When I learned from Senator Blutarsky that North Texas was slated to play Georgia between the hedges on August 31, 2013, I immediately thought of the renewal of the Bulldogs’ series with Clemson.
As someone who agrees with Streit that we need to revive the rivalry with Clemson, I was thrilled when Damon Evans announced that the old foes would meet in 2013 and 2014. That agreement was reached in 2005, when my son was two and a half years old, but, as soon as I read about it, I quickly did the math and told my wife that, since the boy would be ten the next time the ‘Dawgs played by the shores of Lake Hartwell, he and I were going. My son knows that road trip is planned; anytime he hears Clemson mentioned, he comments on the fact that we will be going to see the Red and Black play in Memorial Stadium in a few years.
I had assumed, though, that the two teams would open the 2013 and 2014 seasons against one another. After all, the last time Georgia and Clemson met, in 2002 and 2003, the Bulldogs and the Tigers squared off at the start of the autumn. Historical trends certainly support the notion that it is wise for the Red and Black to begin the fall by facing the Orange and Purple; the last four times the Classic City Canines kicked off the campaign against the Fort Hill Felines (in 1946, 1982, 2002, and 2003), the ‘Dawgs went a combined 46-5, attended three Sugar Bowls, won three S.E.C. championships and two Eastern Division titles, and finished in the A.P. top seven four times. That’s a good omen if ever there was one.
As it turns out, though, Georgia will be getting the 2013 season underway against the Mean Green instead of the Country Gentlemen. Intrigued, I took a look at the Bulldogs’ tentative 2013 schedule and found Clemson slated to be the Red and Black’s first road date on September 21, the week after the ‘Dawgs host South Carolina and the week before they welcome Alabama between the hedges.
For the moment, Clemson is penciled in as the first game for 2014, although Georgia’s non-A.C.C. out-of-conference opponents have yet to be determined. I, like my colleague FSUncensored, am obsessed with scheduling, so I got to thinking about the arrangement of our slate, and I thought back to something Nick Saban said a while ago:
One of the things I think would be more beneficial to our league in doing that and, again, this is kind of coming from the Big 10, we didn't start the Big 10 season until like September 20, the fourth week of the season.
We played our three non-conference games right off the bat, all right, which I think is an advantage because if you play a good opponent and you don't have success, your team can continue to improve and you can prove in those three games before you come into league play.
Typically, I am not one to follow the lead of the Big Ten, a conference that brags about the academic reputations of its member institutions yet lacks the basic math skills to realize that (a) you can’t call a conference the "Big Ten" if it has eleven teams (there’s a reason why the "Big 8" became the "Big 12" and the "Pac-8" became the "Pac-10") and (b) you can’t play a nine-game conference schedule if you have eleven teams. Upon this point, though, I believe the fine folks from the Midwest may be onto something.
Why not go ahead and get the non-conference slate out of the way first and build up to all-important S.E.C. play? If you wanted to follow Bill Snyder’s philosophy of "stair-stepping into your season," you could start with a Division I-AA team, then play a Sun Belt team, then play a lower-tier B.C.S. conference team, then play an up-and-coming mid-major or a legitimate B.C.S. conference opponent before beginning S.E.C. play.
Although the league boasts many heavyweights, the conference is not without its bottom-dwellers, so there are some soft spots in the S.E.C. slate; it isn’t as though running a gauntlet of eight straight conference outings would be tantamount to visiting Baton Rouge or Gainesville every Saturday. Besides, moving the non-conference games to the front of the schedule would serve the highly desirable functions of getting the Georgia Tech game out of the way early and shifting the Auburn game back to the end of the year where it belongs.
To me, that makes a lot more sense than playing Tennessee Tech in November. What do y’all think?