Whenever talk of Georgia’s traditional football rivals comes up, I like to point out that there was a time not so long ago when the rivalry with the Clemson Tigers was as big as, if not bigger than, the annual game in Jacksonville or even the in-state battle with the Yellow Jackets. Then conference scheduling difficulties made it no longer possible for the Dogs and Tigers to meet every year — a definite loss for the two fan bases of the neighboring schools.
When Georgia and Clemson do play, it’s more than just your typical nonconference game. So as a longtime proponent of playing Clemson more than just a couple of times per decade, I was pleased to be tipped off by the Senator to an idea Tigers coach Dabo Swinney has about livening up spring practice by emulating the NFL and having Georgia and Clemson play an exhibition game.
Talking with the Charleston Post and Courier, Swinney noted that in spring practice players “get tired of going against each other” and suggested, “Let’s go play Georgia. Don’t you think that could generate some good money with all the Clemson fans and Georgia fans? Let’s split the gate down the middle.”
I like the concept of a spring exhibition game. A lot. In fact, I’d like it even if it weren’t Clemson, but considering the two schools’ athletic history and close proximity to each other, I think the Tigers would be the perfect opponent for such a game.
Of course, it should be noted that Swinney may not be all that serious about this. And the money angle probably has more appeal to Clemson, which is currently running athletic deficits, than to UGA, which sits atop a fat $60 million surplus. But the Dogs could always make their side of the game a charity thing.
The likelihood of injuries wouldn’t seem to be much greater than in an intrasquad game. In fact, just about the only downside I can think of to an exhibition like this is that even agreeing ahead of time to play second- and third-stringers, the full roster wouldn’t get as much playing time as it does when you divide up the Dogs into the Red and Black teams.
But the excitement generated by playing another team would certainly get the players revved up more. And such a match would more closely resemble the pressures of a real game and perhaps provide a more accurate picture who which players are really ready for prime time.
Where to play such a game? I suppose the easiest thing would be to make it at least a two-year deal and play home-and-home in Athens and Clemson. Or maybe this would be a good opportunity for the two programs to play a game in Atlanta other than in a Chick-fil-A bowl.
Speaking of Georgia-Clemson, the two schools next are scheduled to play each other in 2013 in Clemson and 2014 in Athens, and T Kyle King believes the week before the Dogs play South Carolina would be the perfect spot on the schedule. As he points out, back in the Vince Dooley days, Georgia routinely played the Tigers and Gamecocks back-to-back. T Kyle likes the idea of a “throwback” schedule like that. Sounds good to me.
But back to the spring. What do you think about Georgia playing a spring exhibition game, against Clemson or anyone else? Are there compelling reasons not to do something along those lines? Feel free to comment, vote in the poll or do both.