Dumping Georgia-Auburn rivalry would be bad for college football

georgia-auburn rivalryAs I’m sure you’ve seen, UGA athletic director Greg McGarity talked with reporters Wednesday about the possibility of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry between Georgia and Auburn falling victim to the revised schedule the expanded SEC is likely to undertake after this coming season.

Basically, what it comes down to is this: The permanent cross-divisional rivalries could easily be maintained if the SEC went to a nine-game conference schedule as other conferences, including the ACC, are doing. But SEC athletic directors prefer to stick with eight conference games in order to maintain more scheduling flexibility (meaning they can schedule the occasional nonconference BCS game and still feast on at least two cupcakes per season).

That’s an even bigger factor for teams like Georgia, Florida and South Carolina that have BCS in-state rivals permanently locked in on their schedule.

The future of the Georgia-Auburn rivalry is endangered because, with that game and Alabama-Tennessee being the only east-west permanent rivalries that historically mean a whole lot to the schools involved, there’s little incentive for the athletic directors of the remaining 10 SEC schools to maintain them.

This is one instance in which what the fans clearly would prefer runs completely counter to what the business-minded athletic directors desire. There’s no question fans would rather give up a cupcake game than a traditional yearly rivalry.

But the fans and athletic directors are on separate pages here.

McGarity admitted as much when he told the Macon Telegraph that he opposed going to nine conference games because, in UGA’s case, with Georgia Tech “that makes 10 games. If you ever wanted to schedule Clemson or Ohio State, like we have, then that only leaves one guarantee game. That’s a pretty tough schedule. Fans would love it. But I don’t know if your coaches or players [would]. That’s strapping it up 11 of 12 weeks there. You have to have some time where some players play who never get a chance to be on the field. That’s why you schedule some of the I-AAs, and some of the other games, to let some of those kids grow, let those kids get their experience.”

OK, first of all, most of us know that those cupcake games really are primarily scheduled for financial reasons, not to give the kids riding the bench a chance at playing time.

But even if you accept the athletic directors’ argument for not going to nine conference games, asking fans at Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee to accept the loss of a traditional rivalry game with a storied history in exchange for a glorified scrimmage against a 1-AA team or some nobody school with a directional name is simply not in the best interests of college football.

That may be old-fashioned thinking, I know, but if the SEC starts throwing away those longstanding traditions that have engendered the fanatical fan support that has provided the foundation of its success, what you end up with is just a feeder league for the NFL.

Got something on your mind concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

300 comments Add your comment

D A DoubleU G

February 9th, 2012
10:29 am

Honestly, I think the solution should be moving to a 9 game conference schedule with the traditional cross division rivalries yearly, and making that the trend/norm for all of college football.

It would drive ticket sales (for those programs who need it), and create an entire extra week of meaningful football!

Keep the natural rivalries every Thanksgiving like UGA/tech SCar/Clemson, FSU/florida, etc…..

The 2 additional games on the schedule will be cupcakes, obviously, and there is no need for a number greater than 2 in this category.

Keep College Football special!!!!

GaTruth

February 9th, 2012
10:29 am

Understand the gimmies, but QUIT MESSING WITH THE TRADITIONS AND RIVALRIES! It’s college football not the NFL. Look at Texas walking from A&M – total loser move!

Jay in VA

February 9th, 2012
10:30 am

Well said Bill. Take the tradition out of college football, and it truly does just become a farm system for the pros. I won’t continue to support that.

Tampa Dawg

February 9th, 2012
10:30 am

Agree Bill. Would be sad to break that series.

meh

February 9th, 2012
10:31 am

move Auburn to the East and Tennessee to the West

Heath

February 9th, 2012
10:32 am

I am a 4th generation UGA grad and lifelong fan, but I will be the first to admit the SEC has become a feeder league for the NFL and nothing else. The conference turns it’s head at indiscretions when one of it’s teams is vying for a National Championship to the point it has become sickening. I am now embarrassed at calling myself a fan of the SEC.

Heath

February 9th, 2012
10:35 am

meh, you do that and then what about UT/FL and the Iron Bowl. That isn’t going to happen.

funny...

February 9th, 2012
10:35 am

Still think adding Mizzou and A&M to the SEC was a good idea?

They should add another bowl game too. Because 34 isn’t enough.

Heath

February 9th, 2012
10:38 am

If Auburn loses the Georgia rivaly, at least they have the comfort of being the only professional team in the state of Alabama.

bdaamwag

February 9th, 2012
10:42 am

I am to the point where I dont care any more who Georgia plays…..I just want them to win all the games they DO play. We need a National Championship, not a rivalry. We have enough on our hands as it is.

meh

February 9th, 2012
10:44 am

we get real crazy and move Arkansas, LSU, and A&M east. UGA, UF, and UT west.

Kevin Weakley

February 9th, 2012
10:45 am

I think we will lose Auburn .. As bad as I hate it !! I see College Football going in the direction of The Super Conferences and the SEC adding 2 more teams by 2014.. I do not think they care to much about the south’s oldest rivalry.. I think they care about the ole pocket book… Off the subject .. Rumor has it that we will be signing a recruit tomorrow .. Do you have a guess as to who.. PS .. Sorry @ your Dad and my thoughts have been with you and yours .. WB rgds Kevin

boot sc

February 9th, 2012
10:51 am

I’d rather keep Auburn and kick-out South Carolina.

Jacket99

February 9th, 2012
10:54 am

You are right Bill and McGarity is wrong. What is college football if not tradition? Both the Jackets and the Dawgs should play Clemson and Auburn every year as well as each other.

bill arp

February 9th, 2012
10:54 am

you pretty much just called our AD a liar. nice job.

bill arp

February 9th, 2012
10:56 am

you can’t boot SC, ummm, they’re in our division.

bill arp

February 9th, 2012
10:59 am

and you can’t move Auburn to the east and leave Alabama in the west. i kinda think that game means a whole lot more than the UGA/Auburn game. I mean, they kill trees and stuff over that rivalry.

WDE

February 9th, 2012
11:01 am

Good article Bill, it is a shame how even as successful as the SEC is and as profitable .Some morons can’t help but threaten to kill that golden goose…

How about this for an idea?

February 9th, 2012
11:07 am

Each division will play their 6 division games, have 1 permanent and 1 alternating. That still leaves 3 games and 2 of them can be cupcakes. Everyone is happy, lots of money and still have 2 easy games a year.

Scott

February 9th, 2012
11:07 am

The fact that any AD would prefer the ability to scrimmage an FCS team over maintaining a rivalry like UGA-Auburn is disappointing, laughable, and indicative of everything that is wrong with college football. Play 12 teams (9 from your conference) and 3 other BCS schools. If every SEC team does this, the rest of the country would follow and college football would be more enjoyable (and attract more revenue). BCS schools and FCS schools should not be allowed to play each other.

Scambledog

February 9th, 2012
11:11 am

NO!!!!!……..We don’t have much entertainment here in Columbus. Please don’t take the Ga/Au game away from us, we would have none. It’s always a big event down here……Go Dogs !!!!

Spanky

February 9th, 2012
11:15 am

Good read here,Bill!! What if there was a conference trade to keep these rivalries? We could trade Tennessee to the West, for Auburn to come to the East, and that would be that!!

Bill Arp- Bro, NOTHING will kill the Iron Bowl, short of a nuculure(George W) disaster!! LOL, you’re right! Those folks don’t play around!!

RawDawg

February 9th, 2012
11:17 am

Ugh. I absolutely hate the expansion. Trade Auburn for Missouri? whoop-de-freakin’-do.

Although, as long as we still have Tech on the schedule, we could add a tough OOC opponent and still have at least 2 guaranteed cupcakes :p

Big Crimson 75

February 9th, 2012
11:20 am

Bad Idea.
Bama – UT
UGA – Auburn
These are classic Southern Football games that should not be sacrificed over expansion.

ajp

February 9th, 2012
11:20 am

Prefer no scrimmage games. Even the sport of boxing (and it has been known to be corrupt) has weight divisions. They don’t allow heavyweights to fight lightweights. Seems like college football should at least have similiar standards.

Dawg Haus

February 9th, 2012
11:20 am

The Georgia-Auburn rivalry is one of the best games the SEC has to offer year in and year out. Even the thought of eliminating it and the Bama-Tennessee rivalry should be complete anathema to any conference AD.

What’s wrong with a 9-game conference schedule? The ACC has a good plan in place, why can’t our league take similar action?

RawDawg

February 9th, 2012
11:20 am

How about this for an idea?

February 9th, 2012
11:07 am

And then play teams like Alabama and LSU in the reg season once a decade?

richmondDawg

February 9th, 2012
11:26 am

I think that the four schools involved have enough clout to keep the games if they really want them…Talking about four founding members, who have a majority of conference championships between the four of them…think about it

Larry Lewis

February 9th, 2012
11:27 am

I agree, the AD’s have forgotten the reason to play the games is for competition, not to make money. The fans are being asked to pay full price for the tickets for meaningless exhibetion games. If they want to schedule games with Coastal Carolina then charge less for those tickets.

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

February 9th, 2012
11:28 am

Bill, you’re absolutely right. I pretty much said the exact same thing over on Schultz’s blog, and it’s nice to hear someone with a wider reach say it.

If we dump UGA/Auburn and UT/Bama, I’m literally going to stop watching because at that point, like you said, we’ll have completely killed tradition for the sake of a few extra bucks and become nothing more than the NFL’s minor league.

I did hear a great suggestion yesterday, though. Simply get rid of the divisions and give every team three permanent rivals, switching the others out every other year (like we do now with staggered home-and-homes). In terms of the SECCG, the two best teams would go: ‘Nuff said.

UGA’d take Auburn, Florida and either UT or SC. Florida’d take UGA, UT and Auburn, Bama’d take Auburn, UT and LSU, and so on and so forth.

What do you think of that, Bill?

JT from Columbus

February 9th, 2012
11:31 am

As much as I enjoy spanking Tech every year, I would much rather keep the Auburn game.

Desert Fox

February 9th, 2012
11:33 am

The results of SEC expansion has reared its dark underbelly. SEC football will never be the same.

fran tarkenton's accountant

February 9th, 2012
11:35 am

couldn’t agree more Bill great article

The Grinch

February 9th, 2012
11:36 am

funny…
February 9th, 2012
10:35 am

Guess I’m even more old-fashioned. I didn’t like it when Arkansas and South Carolina were brought into the SEC.

DCJohn

February 9th, 2012
11:37 am

If the SEC threatens to drop our game with Auburn, I’d be in favor of leaving the SEC. I would rather see the SEC play a rotation where we would not have to give a home and home series. Why not play a road game vs team A and then a home game vs team B in the following year? This would let us keep Auburn and see five West teams (one rotation each year + Auburn) in four years. We would still have four home games vs. four away games. It’s not perfect, but I like it better than giving up the home and home with Auburn.

Big Crimson 75

February 9th, 2012
11:38 am

Sam — the problem I see with that is the good teams are the ones with rivalry’s worth keeping…..Who would Arky or Miss St & others play 3 times a year? Each other? Would not be fair to the Big Boy’s in the SEC …. i.e. Bama, LSU, Fla, UGa, Aub & UT.

Jacket99

February 9th, 2012
11:40 am

DCJohn…That would be a switch. What would have to happen for UGA, USCe, and UF to join the ACC? That would be a coup.

Concerned

February 9th, 2012
11:41 am

Play 9 conference games. The fans are constantly getting screwed. Home games last year v Coastal Carolina & New Mexico State. This year games v Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, & Ga Southern.

Whether we play 9 SEC games or not, get rid of the Tech game…or at least move it to the first game of the year…or play them occasionally…or play them 2 at home for every 3 games.

They bring nothing to the table. We don’t need them, but they need us.

They can’t fill their stadium. We have a chance to completely bury their program…make them even more irrelevant.

Tech is the game that should be on the chopping blocks…not Georgia v Auburn.

The Grinch

February 9th, 2012
11:43 am

Regarding comments about being a feeder system to the NFL. I suggest that since the NFL invests NO money in a farm system they should be more than willing to pony up money to the NCAA and provide football players a monthly stipend of, say, $500/ month ($6K per year).

If there are 120 D1 schools and each has the max 85 scholarship athletes on the team then this would amount to a $61M investment from the NFL. Imagine how much they would have to spend if they had an extensive farm system like baseball.

Anthony

February 9th, 2012
11:46 am

The easiest solution is probably to do what the Pac 12 is doing with the California schools that still want to play each other every year. Let Aub-UGA and Bama-Tenn continue to play every year, but don’t require the other 10 schools to maintain traditional cross-divisional rivalries. It would mean that the 4 schools involved would play the other cross-divisional teams less, but it would not hurt the strength of schedule. It’s not like Bama is trying to keep a yearly rivalry with Vandy.

Gordon

February 9th, 2012
11:47 am

Mr. King,

I wonder what your opinion is if this idea:

Eliminate the divisions. Each team gets 3 permanent opponents that they play every year. The other 10 are rotated in every other year. I doubt everyone could get their top 3 choices for permanent opponents, but I think they could get 2 of those 3. UGA could keep Florida and Auburn, Alabama could keep Auburn and Tennessee, etc. The third one might be a team you didn’t expect. The SECCG would be the top 2 teams after tiebreakers. The advantages are:

1) 8 game conference schedule that the AD’s want for more OOC flexibility.
2) You play every team in the conference at least once every 2 years, and at least once at home every 4 years.
3) Most important rivalires maintained.
4) The best two teams get into the conference championship game. This year it would have kept UGA out, but I’m sure there have been years where UGA was the second best team and didn’t get in the game (2007?).

RawDawg

February 9th, 2012
11:47 am

If I had my preference, its be this: You play your 6 conf games, 2 rotating cross division games, 1 permanent cross div rival. Change instate rivals to every other year, schedule a BCS OOC opponent in instate rival off years, still have 2 cupcakes.

Yeah, Id miss beating up on Tech every year, but every other year would be good enough. Tech fans would like it, because that once a decade they pull out a win they could brag for 2 years instead of of 1. heh

All in all, its a lame situation for the SEC, driven by $$ instead of the game. But as a fan, that solution would make me happiest. And, and extra SEC game each year wouldnt be so bad, even if it is Missouri

RawDawg

February 9th, 2012
11:51 am

Gordon

February 9th, 2012
11:47 am

If I had a second preference, it might be this. Would make SEC oddballs in college football, but Id like the diversity of scheduling to make things interesting

Big Crimson 75

February 9th, 2012
11:52 am

I think 2 more teams will be added to the SEC within the next 5 years, probably sooner rather than later.
This expansion garbage is not over yet!
The Big East & the Big 12 are still un-stable.

Dr Dawg

February 9th, 2012
11:57 am

What if the entire league was required to play 1 game a year at a neutral site in a 9 game schedule? That would mean 4 true home games, 4 true away, and 1 neutral each year for each team. If not, UGA could potentially play 3 true SEC home games, 1 neutral, and 5 away, which is garbage.

McDawg

February 9th, 2012
12:01 pm

i knew expansion was bad

Still@theKool-aidBAR

February 9th, 2012
12:10 pm

FOOLS (SEC fans) and their money will soon be parted.
Forcing season ticket holders to pay for crappy wins against high school teams. HAHAHA the SEC Brain Trust has neither a brain or fan trust.

common sense

February 9th, 2012
12:12 pm

My apologies if someone has already mentioned this idea; but the obvious solution is geographical. Move Alabama and Auburn to the Eastern division as they should be, and place Texas A&M and Missouri in the Western division as they should be. Both rivalries would remain intact on an 8 game schedule.

Why not?

Still@theKool-aidBAR

February 9th, 2012
12:13 pm

DrDawg tell the UGA Brain Trust to stop begging So Ga fans for money to play the UGa v UF game in Jax and make it Home & Home. That contract comes up and you change it.

Gordon

February 9th, 2012
12:15 pm

common sense,

TAM is already in the west. You would have to pick another team (Kentucky?).

I’m sure LSU would be all for that idea.