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Why the 2013 Season Opener Between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers Should be Moved to Thursday Night

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has suggested moving the Tigers' 2013 college football season opener to Labor Day night, but the Georgia Bulldogs' athletic director has a better idea: play the game on Thursday night, instead.

Dabo Swinney once again has offered an interesting suggestion regarding the Georgia-Clemson rivalry.
Dabo Swinney once again has offered an interesting suggestion regarding the Georgia-Clemson rivalry.
Kevin C. Cox

As Senator Blutarsky has noted, Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney caused quite a stir (and not for the first time, either) regarding the scheduling of a game between his team and the Georgia Bulldogs. Now that the college football offseason is upon us, there is much buzz surrounding the highly-anticipated renewal of the rivalry between the Classic City Canines and the Fort Hill Felines to start an autumn that could re-establish the Red and Black as an SEC East dynasty.

On this occasion, Coach Swinney suggested that the game could be moved from Saturday to Monday for a Labor Day night showdown. Though there is precedent for such a move, it makes little sense for the Bulldogs to shorten their preparation time for the following weekend’s showdown with the South Carolina Gamecocks by two days, so Greg McGarity and Michael Adams quickly nixed the notion, though, as the good Senator picked up on, the former floated out an intriguing alternative:

McGarity scoffed at the notion of moving the game to Monday.

“That’s not an option, even if it was an option,” McGarity said. “There’s been no discussion about that at all.”

Now a more realistic possibility, for Georgia at least, would be moving the Clemson game to an earlier date, say Thursday, Aug. 29, or Friday the 30th. The Bulldogs would then get the benefit of having the college football world’s undivided attention while also enjoying an extra day or two of preparation for the Gamecocks.

“I think that would make much more sense,” McGarity said.

Yes, I know Dr. Adams has declared that football is a weekend-only sport, but, obviously, he’s simply wrong about that, as evidenced by the frequency with which the ESPN family of networks airs midweek MAC contests, Labor Day night affrays, and traditional Thanksgiving Day showdowns. Besides, who cares what Il Duce thinks? He won’t be the University of Georgia president by the time this game is played, anyway. (Granted, I won’t be a sports blogger by then, either, but I’ll still be a Bulldog fan this fall.)

Besides, the game is taking place by the shores of Lake Hartwell, so this has no impact on our longstanding (and sensible) policy of not playing Thursday night games in Sanford Stadium. Since we’ll be traveling to their house, what matters is whether the Country Gentlemen are willing to play a regular-season football game on a Thursday night . . . and they are. (Heck, their in-state rivalry game used to be played on “Big Thursday”.) In the last eight years, the Tigers have participated in six such autumn outings (and, for what it’s worth, Thursday nights typically have not been kind to Clemson).

You know who else routinely plays Thursday night games? South Carolina, that’s who. Since Steve Spurrier arrived in Columbia in 2005, the Garnet and Black have opened the season on a Thursday night before facing Georgia in the second week of the season four times. Obviously, that is not the reason for the Gamecocks’ recent success against the Bulldogs---South Carolina beat Georgia in 2007 and in 2011 without any such advantage, and the ‘Cocks demolished the ‘Dawgs in last fall’s midseason meeting---but an extra two days of practice time certainly can’t hurt, particularly in a series as historically and recently close as this one. The Palmetto State Poultry have enjoyed that advantage more than once in the last decade; if such an option is available to the Classic City Canines, I say we should take it.

For what it’s worth, roughly one-fourth of all the football games Georgia and Clemson have played against one another have been played on days other than Saturday. In the first 62 series meetings between the Bulldogs and the Tigers, 16 have been played on weekdays, taking place once on a Monday, once on a Wednesday, ten times on Thursdays, and four times on Fridays, with four of those Thursday meetings occurring on Thanksgiving Day. Contrary to Dr. Adams’s mistaken opinion, a Thursday or Friday night football game between the Red and Black and the Orange and Purple would represent not a deviation from college football tradition, but a confirmation of it.

Get on the phone, Greg. Let’s make this happen.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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