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Why I Don't Want Georgia to Play Florida State in Atlanta

This morning, I tried to mention all the mentions we've gotten around these parts in the last couple of days, but I missed a few, so, without further ado, these are they: Blogging the Boys, Every Day Should Be Saturday, Male Pattern Fitness, Stampede Blue, and Sunday Morning Quarterback all made reference to the ESPN posting. Orson Swindle even quoted Susan Sontag, provoking responses which proved that some folks hate Auburn as much as I do and reminded us that, although Orson is a smart guy, he is only the second-smartest person in his marriage.

Also, Brian linked to, and Dave alluded to, my continued fixation on scheduling a Georgia-Michigan series. My thanks go out to all of the foregoing.

We now turn to the matter at hand. Longtime Dawg Sports readers know that I strongly favor keeping the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville in spite of the dramatic success (that's sarcasm, folks) of Il Duce's purely cosmetic efforts to change the game's historic name.

Call it what you want, Il Duce; there's still going to be some property destroyed tonight.

Just because I favor one neutral site series with a Sunshine State team, though, doesn't mean I'm on board for two.

Fanblogs' Kevin Donahue has called our attention to the fact that the Seminoles are looking to schedule more games at neutral sites. Florida State reportedly is "in talks with the Georgia Dome to play a 2008 non-conference opponent in Atlanta."

Donahue continues:

FSU, who has two open slots on its 2008 slate, will likely partner with a network in an attempt to pair the Noles against an BCS opponent with an open date, such as Louisville, Georgia, Tennessee, or South Carolina (in a Bowden-Spurrier matchup).

Straight out of the gate, the first commenter to respond to Donahue's posting wrote that he'd "love to see UGA fill that slot (Richt vs Bowden)." While taking a much more skeptical view of Florida State's move, Brian Cook nevertheless observed that "I'd rather have Georgia-FSU next year in the Georgia Dome than not at all."

The Bulldogs will be playing here in 2008; they'll just be playing a Western Division opponent instead of Florida State.

All right, I get it. Mark Richt was an assistant under Bobby Bowden. The Georgia Dome is right down the road from Athens. The Bulldogs have played there fairly frequently in S.E.C. championship games and in Peach, Chick-fil-A, and Sugar Bowls. It seems like a natural fit. I understand that.

Nevertheless, it's a bad idea.

The major criticism leveled against the Red and Black is that Georgia's scheduling is insular. Since 1965 (though not before), that has been a fair criticism. Now that the Bulldogs are branching out in their non-conference scheduling, what is to be gained by scheduling another A.C.C. team?

The 'Dawgs have two historic rivals from the Atlantic Coast Conference: Clemson and Georgia Tech. Georgia plays the Yellow Jackets every year in an in-state showdown and the Tigers aren't on the schedule nearly often enough for my tastes. Mark Richt is 10-0 against the A.C.C., including beating a conference champion Florida State squad in the Sugar Bowl.

Is it just me, or is this posting starting to look like an S.E.C. travel guide?

There is no upside to adding a game against a team from farther south. In the 21st century, Georgia has become the top program in the S.E.C., winning at a clip unmatched by any other team in the league, yet many college football fans around the country fail to recognize that Coach Richt has not been overshadowed by any of his conference coevals (no, not even Nick Saban) because the 'Dawgs are perceived strictly as a regional, rather than national, power.

That perception will not change unless we change it. Damon Evans has moved our alma mater in that direction in a myriad of ways, but his efforts would be hampered, not bolstered, by putting the Seminoles on the schedule.

Florida State's recruiting efforts in Atlanta would be aided by a game in the Georgia Dome. What doors would such a contest open for the 'Dawgs?

I bear the 'Noles no ill will and, to the extent that their schedule includes (as it often does) teams that I dislike, I wish them well. Perhaps this will be the year for Florida State's resurgence.

Obligatory picture of cheesecake to move traffic.

Until and unless that F.S.U. revival happens, though, Georgia is better off with a program on the rise like Boise State or Oklahoma State than with a program presently in decline. Even if the Seminoles resume their championship form, though, the former-pupil-facing-the-master storyline was done to death prior to the 2003 Sugar Bowl. A rehash of that hype would be as tired and contrived as the annual "Bowden Bowl" melodrama.

The Bulldogs and the Seminoles met in the regular season nine times between 1954 and 1965. They have faced off in the postseason twice since. Historically, Florida State has been less of a rival for Georgia than has Miami; the 'Dawgs have played the 'Canes more often than the 'Noles and Georgia ended the regular season against "The U" five times in the 16 seasons between 1937 and 1952.

The Red and Black need to stay the course, continuing to schedule interesting and attention-getting home-and-home series with Big 12, Pac-10, and (if they will give us a game) Big Ten teams. Georgia's critics argue that the Bulldogs need to get out more. We run the risk of getting Auburned if we don't.

Georgia would reap no rewards from facing another A.C.C. team in a regular season game in Atlanta. If F.S.U. wants to schedule a road trip to the City Too Busy to Hate, that is good for the 'Noles and fine with me, but, when they get here, they should not find Georgia awaiting them in the Georgia Dome.

Go 'Dawgs!