigan, I believe particular attention ought to be paid to the fact that the Longhorns' 2005 trip to Ohio State was far from being Texas's first foray into Big Ten country.  

The 'Horns faced Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1936, Wisconsin in Madison in 1939, Indiana in Bloomington in 1940, Northwestern in Evanston in 1942, and Purdue in West Lafayette in 1951.  

That's not even counting Texas's contests against future Big Ten member Penn State in State College in 1990 or against eventual Big Ten member Notre Dame in South Bend in 1934, 1954, and 1995.  

One of these days, you're going to be the twelfth member of the Big 10.  Deal with it.  

Even allowing for the fact that Texas had only Oklahoma and Georgia has both Florida and Georgia Tech, the disparity between the Bulldogs' out-of-conference scheduling and the Longhorns' is not justified.  

During the two-thirds of a century in which Texas faced its biggest non-conference rival in an annual neutral site contest, the Longhorns still managed to play numerous road games against significant competition in non-rivalry games.  This includes five actual road games against Big Ten schools and four more against major independents with Big Ten ties.  

During the two-fifths of a century since the Red and Black's last regular season meeting with a Big Ten team in 1965, by contrast, the 'Dawgs have made no road trips to take on major out-of-conference opponents outside the Old Confederacy.  

The motion picture adaptation of Georgia's last road game north of the Mason-Dixon line is now available on D.V.D.  

Georgia faces scheduling challenges tougher than those encountered by Texas, but the gap between the two is not wide enough to explain away the vast difference between the Longhorns' eagerness to play anyone anywhere the Bulldogs' refusal to stray too far from home and hedge.  

Once again, we find that the Georgia athletic administration's excuses for scheduling Division I-AA teams and Sun Belt squads in Sanford Stadium rather than setting up marquee non-conference games, while not altogether invalid, are inadequate to justify the timidity with which the Red and Black's non-league slates have been compiled in my lifetime.  

Now that Damon Evans and Mark Richt have restored Georgia's role as a national player on the college football scene, it is time to go back to scheduling like a top 10 program should.  Let's get Michigan back on the schedule.  

Go 'Dawgs!