Road to championship for UGA doesn’t have to go through Eugene

Seven games a year in Sanford Stadium is part of Greg McGarity's plan for UGA football. (University of Georgia)

Seven games a year in Sanford Stadium is part of Greg McGarity's plan for UGA football. (University of Georgia)

OK, so I’m not going to pretend I can get excited — or even moderately interested — in the Dogs playing Charleston Southern.

Still, I’m fully on board with Greg McGarity’s new Florida-esque scheduling philosophy of making Tech the only BCS-level nonconference opponent regularly appearing on Georgia’s football schedule and trying to have seven home games in Athens most seasons.

I didn’t come to that view easily. I used to be one of those fans who complained about yawn-inducing home games against schools with directional names. I longed to see Georgia give up a diet of cupcakes and upgrade its nonconference schedule to include regular-season games against the likes of Texas or Michigan or that school that doesn’t like to be called Southern Cal.

Damon Evans cured me of that.

In a bid to build a national “brand” for Georgia, Evans scheduled home-and-home series with Colorado, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Oregon and even Louisville.

The trips proved popular with fans. A large, vocal contingent in red and black actually took away the home advantage when the Dogs played at Arizona State, and I know a lot of fans, including my son, are looking forward to the trip to Boulder this week.

But the wear and tear of long-distance travel wasn’t a hit with Mark Richt, who noted this week: “It sounds like a good idea and it’s kind of romantic I guess. It seems like everybody would enjoy doing that. I’m sure a lot of fans enjoy taking some of those trips, but it is tough on your team, your players and coaches.”

Indeed, the week after that 2008 trip to Arizona State the Dogs came out flatfooted in what was being billed as the game of the decade and quickly fell behind 31-0 to the Crimson Tide.

Then there was last year’s brutal schedule that saw Georgia playing three BCS nonconference foes, including the opener at Okie State. Meanwhile, Florida was facing the likes of Charleston Southern, Troy and Florida International, and Bama was feasting on Florida International, North Texas and Tennessee Chattanooga on its way to the BCS title.

True, the Tide also played Virginia Tech, but they don’t have a regular BCS nonconference rival on their schedule like the Dogs do.

So one of the first things McGarity did was get out of the Oregon deal. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s too late to do anything about Louisville, a matchup that doesn’t excite anyone anymore, if it ever did.

One of the arguments in favor of scheduling these regular season games outside the Southeast was to boost recruiting. But as Richt said this week, “Playing that kind of game does draw attention. It does get you on the other side of the country, but do we really recruit over there? We really don’t.”

As for Evans’ idea of building the brand, which is more likely to do that, playing a team on the West Coast or winning the SEC and contending for the BCS national championship? As McGarity put it, “I think winning and running your program the right way is what promotes your brand.”

Plus, McGarity indicated he’s still open to playing a Southeastern nonconference rival like Clemson every few years and even possibly a once-every-decade high profile game against someone like Texas or Michigan.

Actually, I’d like to see Georgia go one step further in that regard and put the rivalry with Clemson on some sort of permanent rotating basis, with the two teams playing home-and-home, taking two or three years off, and then doing it again.

I especially like the idea of seven home games a year, too.

Bottom line, though, is that no matter how boring those games against the Charleston Southerns are, they’re a necessary building block nowadays in putting your program in the best position to compete at the highest level. As McGariy says, if the Dogs can win out in their SEC schedule and beat Tech, they’ll likely be in the national championship conversation. Any year.

Of course, mastering that SEC schedule looms as something of an obstacle for Georgia right now. But that’s another discussion entirely. …

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167 comments Add your comment

Bryan G.

September 30th, 2010
11:15 am

I think the schedules UF, Auburn, and Alabama have played are embarrassing. I’m not sure I like McGarity’s idea on the schedule. Just seems like a cheap short cut.

Does This Mean ??

September 30th, 2010
11:17 am

Does this mean we will start having the week before Florida off ???

UGA Insider

September 30th, 2010
11:28 am

Oregon wanted out of the deal as bad as UGA did. They will have a brand new schedule starting next season and their in-conference games will be much stronger and their travel itinerary’s will be tougher as well. My contacts in Eugene say this was an amicable split but UGA is getting all the bad press for backing out. I wish McGarity would come out and explain more.

Big Dawg

September 30th, 2010
11:29 am

I’m open to something new: new recruiting philosophy (or at least a new way of coaching up our recruits), new strength and conditioning program, a new sense of enthusiasm, new intensity, a new OC, a new HC…whatever!

The recent direction UGA has been going is obviously not working.

SatillaDawg

September 30th, 2010
11:31 am

Go Dawgs!

I don’t care who we play, as long as we produce good football teams.

Now, let’s get this year’s team back on track.

Sic ‘Em, Dawgs! Beat Colorado!

extrapoint

September 30th, 2010
11:34 am

Look at the Big Ten last week, cupcakes across the broad and it’s the fourth week of the season. Ohio State also played one the week before. Did they drop in the rankings after playing no name schools their first three out of four games. NO! Rememeber how they stuck it to Georgia the year we were No. 1 when we didn’t blow out Georgia Southern in our opener. Dropped from first and good-bye season. Even Notre Dame threw in the towel and dumbed down their schedule. These schools want to play for millions and prestige at the end of the year. That’s how you maintain your top ranking while playing cupcakes.

Newman

September 30th, 2010
11:34 am

Just block and tackle.

Cobb Dawg

September 30th, 2010
11:35 am

I agree with McGarity — so long as you don’t have so many creampuffs on your schedule that it starts to wreak havoc with the BCS computer rankings (assuming UGA ever works its way into that discussion again.) Probably a pretty fine line. But if it worked at Florida, let’s give it a try.

championships vs. red panties

September 30th, 2010
11:35 am

anyone have any other questions about the differences between ADs?

PNWDawg

September 30th, 2010
11:37 am

I just don’t like the idea that playing easier schedules is how you win a championship. I though champions were willing to line up against anyone and not complain about jet lag. “We don’t want to play Alabama cuz were tired.” Give me a break.

MURPHY

September 30th, 2010
11:38 am

Why not schedule an off week after playing an Oregon,Colorado,Louisville? Wouldnt that make sense? I personally like the far away games like this and I am opposed to dropping them. I was really pumped about going to Oregon.

MURPHY

September 30th, 2010
11:39 am

But with my last post-Im not going to argue with the success McGarity had at UF.

gomdawg

September 30th, 2010
11:40 am

If Boise State can play a weak schedule so can we. I’m all for the National Rating is the name of the game . DAMN GOING WEST.

38 Yardline Dawg

September 30th, 2010
11:42 am

We don’t have to schedule teams on the left coast to have interesting matchups with BCS teams. I even can understand the case for playing some creampuffs, but make them more interesting…say like NOTRE DAME!

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38 Yardline Dawg

September 30th, 2010
11:43 am

BTW, if Bobo is not replaced by the end of this season, I will not be buying my season tickets again. WHO’S WITH ME?

joe mac

September 30th, 2010
11:47 am

Whatever! This philosophy is pathetic as is Richt’s gripping and moaning a out.

Man up and get better instead of running from things.

Richt has blamed that 08 Bama loss on that Arizona St. trip so much im about to vomit. That Bama loss was a result of one thing and one thing only; a well prepared, experrly coached team versus the exact opposite!

Richt has become a kool-aid salesman leaning on EXCUSES rather than reasons to explain away the vast weaknesses in his sprogram. Now, UNFORTUNATELY, he has a stinking GATOR to powder his butt on these issues.

PATHETIC!

MURPHY

September 30th, 2010
11:47 am

Would like to see us play Miami,Fsu,North Carolina,West Va teams like this.

SoCal Dawg

September 30th, 2010
11:49 am

This is a tough one. I would love to see us play USC, Ohio St.,Michigan, Texas, ND but we play in the SEC. We need some cup cakes in order to recuperate. If we played in the Big East I would say we have enough cupcakes so bring on the big boys but we already play the big boys on a regular basis in the SEC. Simple fact is if we play for BCS Championships we will play the “big boy” outside of the SEC.

MURPHY

September 30th, 2010
11:55 am

Going to Ohio State would be great! Been to Texas and Michigan-not to much fun. Oklahoma or Nebraska is a good time

MURPHY

September 30th, 2010
12:00 pm

38 Yard Line Dawg,

I wouldnt do that. You will regret not renewing your tickets.Unless you have a ton of money to buy your way back in you wont get them for a very long time. Believe it or not there is actually a pretty long waiting list now for new season tickets

robodawg

September 30th, 2010
12:00 pm

Boulder, Colorado, is beautiful in October. Done right, a trip like that can be good medicine for the team. If you let it just add to the drudgery, you’ve already lost. Playing football should be fun.

RunningDog

September 30th, 2010
12:05 pm

What’s the point of rooting on your team when half of the home games are tomato cans. I love college football, but the constant arguments against strong competition, traveling and playoff is what I can’t understand about many advocates of our sport. Sure it’s great to win, but are you a tough guy when your 20-years-old beating up on 12-year-olds. Travel didn’t lead to the loss in Starkville.

uga_b

September 30th, 2010
12:07 pm

Maybe we should opt out of our in-conference games too. That seems to be oure problem. This was a weak message in a year with a weak home schedule, weak attendance, and weak timeslots. I can’t help but think this will affect their revenue.

I was really excited about the Oregon trip. Thanks UGA.

Coachdawg 2000

September 30th, 2010
12:07 pm

Murphy-
If we could sked off week it would possibly work but the SEC controls the conference sked. and we typically play the chix in week 2 and any other week is too taxing. Some of yall forget that these long trips cut into classtime(means late night tutoring sessions to pay catchup)and cuts into sunday film study and other off the field duties. I would love to see us play Notre Dame or clempson but we play Tech every year where as Bammer can handpick all of their out-of-conference games.

ARdawg

September 30th, 2010
12:08 pm

Thats all well and good MaGarity but there is another drawback on that philosophy. If the team isn’t any good, being in the NC conversation does neither the team, school or the fans any good and certainly doesn’t win any championships. At UGA’s current rate, the Ga Southerns and Charleston Southerns likely will beat us.

Fix the problems and build a championship teams. This way it doesn’t matter who you play.

robodawg

September 30th, 2010
12:09 pm

This is a tough one. You do need those directional schools to give your program confidence and build your depth emptying the bench. It’s a step above a scrimmage because the result counts (and your highlights get to be seen on Sportscenter).

Opening the season on the road last year, with an inexperienced QB, definitely started the season off on the wrong foot. It was just not the right year to be doing that. And, you can’t know years in advance when it will be the right year to do that.

That said, I hope McGarity doesn’t overdo it. An occasional trip to Arizona or Colorado ain’t bad. There’s probably too much at stake in a matchup with a perennial top 10 team like Oregon. (Man, that was something to look forward to, though!) But unranked BCS conference teams that you should beat seem okay to me. Maybe not every year, but every 2 or 3 years would be fine with me. (Of course, you don’t know when you schedule ‘em how good those teams will be — who knew Okie State would peak last year?)

If at all possible, we need to play them in a soft spot in the SEC schedule — say, before homecoming week or before an off week — and not until October, when your team has had some time to gel.

Coachdawg 2000

September 30th, 2010
12:12 pm

It was nice to spank Okie State in ‘07, Boise State ‘05, and Clemson in 02-03,AzSt.-’08 but we how bad did it suck to lose to Okie st. in ‘09? If we had played Joe’s Horseshoe Academy then we go 9-4 instead of 8-5. Having an early season loss can suck the wind out of your sails early.

ATL Bama Fan

September 30th, 2010
12:13 pm

I love it! When all else fails to fool yourselves about UGA becoming a lower tier SEC team blame Bama. Of course the blackout failed cause the doggies had jet lag from the week before, not because UGA and Richt rely on costumes and gimmicks rather than hard work to win football games. And of course the reason Bama won the NC and UGA didn’t was because of Bama’s “easy” schedule compared to UGA’s. Just pay attention to FL Intl., etc. and ignore the slate of ranked teams Bama had to get through. It’s looking like UGA fans are learning from your coach; put the blame on anyone other than who deserves it. What a pathetic, classless school.

ARdawg

September 30th, 2010
12:14 pm

@Runningdawg

Good post. AZ ST didn’t cause us to have our azz handed to us by Bama either. Richt’s grasping at straws to deflect his inability at coaching

ARdawg

September 30th, 2010
12:17 pm

robodawg

We should’ve beaten OK ST like a drum last year even with a Fr QB. As the season revealed, OK ST was over hyped and just wasn’t that good

MURPHY

September 30th, 2010
12:18 pm

Coach Dawg,

A schools A.D. can make schedule request about open weeks. Just ask Jeremy Foley about always getting that week off before the GA game.Spurrier and Foley made those request yearly.

ATL Bama Fan

September 30th, 2010
12:24 pm

I would like to thank the UGA fans with class that can see through this blame others mentality that has swept through the school, coaching staff and fan base lately. I wish y’all were the majority.

MURPHY

September 30th, 2010
12:26 pm

Atl Bama Fan,

I dont blame playing ASU as the reason we lost to Bama. We were outcoached and out player period… No excuse can be made for that.

aaron in arizona

September 30th, 2010
12:28 pm

extrapoint—– I agree w/you. You hit the nail on the head.

I remember, over the past 2 seasons, we were actually being “punished” in the preseason rankings/on espn because of our schedule. I remember reading and hearing that due to our schedule being seen as more difficult that we would not fair as well as others w/easier schedules. We, as Bulldogs, were being congratulated on such a schedule but at the same time being ranked lower, by those rankings on how teams will end the season.

However, I can hear many grandparents saying, “Well, if the other kids would run and jump off a cliff, would you do it, too?” In this instance, yes! It seems we have to, secondary noone is complaining in the media/fans come championship game time that the two teams playing are being heckled/penalized for who they played in September. Strength of schedule does not count for as much as it did in the beginning of bcs system. GO DAWGS!!!!!

ATL Bama Fan

September 30th, 2010
12:35 pm

Murphy,

It’s fans like you that I appreciate and why I made the 2nd post. I don’t mind having a big ol’ target on our back this year; that’s what a NC does to you. But, it’s getting very old to have so many UGA fans and bloggers (looking at you, Mr.King. I actually used to enjoy reading you), blame or deflect blame from UGA’s current situation onto Bama’s past success. Take care of your own house before you blame others’. And, make it to the SEC CG and take Bama down there on the field, where it should be done, instead of trying to take us down in blogs.

Keep Coach Richt

September 30th, 2010
12:37 pm

Hope Coach Richt is around to see it. Here’s why I think he will.

http://thesportsdebates.com/2010/09/29/the-fire-mark-richt-debate-verdict/

MURPHY

September 30th, 2010
12:41 pm

ATL Bama Fan,

Everyone hates a winner. Must be nice to have a program everyone else strives to be like. Good luck on sat but be very carefull next week in against S.C-They are ready for Bama.

ca dawg

September 30th, 2010
12:49 pm

@newman: best thing i’ve ever read on this discussion board.

btw i love the headline, bill. i laughed my rear end off when i read it.

ca dawg

September 30th, 2010
12:57 pm

@ ATL BAMA FAN: i definitely think it’s incendiary and overstating the matter to call my school and team “pathetic” and “classless” because of what a few fans do or say (i’m sure you’ll admit that bama has got some idiotic fans, too), but i have to agree that bama beat us in ‘08 because they were a better football team and handled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. anyone who would blame that loss on traveling doesn’t know very much.

for what it’s worth, i think it’s good for the SEC and good for college football when alabama is thriving. hope you put one on the gators this weekend.

Ted Striker

September 30th, 2010
12:58 pm

I could do without seeing UGA/Tech every single year. The game means more to Tech fans (regardless of age) than it does to UGA fans under the age of 50.

MURPHY

September 30th, 2010
1:07 pm

Would be cool to open up with Tech. Be just like playing Charleston Southern

258DAWG

September 30th, 2010
1:11 pm

I thin its absolutely brillant! if Bama and UF do it, why shouldn’t we.
It also gets your schedule ready for the playoff system that we all know is coming soon.
Bottom line is there is no team in any conference in the country that plays a harder SOS than the SEC teams so feel free to schedule teams equal to the Washington St, Kansas St, Iowa St, Washington, Baylor, Northwestern, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Duke, Virginia, Maryland, Wake, Boston College, Texas A&M, ND and everyone on there scedule and the whole Big East. Along with all the other chumps that fall into this category. I know I have forgot a few but you all know who you are!
GATA the rest of the way! Go Dawgs!

SadSawg

September 30th, 2010
1:28 pm

““I think winning and running your program the right way is what promotes your brand.”
*********************************
Bill, I bet that McGarity remark made Richt’s stomach flutter . . .

SadSawg

September 30th, 2010
1:40 pm

UGA already has more annual, border-rivalrys than most teams (SC, UT, UF, AU), plus Tech. That’s 5 teams that list UGA 1st or 2nd as their “most-love-to-beat” team.

If McGarity gets us back in the SEC picture (I don’t trust Richt to do it), the “Brand” crap takes care of itself, no matter who we play OCC.

Irrelevant

September 30th, 2010
1:44 pm

It must be noted that UGA is irrelevant in football in the SEC or any where going forward.

Just like it has been posted numerous times and as a prominent national sport’s writer posted yesterday. UGA fans have unrealistic expectations and are out of touch with reality because of 2 or 3 seasons that occurred 30 years ago when H. Walker was playing there.

For you no-brainers who think that scheduling patty cake teams will enhance UGA’s chances of playing for a championship should think it through more thoroughly. The Gators and Bama can get away with it for a certain amount of time because they have recruited the players and coaches that are recognized nationally as some, if not the best, in the country. UGA can’t say that. UGA has not proven themselves the last 3 or 4 years. UGA is NOT a credible championship contender SEC or nationally.

The UGA fans think alot more of their program than sports writers and coaches around the country. And believe it or not, the writers and coaches opinions are the one that counts most since they vote the polls.

You UGA fans can sit around and believe what you’ve been told by the UGA AD that the cancellation of the series with Oregon was a mutual decision if want. However, I guarantee you the rest of the country doesn’t see it that way. Especially since McGarity immediately broadcasts his scheduling philosopy of patty cake teams to fill out the schedule.

ARdawg

September 30th, 2010
1:49 pm

Irrelevant,

Wow, you just set the entire Bulldog Nation straight, didn’t you? Did your mother have any children that lived?

Andy

September 30th, 2010
1:50 pm

I think McGarity is probably right. Where is the incentive for an SEC team to go out and play a bunch of good non-conference teams? There is none, and until there is, doing the best we can within our conference should be our primary goal, even if it means playing a few more warm-up games. Clearly the formula has worked for FL and AL. It’s not like we’re Boise St. or something, who is out there trying to prove that they are good despite playing in a nobody conference. We are in the best conference, we just have to prove we are the best team in that conference (maybe next year?). It would be nice to play all the best teams and beat them all, but that is not going to allow us to win SEC championships or have a shot at the national championship under the current system.

RA

September 30th, 2010
1:51 pm

Check the SEC schedule.

Ten teams have 7 home games this year. Georgia has only 6, and Auburn has 8.

I like the change.

James

September 30th, 2010
1:59 pm

McGarity hasn’t done ANYTHING to help Georgia THIS year. He seems to have his focus on 2015. Hello, it’s 2010!

McGarity’s 1st 2 snafus:
1- Not getting AJ Green’s suspension reduced or thrown out
2- Not coming out already, for recruiting purposes if nothing else, and saying, Mark Richt will be the coach at Georgia in 2011, regardless of how 2010 turns out. McGarity’s “tough guy” stance on not supporting his head coach, is killing recruiting.