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Go West, Young Men: Forget the Big Ten and Schedule Pac-10 Teams Instead

Recently, I addressed the latest developments in the ongoing deterioration of Big Ten-S.E.C. relations and I was twice told to be less sensitive. Although I believe some sensitivity is warranted (and Cale Self, for one, agrees with me), I have always believed that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, so, when Kanu graciously provided some perspective, I joined in his celebration of college football's regional flavor and acknowledged the following:

One thing that has become clear to me in the course of all this interconference squabbling is that Pac-10 fans . . . generally are easier fellows with whom to deal.

On more than one occasion, a Pac-10 blogger has written something with which I disagreed and I have written a response expressing my contrary view. Virtually without fail, I have gotten a cordial, reasonable response, which almost always led to increased mutual understanding and sometimes even the discovery of common ground.

In light of Kanu's ecumenical spirit regarding such matters, I thought I would expound upon that point further; rather than point the finger at some Big Ten fans to illustrate what they are doing wrong, I thought I should follow the advice of at least one Big Ten fan and attempt to illustrate how to do it the right way.

This one's for you, Kanu.

When I argued that there was no East Coast bias, Bruins Nation's Nestor respectfully disagreed, which led to a lengthy exchange of views between Pac-10 and S.E.C. bloggers, ultimately resulting in something resembling consensus between kindred spirits on opposite (though not necessarily opposing) coasts.

In the course of that conversation, USCLink stated that he made it a point to root against the S.E.C., which caused me to accuse him of having a West Coast bias. USCLink likewise responded respectfully and a productive exchange again ensued.

When the now (regrettably) defunct Cal blog Tightwad Hill charged that "the Mighty SEC . . . undoubtedly [would] lead the weenie list again" where out-of-conference scheduling was concerned, I fired back angrily, but Pac-10 bloggers did not respond in kind. 82 Sluggo Win's Jonathan Tu asked a serious question and Tightwad took a measured tone, provoking a more cordial retort from me, which once again led to an insightful exchange between bloggers.

This recurring pattern was seen again when my final BlogPoll ballot drew questions from DCTrojan and BCSBusters, after which an initially heated exchange commenced and ultimately generated fruitful debate. Similarly, when Addicted to Quack's Dave took Les Miles to task for his inflammatory offseason remarks, my reply provoked a calmer clarification of Dave's views. Another discussion ensued.

This discussion didn't even involve any mockery of Oregon's uniforms. Well, O.K., maybe a little.

Such instances abound. When Georgia met Oregon State in the 2006 College World Series, Building the Dam and Dawg Sports handled the competition with class. When The Band Is Out On The Field's Kevin articulated his criteria for organic success, I tried to build on his ideas. When Dave addressed Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen's bold declaration regarding the Rose Bowl, I used his thoughts as the basis for suggesting a compromise. When Dave analyzed his own team, I gave him credit for stating his case more cogently than some national commentators I could name.

In light of all of the foregoing, my opinion on the matter of coast-to-coast interconference relations comes down to this:

The Pac-10 and the S.E.C. share neither geographic proximity nor common bowl tie-ins. For all the attention paid to the split national title of 2003 and Auburn's omission from the mix in 2004, we in the South aren't any more singleminded about national championship arguments than other college football fans, and, besides . . . such debates are part of what makes the sport great.

So what gives, folks? Why does this feud get all the hype? To quote a Los Angelino with my surname, "Can't we all just get along?"

Predictably, good faith attempts at answering this thorny question followed.

Yes, I am working up to a point here; bear with me.

We are left, I believe, with good reason to be grateful for the increase in instances of cross-sectional scheduling between Pac-10 and S.E.C. squads. Certainly, Georgia fans are excited about this fall's trip to Tempe, which is why the Dawgosphere is letting you know how to get tickets to the Arizona State game and what to do when you get there. (Contrary to what Doug Gillett believes, there are more and better reasons for making the trek to the Copper State than the Arizona State and Georgia co-eds . . . not that they shouldn't be reason enough for you single fellows.)

The increasingly cordial relations between Pac-10 and S.E.C. fans (especially in comparison to the ongoing troubles plaguing the S.E.C.'s dealings with the Big Ten), coupled with the level of excitement generated by the Arizona State-Georgia series, strongly suggest that the Red and Black should continue looking westward for future out-of-conference opponents. Since the movement to get Michigan on Georgia's schedule officially is defunct (and since Midwestern teams generally seem disinclined to play the Classic City Canines), we in Bulldog Nation need to be examining options such as U.C.L.A.

The Bulldogs and the Bruins have history with one another---Georgia ended the 1942 season against U.C.L.A. in the Rose Bowl and opened the 1983 campaign against a Rick Neuheisel-quarterbacked U.C.L.A. squad in Athens---and both the reaction of Bulldog Nation to the prospect of a Rose Bowl berth last season and the enthusiasm of the Bruin faithful over their team's 2008 date with Tennessee offer some hint of the sort of excitement a Georgia-U.C.L.A. home-and-home series would generate.

(By the way, I would encourage you to read the comments following the foregoing posting regarding the Tennessee-U.C.L.A. game, in which Bruins Nation anticipates that the showdown with the visiting S.E.C. squad will be "the first in a long line of great games" on "one helluva Labor Day" which will provide "exposure" thanks to "this move to get the program under the national spotlight." The only comment in the entire thread that indicates anything other than eager anticipation at facing a legitimate foe from the Southeast is this bit of benign braggadocio, which contains not so much as the faintest hint of the sorts of childish and obnoxious animadversions about education systems, economic hardships, and military conquest to which we routinely are subjected by some of the more vocal folks in Big Ten country; to wit: "Looks like we get to Punk 2 teams from Tennessee." That, of course, is inoffensive garden-variety fan trash talk, to which no reasonable person could take umbrage, yet not two hours passed between the expression of that sentiment and the posting of a respectful examination of the "very talented" Volunteers, with which another Bruin fan concurred. In short, we have every reason to believe that the interactions between the Georgia and U.C.L.A. fans would be hallmarked by fierce yet classy competition, which is as it should be.)

Unless, of course, somebody brings up this yutz, then all bets are off.

If all that isn't enough to convince you that a Georgia-U.C.L.A. football series is a good idea, this sure should be. I, for one, am prepared to run the risk that the local ladies will prove distracting to our players in order to pair up the two teams most likely to feature as attractive a combination of wholesome co-eds as you are apt to see outside of an Ole Miss intra-squad scrimmage conducted with several sororities in attendance. (Contrast that with, say, a match-up between Arizona State and Florida, many of whose gals appear to be more than a little on the raunchy side . . . which, come to think of it, may explain why Doug is so looking forward to the Tempe trip.)

It's a natural fit---Georgia and U.C.L.A., that is, not Doug Gillett and raunchy women (Doug just has bad luck with nice girls)---which is why the subject has come up before both in the blogosphere and, apparently, in the athletic offices, as well. Bruin fans respect Georgia and Bulldog fans respect U.C.L.A.'s program in return. This is good for Georgia, good for U.C.L.A., good for the Pac-10, good for the S.E.C., and good for college football.

While I know of at least one fan who will be thrilled if such a series comes to pass, we won't be gearing up fully for getting the Bruins on the Bulldogs' schedule right away, since Georgia is pursuing a fourth straight national gymnastics title and U.C.L.A. is bound for its third consecutive final four. Once the winter sports are done and spring is completely sprung, though, SB Nation's Georgia and U.C.L.A. weblogs will be teaming up to find a way to further the growing trend towards transcontinental interconference understanding by persuading the universities in Athens and in Westwood to square off on the gridiron in the near future.

Go 'Dawgs!