Several Georgia football recruits created a stir this summer when they took to social media from inside the Georgia locker room while sporting crisp, new black Nike jerseys. At the time I frankly didn't think much of it. Georgia has had black jerseys in years past, but Coach Richt simply decided not to wear them. Recruits in past classes have also been photographed in black jerseys without those jerseys making it to the Sanford Stadium turf. This is not news.
What is news was the commentary on the subject today from Athletic Director Greg McGarity, who stated with a fair degree of certainty today that Georgia will wear black jerseys at some point during the 2016 season, at home in Sanford Stadium. McGarity elaborated that the jerseys won't be a surprise, it will be announced beforehand that they're being broken out, and that the game in question will be up to Coach Smart.
Bulldog fans have a range of opinions on this particular alternate uniform option. Some are wholly in favor of the look. Objectively speaking, the black jerseys have a clean aesthetic and are a really sharp looking choice. That being said, their checkered past gives some fans pause, and gives rise to shouts about "fake juice" every time they're mentioned.
I'm not going to rehash the pros and cons of Georgia wearing black jerseys. You're either for it or against it and I won't be changing your mind on the subject. What I'm instead curious about is when those jerseys might see the light of day. The options are as follows:
- Nicholls State, September 10th
- Tennessee, October 1st
- Vanderbilt, October 15th
- Auburn, November 12th
- Louisiana-Lafayette, November 19th
- Georgia Tech, November 26th
It won't be Nicholls State, for a couple of reasons. Foremost of these is that it's doubtful Smart would use that particular psychological booster rocket on the lowly Colonels. But also worth considering is just how hot black jerseys would get in Athens in early September. It's a valid chromatic consideration. I would rule out Louisiana-Lafayette as well because, again, you don't play your trump card when you don't need it.
I doubt seriously that it's the Auburn game. Kirby Smart has been assiduous about avoiding comparisons to Mark Richt since arriving in Athens. Re-enacting one of the crowning moments of the Richt era does not fit that pattern.
The Vanderbilt game will be Homecoming for what feels like the 98th year in a row, which seems like an appropriate time for the new togs. There's also the fact that no one expects Georgia to need much help to beat Vandy, despite the fact that this contest is annually closer that it should be. A little extra energy might come in handy for this one, in other words. So I wouldn't completely rule it out.
Georgia Tech is also an interesting option. Beating your instate rival just like most other years but while wearing a new-look uniform might be a good way to go.
But if I had to lay money on it, I'd go with the Tennessee game. If things go according to Hoyle it could well be a matchup in primetime of teams looking to take control of the SEC East. The Vols are the preseason favorites to win the division, and if they can take care of business against the Gators at home the week before could be 5-0 and ranked in the top 5. If you're going to exorcise the demons of black jerseys past, this would be the time to do it.
Or, again, you could go safe and break those suckers out against a team you're favored over by 11 points. Obviously there are other decisions which will speak more loudly, but Kirby Smart's choice regarding when to go back in black may tell us a little about exactly what kind of a risk-taker he is. The black jerseys are the onside kick of game day attire. When will Kirby Smart call that particular play? Until later . . .