UGA’s McGarity between rock and hard place on SEC scheduling

SEC round logoThe SEC’s athletic directors are meeting this week in Nashville on what to do about the football schedule in the wake of expansion, and it sounds like UGA’s Greg McGarity is beginning to waver in his opposition to adding a ninth conference game each season.

That’s because, basically, the SEC schools giving up a cupcake nonconference game is the best, least disruptive way to ensure that the traditional cross-divisional Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee rivalries are maintained as an annual fixture.

Up to now, McGarity was like most coaches and AD’s in the conference: opposed to a nine-game conference schedule — despite the fact it would most likely draw more TV money — because they consider it tough enough to survive eight SEC games and don’t want to give up one of those sure home wins they buy from lesser programs hungry for the bucks.

Plus, they say, playing nine conference games would make it very difficult to pull the trigger on the occasional nonconference game against a big-time opponent. That’s especially true for schools like Georgia, Florida and South Carolina that are locked into a game every year against a nonconference in-state rival from a BCS conference.

But as this week’s SEC meetings approached, McGarity said he at least supports discussing the option of nine conference games.

The problem is that if the conference keeps the eight-game schedule in its current configuration, you’ll only play the teams from the other division twice every 12 years, aside from your permanent cross-divisional rival. A lot of folks think that’s too long, which has put the possibility of giving up the permanent rivalries on the table.

Really, only the only permanent rivalries that anyone cares about are Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee. The others — Florida-LSU, Arkansas-South Carolina, Vanderbilt-Ole Miss, Kentucky-Mississippi State and Missouri-Texas A&M — don’t have much of a history or haven’t really developed any traction as rivalries.

Talking with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, McGarity asked, “At some point, does the conference make a statement preserving the historical pieces? I hope that there will be a level of concern and compassion for those two rivalry games,” but he acknowledged that, “the worry there is that it would be a 10-4 vote.”

With nine conference games, one of the three cross-divisional games could still be devoted to the permanent rivalries. But as McGarity acknowledged to The Birmingham News, going to nine conference games, as other conferences are doing, also would offer a more attractive product on the field to the ticket-buying fans.

“Many SEC fans have a decision whether to come to our game, or sit at home in front of their 60-inch HDTV,” McGarity said. “Would they be more likely to come to a conference game as opposed to a guaranteed [nonconference] game? I’d probably say yes.”

Other possible solutions to the problem have been floated, including petitioning the NCAA for a waiver to its rule that requires conferences with a championship game to be split into two divisions of at least six teams with each team in a division playing every other team in its division. If the SEC weren’t divided into divisions and simply had the two top teams playing in its championship game, the traditional rivalries would be protected. But whether the schools that don’t really care about traditional cross-divisional rivalries would support such a major upheaval just to protect Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee is questionable.

And so it is that you have McGarity willing to talk about adding a ninth conference game. Because, as he told the Times Free Press, “Our top priority in the whole scheduling discussion is maintaining the rivalry with Auburn.”

It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

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

226 comments Add your comment

Joey

February 29th, 2012
10:14 am

old dog

February 29th, 2012
10:14 am

first……….

old dog

February 29th, 2012
10:15 am

ok, my bad……2nd!

Rutledge84

February 29th, 2012
10:18 am

Down with the cupcakes. For the money the fans pay, they deserve a blockbuster every week.

Macclenny_dawg

February 29th, 2012
10:18 am

All this just because we had 2 add 2 more teams!!!

Bryan G.

February 29th, 2012
10:18 am

Go to 9 games. I’d rather keep Auburn than keep Buffalo or Georgia Southern on the schedule. Plus, McGarity is right: as a season ticket holder, I have little desire to drive to Athens to watch Buffalo when I can have a beer and watch it in HD on my TV. And I *love* Athens. But this year’s home schedule is rather light.

corey

February 29th, 2012
10:20 am

suck it up and play 9. dont need to play two cupcakes a year. its better for the fans.

Pdx

February 29th, 2012
10:22 am

9 conf games in the best choice for the league. I hate the cupcake games.

Bremen Dawg

February 29th, 2012
10:22 am

Heck, we can’t get back to NC game with 8 conference games, if we go to 9 then we will never get there.

BobDawg

February 29th, 2012
10:23 am

McGarity will do the right thing and support 9 games…. Man, he strung a good tennis racquet for me during my time on the TT and in Athens….With UF in Jax each year, we have to beef up our home schedule with more SEC west opponents….

Fridawg

February 29th, 2012
10:25 am

The TV argument is flawed. Since games have been televised attendance has sky-rocketed. The more people see it on TV, the more they want to be there. Games like Buffalo allow those fans a chance to get their. It looks like the Auburn game is on its way out.

Shane

February 29th, 2012
10:36 am

@Fridawg, most of the cupcake games are televised on smaller networks or at noon and we didnt even sell out louisiana lafayette last year. More conference games = bigger bucks and more CBS and ESPN national games.

CTDawg

February 29th, 2012
10:37 am

Drop Tech instead! It’s not really a rivalry anyway. Doesn’t one team have to win occasionally for it to really be a rivalry.

RealDawg

February 29th, 2012
10:40 am

The only real benefit to having two divisions is travel for the sports other than football. Since away fans get such few ticktets to away football and the teams only travel once a week versus basketball and others, football should not have divisions.

Get rid of the divisions for football and have a nine game conf schedule. Allow each school to have 4 fixed opponents (Au, Fl, SC, TN for us), the rotate the other 9. Over a four year period you can play everybody twice.

For the fans, please get rid of a cupcake. I would rather get to see another good game throughout the year than continue to pad the schedule in hopes of getting to the championship game. It is a waste of our (the fans) money to pay these cupcakes and then make us pay to watch you play them.

Old Dawg

February 29th, 2012
10:41 am

Why have a conference at all if you wait twelve years to play everybody.

Coach Bobo's Playbook

February 29th, 2012
10:41 am

With our current offensive play-calling, I’m not sure that we would thrive while having to “play not to lose” against yet another SEC team. 9 SEC games will give us one more opportunity to slip up and lose a game that we should win. At least we figure out ways to score 40 points against most of the cupcakes before we go into our 4th Quarter turtle shell…….. GO DAWGS! Play 4 Quarters of Aggressive Offense!

Newman

February 29th, 2012
10:45 am

Wouldn’t a simple solution to the 8 or 9 game controversy be to go back to no divisions? Just play your schedule like pre-1992 and the top two teams play in the championship game. Or is that too elementary?

knoxdawg

February 29th, 2012
10:45 am

Time to go to a 9 game conference schedule. Whomever comes out on top in the end will be assured of playing in the NC game. To be the best conference we need to have the best conference schedules and that requires a nine game schedule.

schmeckdawg

February 29th, 2012
10:51 am

Newman

February 29th, 2012
10:45 am
Wouldn’t a simple solution to the 8 or 9 game controversy be to go back to no divisions? Just play your schedule like pre-1992 and the top two teams play in the championship game. Or is that too elementary?

**********************************************************************************************************

I like that idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bronwood Dawg

February 29th, 2012
10:54 am

McGarity is finding out he is out of his league. He will be run over just like he was on the Missouri to the eastern division done by Alabama and Tennessee. Mal Moore and Alabama is running the SEC office, said moving Auburn to the east would give them an advantage with the Georgia prospects.

Douglas Dawg

February 29th, 2012
10:55 am

At the end of the day it wouldn’t kill me if we didn’t play Auburn every year….. things change….. an 8 game in conf schedule is plenty!

Mexdawg

February 29th, 2012
10:56 am

I support going to 9 SEC games a year.It`s time the AD`s started thinking more about the fans.Right now when you factor in the donation required to purchase season tickets and the cost of the tickets I`m paying about $152 a ticket for each game.Do I feel cheated with this years home schedule?You bet your ass I do and I`m sure there are a lot more out there like me.I would much rather drop a team like Buffalo to add a SEC team any day.

Gaaaaator

February 29th, 2012
10:59 am

CTDawg…that’s what we say about you guys.

Dawglasville

February 29th, 2012
11:00 am

Keep Auburn and go to a nine game. Or you could flip conferences for Auburn and Tennessee and you would keep those two rivalry games in tact. Once we finally get a playoff I would like to see us renew the yearly game against Clemson.

Daniel#12

February 29th, 2012
11:03 am

Bill, I’m ok with giving up playing the trade school on North Avenue and substituting Climpson or alternate Georgia Southern and Tech (always at home).

blazerdawg

February 29th, 2012
11:04 am

OK, go to 9 – but only after expanding by adding Tulane and Mercer. Cupcakes are necessary in this league. These guys do have to go to school.

SouthSide Dawg

February 29th, 2012
11:06 am

Do the Auburn fans want to keep the Georgia/Auburn rivalry?

Concerned

February 29th, 2012
11:06 am

In order to have a championship game, according to NCAA rules, you have to have divisions and play everyone in your division. No other conference or schools will vote to change the rules for the SEC’s sake.

In order to get a better TV contract, the only reason the SEC ignorantly expanded, you will have to play 9 conference games. So it will happen…maybe not in 2013 but soon after.

Finally, with 3 absolute joke games (Buffalo, Ga Southern, & Fla Atlantic), 3 SEC teams with losing records (Ole Miss, Vandy, & Tenn), & Georgia Tech (10 of 11), we need another conference game to have at least one decent home game.

THE REAL PHIL

February 29th, 2012
11:15 am

Season ticket holders will complain if you don’t play a top 10 team every week and they will complain if you don’t win 12 games every year. There is no pleasing some people. As long as other schools like Ohio State, Texas, Oregon, etc. are playing in conferences FULL of cupcakes, we need to play no more than 8 SEC teams. Just because a team plays a BCS opponent doesn’t mean the team is any good. We will make it next to impossible to win a championship when you throw in another conference game AND the SEC title game. The stadium would be close to full if we were playing Clarke Central.

Contractor

February 29th, 2012
11:18 am

If you can’t beat nine teams in the SEC then there is no way you can win the National Championship, because we now know you can end up meeting another SEC opponent in the National Championship game. A lot of talent and a little bit of luck are needed to get to the National Championship game, and playing nine SEC teams will allow a two loss team into the Championship game over a weaker one loss team from any other conference, I have no doubt. Beating up on cupcake teams will not prove well for our team, so getting that extra competition from the SEC will toughen our team up, and have us battle tested and ready to face a worthy opponent in any bowl game we may get into. Heck, it might even give Bobo some new insight into how to manage a game instead of taking games off and playing them all within a three point margin.

6-18 Against Ranked Teams Since '05

February 29th, 2012
11:18 am

Agree with Concerned

I’d rather not go to the SEC Champ game and play a tough scedule rather than play a cupcake schedule like last year, go 1-4 against ranked teams, and get embarrasingly blown out by LSU.

To my fellow Dawg fans (notice I didn’t say my fellow Richt fans)….where is your pride???

Desert Dawg

February 29th, 2012
11:18 am

Quality depth will certainaly become an issue. In UGA’s case to play nine SEC teams plus Tech can take it’s toll both physically and mentally. You need a few games to catch your breath. But all schools will be in the same boat, depth and recuriting will be vital to long term sucess. Go Dawgs!! .

IL Jacket

February 29th, 2012
11:20 am

The law of unintended consequences rears its head again.

Inspector G

February 29th, 2012
11:22 am

Matthew Stafford proposed a 9 game schedule back in 2007. It was a round-robin, non-divisional format that including brackets and a divisional-style set up where every team in the SEC played every team in the SEC during a 9 game conference schedule. He even invisioned our non-conference games to be slated as conference games, with a win against Tech roughly equal to a nickel or a bucket of hot dogs (whichever was greater at the time due to currency markets). When he finished this vision he went to Amicis in Athens and enjoyed some buffalo chicken gar-chee-mar which was delicious.

-Inspector G

blazerdawg

February 29th, 2012
11:24 am

REAL PHIL is RIGHT ON. This year’s schedule for UGA is not typical due to some unusual circumstances. Imagine the 2009/2010 schedules with another conference game.

Nine SEC games, now with Mizzou and A&M is a long haul.

Wait until the first time an undefeated Pac-whaterver faces an undefeated Big-whatever in the NC game, and the SEC gets left out because our champ lost one or two conference games due to that 9 conference game grind.

GeorgiaDuck

February 29th, 2012
11:24 am

Would have loved to see the Ducks take on Georgia at Sanford Stadium. McGarity cancelled that to fit Charleston Southern on the schedule. With a 9 game SEC schedule, there will be no more Oregon-LSU or even this years’ Washington-LSU games. The Pac-12 has been playing a 9 game conference schedule for 6 seasons.

pass me those taters

February 29th, 2012
11:27 am

http://growingcloser.org/gcblog/archives/congratulations-to-carli-shultis/

with all that bible-learnin’ in high school, I wonder what drove cute Carli to steal those hash browns? oh yeah, UGA is the #1 party school and creates soft athletes, soft graduates, and the school therefore contributes so much less than it could to our kids and our society.

drink up and let’s get trashed y’all!

Mr. Dawg

February 29th, 2012
11:31 am

I would hate to see the Georgia-Auburn annual rivalry end. But as far as I’m concerned tradition has been swept aside so much over the last 10-12 years there’s no point in stopping now. I’d rather see the Bulldogs play other conference teams on a more regular basis than Auburn every year if that’s what it’s going to boil down to and apparently it is. With more conference games there’s no reason teams can’t still schedule soft non-conference games. With a nine game conference schedule there is simply less incentive to play high caliber non-conference games. Instead of Boise State or Oklahoma State or Colorado you play one more tough conference game now.

MCDAVIDDAWG

February 29th, 2012
11:31 am

It’s time to get rid of some of the cupcakes. Expecting the large price Georgia wants for season tickets and than giving us mostly games no one cares to go to is getting more than old. This season is no exception. Too much money for too little. Who in is right mind wants to see Georgia play Buffalo? Is Savannah State next? Georgia already is not filling the stadium for these games and I think it’s going to get worse. Once you don’t fill the stadium, you can’t blackmail the fans to buy tickets, and everything changes.

Dump GT game

February 29th, 2012
11:34 am

UGA/GT game is a throw back really to the 1950s and 40s. GT has not had a major bowl invitation beyond the 1955 Sugar Bowl ( a nice win) and two Orange Bowl humiliations in 1966 and 2009 and the fractional % share of the 1990 MC and THAT game was played in the old, decaying Citrus Bowl and it then, was STILL NOT A MAJOR BOWl.

Playing GT helps GT more than it helps UGA in recruiting AND EXPOSURE. We deafted them this pas game and DROPPED in the polls …………………they simply engender 0 respect nationally, with writers and voters.

GT does cause UGA to sort of emotionally let down usually, and so I say dump them. That game can be jettisoned. We in the 40s and 50s and early 60s, were competitive, but that was long ago.

Go Dogs.

Gator Mike

February 29th, 2012
11:39 am

Mr. King, I do not totally agree with you that UF-LSU is not a long standing rivalry. They have been playing each other every year for a long time. It does not have the passion (and sometimes hate) as UT-BAMA and UGA-AU, but it has been very intense at times.

I also vote for getting away with the cupcake games and going to 9 SEC games. I have been turned off by the cupcke games since UF played Charleston Southern in G’ville a few years ago. That was a complete joke. Yes, all of our SEC teams beat the heck out of each other, but that is no excuse to schedule the likes of Charleston Southern, etc.

GTBob

February 29th, 2012
11:40 am

Drop Tech instead!

Agreed. Its time to end that pointless game.

beanster

February 29th, 2012
11:41 am

Play 9 games. The SEC made its own bed by letting A&M and Mizzou in. Trashing tradition isn’t the answer.

Hey, Gaaaaator...

February 29th, 2012
11:47 am

…we understand that we ARE NOT competitive with UF most years – and we hate it just like you do…a fact is a fact, however, so it would not hurt my feelings if we only played UF on a home and home basis since UGA has not be a factor in anything relevant since 1980, though we do still have a winning record against you guys in the long run (but Vince and Herschel and Andy and and Fran and
Pat ain’t coming back)…

Big Albany Dawg

February 29th, 2012
12:17 pm

This is TOO Easy. Trade AU and Bama for Vandy, KY. Rivalries stay b/c they are now east conference games. Problem solved.

Gator Mike

February 29th, 2012
12:18 pm

beanster: I totally agree with your assessment.

Brad

February 29th, 2012
12:20 pm

Mr. Bill, I believe the word you intended in the first paragraph was “waver”. No biggie.

Gotta keep GT – hate to lose AU, but it’s not the end of the world. Personally, I would rather limit the cupcakes and schedule a big non-con game. I think the pros outweigh the cons. Boise St was a tough draw last year, but still a great experience over NWSE Northern part of the Southern Half State. Alabama’s scheduling plenty of good outsiders on their march to take over the world. If you sit in a corner bullying the small guys and shying away from some possible classic regular season matchups simply to increase your odds at a MNC, you’re thinking backwards in my book.

SS Dog

February 29th, 2012
12:24 pm

Keep Auburn. Drop GTech, or move it to the opening game each season.

Bubba Mutt

February 29th, 2012
12:25 pm

Dump the Auburn game and sign Presbyterian

Nub

February 29th, 2012
12:26 pm

Drop the bugs !!!! And go to 9 conference games .. GT … Buf … GSU none of these teams mean much to UGA..