What makes a true rivalry for the Dawgs?

A special memory from the celebrated Georgia-Auburn rivalry. (Associated Press)

A special memory from the celebrated Georgia-Auburn rivalry. (Associated Press)

All this talk at the SEC meetings this week about scheduling and the pros and cons of permanent cross-division rivals got me to thinking about what makes a rivalry and how important they are to schools like UGA.

There are various sorts of rivalries, of course. There are the natural in-state rivalries such as Georgia-Georgia Tech, and then there are rivalries born of proximity (border wars) like Georgia-Florida and Georgia-Auburn. Rivalries work best when the fans of the two schools live and work practically side by side.

It also helps to make a rivalry if, over the long haul, the two programs are fairly closely matched and competitive. As my friend Dan put it, “In order to be a rival, there has to be some equality.” For that reason, the rivalry with Tech has suffered during those long gaps between Jacket victories. And if the annual game between the Dawgs and Gators weren’t a special “neutral” site affair held in Jacksonville, the shine might have gone off Georgia-Florida at various times, too.

The absurdly even nature of the competition between Georgia and Auburn is, I think, one reason why it’s perhaps the most revered of Georgia’s rivalries. That, and the fact that they’ve been playing it longer than any other rival game in the deep South.

So, in football, Georgia has always been hip-deep in rivals. However, you have to play them every year for the rivalry to really stay vital. Georgia-Clemson once was perhaps the Bulldogs’ hottest rivalry, but the twice-a-decade status it’s gone to has cooled things off somewhat.

Still, some schools apparently don’t hold rivalries quite as sacred as the folks in Athens do. LSU’s coach and athletic director argued this week for doing away with permanent cross-division rivalries in the SEC because a) they think it’s inequitable for Mississippi State to play Kentucky every year while Auburn plays Georgia and b) for some reason they want to unload their cross-division rival, Florida.

Thankfully, UGA officials don’t think that way. “There are just some things that are part of the SEC fabric that we think are important,” Greg McGarity said of the permanent rivalries like Georgia-Auburn. “Hopefully, at the end of the day, that will ring true.”

And Mark Richt didn’t mince words on the subject: “My sentiment, to be real clear, is we should play Auburn.”

The same apparently goes for Tech. Even if the SEC were to add a ninth conference game, McGarity said, Georgia would not drop its rivalry with the nonconference Yellow Jackets.

Asked which rivalry matters more to UGA, Auburn or Tech, I like what Richt had to say: “I don’t think you should give up either one. I think too many teams are giving up too many rival games. College football is special because of rival games. I think our league in particular is special because of rival games and the passion of our fans. As we progress, I think we need to be mindful of that and respect that.”

Also being hashed out this week at the SEC meeting has been basketball scheduling, and things haven’t worked out quite the way UGA coach Mark Fox had hoped in terms of rivals.

For the next three years, teams will play an 18-game conference schedule that will include two games (home and home) against a permanent rival, plus four rotating teams twice and one game against eight other teams.

Fox wanted Georgia’s permanent rival to be Florida, but reports are the conference has decided to pair Georgia with South Carolina and let the Gators be Kentucky’s permanent rival.

In basketball, I’ve never really felt Georgia had a true rivalry going aside from Georgia Tech. The game Georgia fans have gotten most excited about every year was Kentucky, but that’s true for every fan base in the conference. Otherwise, I’m not sure who our natural rival is.

I asked a few fans and some opted for South Carolina, despite the fact they’ve only been in the SEC for 20 years. Others mentioned Tennessee.

My son Bill remembers when he was a freshman at UGA the students rushing the floor at the Steg three times during the 2003-2004 season: after beating Tech in overtime when they were undefeated and in the Top 5, beating Kentucky soundly, and beating Florida in a weeknight game “with a rowdy student crowd when we were still a bubble team. Someone hit a Florida player and that drew the attention of the league and new prohibitions on rushing the floor.”

But despite Florida being one of the teams that draws a big crowd in Athens, Bill said he would prefer Tennessee as Georgia’s permanent rival in basketball. I can see that, as I recall quite a few fans in orange showing up at Stegeman Coliseum in recent years. “Tennessee has been pretty good the past decade and we’ve had some real good games with them,” Bill said. “They’ve made an effort to be good at the sport and carry some name recognition as a decent program. Also, that would dovetail with the quasi-rivalry we have with them as two of the league’s traditional powers and most consistent programs in women’s b-ball.”

Overall, Bill notes that “the basketball schedule discussion has been an interesting ego check for UGA, as Florida looks like they are basically teaming up with Kentucky, at the exclusion of UGA. Florida and Kentucky were always the two games that juiced attendance, so that is a shame. But the reality is, UGA has a pretty weak basketball history and hasn’t shown signs of being consistently good, pretty much ever. We’ve been rebuilding for 10 years now with a freak SEC tournament championship and slipping into the tourney for a first round exit as all we can show since 2002.”

My brother Jonathan summed it up by noting that until Georgia becomes “a force to contend with” in basketball, “everyone is a rival.”

What do you think? Have the basketball Dogs just never been good enough to have a true rivalry? Who should their natural rival be? And in football, should Georgia-Auburn and Georgia-Georgia Tech be protected at all costs?

Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

55 comments Add your comment

DCJohn

June 1st, 2012
10:48 am

Said it once and I’ll say it again: if we lose the rivalry with Auburn, we should leave the SEC.

Jacket99

June 1st, 2012
10:52 am

Scheduling cupcakes is a disservice to fans and players alike. UGA should play Clemson every year. Tech should play Auburn every year. There is no valid excuse for these games to not be scheduled while Coastal Carolina, Western Carolina, SC State, Presbyterian, Idaho State, Buffalo, etc. are scheduled.

faithfuldawg86

June 1st, 2012
10:53 am

Must must keep Auburn rivalry intact (love the picture you chose for this blog, perfect :) . As for basketball, meh. No one really cares, sadly, because, as you say, we’ve never shown that we are true competition for anyone. Until that changes, we are a cakewalk game for the more powerful SEC schools, not a rival.

JaxDawg05

June 1st, 2012
10:55 am

A true rivalry in college football is one where both schools are in close proximity of each other and their fans have a healthy, respectful dislike of one another. UGA/Auburn comes to mind, especially when you throw in the fact both schools recruit against each other for the same high school players every year.

Jacket99

June 1st, 2012
10:55 am

This is in addition to UGA playing Auburn and Tech every year and Tech playing Clemson and UGA every year. Nobody wants to watch a 56-0 pounding of a cupcake.

chilidawg

June 1st, 2012
10:56 am

faithfuldawg86

June 1st, 2012
10:56 am

Jacket: Can’t play a brutal SEC schedule across the board, too tough on the players, especially as we continue to increase expectations. Everyone schedules the gimme games when they can, not just to improve win-loss ratio but to give the key players a chance to back off a little and the second-third stringers some actual playing time.

BigDawg

June 1st, 2012
10:58 am

“Good Old-Fashioned Hate” makes for a good rivalry, we miss you Lewis Grizzard!!

Boise Dawg

June 1st, 2012
11:05 am

Unfortunately I agree that Georgia has never been consistently good enough in basketball to have a true rivalry… I have no problem with it being South Carolina. I also agree that the Georgia-Auburn and Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry should be protected at all costs.

If I were king for a day…. Georgia would play 9 conference games (Auburn every year), 1 game against Georgia Tech, 1 rotating game among againts any Big 10, ACC, Big 12 or solid mid major program and then 1 alternating game against a Georgia Southern or Georgia State.

icedawg

June 1st, 2012
11:07 am

This whole realignment has gone to the “dogs.” The regional rivalries are going, going gone. The days of the ACC, Big Ten, Big Eight, SWC, SEC and PAC 8 are gone. More money is what it’s about. Conferences want more money, schools want more money, players now want money, politicians want more money, everybody wants more money. How much is enough?

Fumblin' Bumblin'

June 1st, 2012
11:16 am

Let’s be honest…Georgia is a football school, not a basketball school. The basketball program has one good season for every ten mediocre ones.

I’d prsonally like to see football conference rivalries. By that, I mean I’d love to see in football what the ACC and Big Ten do in basketball. Maybe create a partnership with the Big XII and have the top teams in each conference play on one weekend with half the games there and half the games here.

SenoiaDawgs

June 1st, 2012
11:29 am

We haven’t been good enough in basketball to establish a true rival so SC is fine.

As for football, here are the games I must see every year and in the order I would prefer them to remain on schedule:
Georgia-Auburn
Georgia-Florida
Georgia-TN
Georgia-SC
Georgia-Clemson (I wish)
Georgia-GT I personally could care less about this game. I am sure FL fans feel the same way about us right now.

As others have said three cupcakes a year is too many. I can understand 1 the first or 2nd week of the season or between two huge games. Otherwise they serve no purpose other than to rip the fans off.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

June 1st, 2012
11:47 am

Senoia…………….Until FANS STOP going of giving the tickets to friends those games will be the NORM. When Buffalo has an attendance like a TECH game UGa/McGarity will Keep feed in the fans CRAP GAMES calling it Rose Food instead of the fertilizer and money grab they really are.

sc fan

June 1st, 2012
11:48 am

9 games are a fine number for a conference schedule. In the scheme of things is an extra 500k going to break the bank?

Joey

June 1st, 2012
12:06 pm

I hope Fox is successful in building a respectable BB program – he will never get the talent to beat Coach Cal’s “one and done” superstars regularly, but we should hold our own vs the rest of the SEC, and make the Big Dance 2 out of 3 seasons. A good coach can do that with 2 and 3 Star players – see Butler, W KY, Bama, etc.

murfdawg

June 1st, 2012
12:07 pm

Keep GT but move it to the first game of the year. To sandwich it between the last conference game and the conference championship(or Big fish fry as cpj likes to refer to the ACC championship) has caused the game to lose a little of its luster. However, I do think that Auburn and fl are more important to the players and the younger fans. When UGA has a really good team, it beats fl, AU and GT and it doesn’t get any better than that.

Gman 84

June 1st, 2012
12:16 pm

Actually agree w jacket99. It’s a major flaw in the system when schools are actually rewarded for scheduling cupcakes. I liked where UGA was going with the tough OOC schedule a few years back but schedule a tough game and lose and you are out.

Pollsters/computers have little regard for beating a highly ranked team vs a directional cupcake. At the end of the year, only win totals matter-doesn’t really matter against whom as long as you played D1 schools.

A wider playoff would be an answer. By playing a tougher schedule you know more about your team and with 8-10 team playoff, you could survive a loss or two.

As it stands now there is no incentive to play any difficult OOC games which may be smart, but you end up with a lot of uninspiring 12:00 starts against the Buffalos of the world.

Re UGA basketball; Just not competitive enough to matter….at all. Never have been

Bryan G.

June 1st, 2012
12:29 pm

@ SC fan – and you have to wonder: would UGA regain the revenue it loses from a cupcake game in extra donations for people trying to secure season tickets with a tougher schedule? Obviously Athens the city can’t recoup that lost revenue, but UGA itself could potentially come close.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

June 1st, 2012
12:30 pm

JOEY………you know FOX is building an NBA team! Look they are all Pothead dummies just like NBA players.

Ron Roberts

June 1st, 2012
12:44 pm

Tech’s the only basketball “rival” that comes to mind, and I’ve followed the basketball team from Alec Kessler on up. They’re usually better and more consistently good than we are (present stretch notwithstanding), but we get ‘em consistently enough.

The conference pairing is odd, in that it beefs up S.O.S. for Florida and Kentucky automatically by pairing the two up, and weakens the schools that won’t get to play ‘em even once. There’s 14 teams in the conference – seven per division. Why’s this so difficult? Play 19 games (2 per division team, home and home, 1 vs. the opposite division). That leaves eleven or so non-conference games to schedule. What’s the problem, here?

Gordon

June 1st, 2012
12:44 pm

I don’t understand why Tech and Georgia don’t play home-and-home in basketball. One game could be the night before the football game is being played in that town, and the other could be right before the conference play starts in the other town. Why not?

In football, even with 9 conference games, Georgia needs to play Tech. Even though Georgia wins most of the games, the are usually very competitive. Recent UGA wins have included these scores: 14-7, 15-12, 30-24, and 43-34. If they don’t play Tech, you are just going to get a third cupcake.

SSIgator

June 1st, 2012
12:54 pm

“the shine might have gone off Georgia-Florida at various times”

Like UGA only winning 4 of the last 22 games? That shine?

GTBob

June 1st, 2012
1:27 pm

I would be in favor of dropping the UGA/GT game or moving it. I am also surprised that you guys think so highly of the Auburn game. I can’t remember ever talking to an Auburn fan who feels the same way.

CLEMSONDUDE

June 1st, 2012
1:28 pm

I am very much looking forward to the Clemson-Georgia game in 2013 and 2014. Its ashame that these teams dont play at least every 4 years if not every year. Its a great rivalry that for sure. Please SEC, invite Clemson in so we can get out of the sorry baby blue ACC. Go Tigers!!

DIT

June 1st, 2012
1:29 pm

I’d like to see the UGA/Clemson game back every year. Keep tech as well. A school should play no more than 2 patsies per year.
eight conference games
two tough OOC games
two patsies

Side note: I just checked out the blog on espn about OSU canceling the UGA games. Sorry, I have heard some whiners on here, but some of y’all are nothing compared the Ohio St. whiners on that blog. I have never heard a fan base so whiny in all of my life. It’s a good laugh. Check it out.

GTBob

June 1st, 2012
1:29 pm

I don’t understand why Tech and Georgia don’t play home-and-home in basketball.

Because nobody cares about the game enough to see it played twice.

Bill King

June 1st, 2012
2:07 pm

SSIgator:

Yes, and also when Georgia dominated the series during the Dooley years.

Jeffrey

June 1st, 2012
2:17 pm

Georgia auburn is awesome. I agree with dc. I’ve been there when it was freezing and they killed us and I’ve been there when it’s 70 degrees and all the gals are out. The only thing I want to add is young folk need to learn to pick up their trash.

UGADawg83

June 1st, 2012
3:00 pm

An interview with your brother and son. Wow those are expert opinions. I guess the guy at Jiffy-Lube and the waitress at the Waffle House were not available.

Strange Murphy

June 1st, 2012
3:18 pm

Tech should be dropped from the schedule. It’s not like they’ve been any kind of real competition in anymore. It’s funny seeing all the Nerds over here talking crap when they only beat the Dawgs in football like once every ten years or so.

evil empire

June 1st, 2012
4:02 pm

1980 was a long time ago….

harold

June 1st, 2012
4:14 pm

WHEN YOU EXPAND YOU HAVE TO CHANGE SOME TRADITIONS AND CREATE NEW ONES.

SSIgator

June 1st, 2012
4:16 pm

Bill King -

A slight correction to your post. Even during the Dooley years, UF still won 30% of the games they played against UGA. During the last twenty-two years, UGA has only been able to win 18% of their games vs. UF. I would think Mark “I can win games – just not big games” Richt might want to take some of his $3,000,000 plus annual salary and buy a few more bottles of Brasso. Otherwise he is doing nothing more than “shining off” the UGA boosters that still support him by trying to justify his over-blown salary.

kingdaddy

June 1st, 2012
4:16 pm

Maybe we can get them to break out the fire-hoses again this year…

kingdaddy

June 1st, 2012
4:26 pm

Bill (the real) King
Great picture of Uga! They say that right after that picture was snapped, #21 had to go change his shorts.LOL…THAT WAS A DGD!!!

kingdaddy

June 1st, 2012
4:32 pm

SISSYGATOR
Who won the SECe in 2011??? Who got the most votes to win it again in 2012??? The only thing you beat last year was your tom-tom…

EC Dawg

June 1st, 2012
4:39 pm

Dawgs have won 100% of the most recent game against the gators!

SSIgator

June 1st, 2012
4:46 pm

Also Bill, another good way for Richt to boost his UGA stock is to (and I know that this has not been done since the 80’s) possibly win two games in a row vs. UF. Otherwise, he is more over-priced than Facebook.

bdawg

June 1st, 2012
4:47 pm

UGA has a basketball team?

SSIgator

June 1st, 2012
4:50 pm

“Dawgs have won 100% of the most recent game against the gators”

EC Dawg – Another UGA math major heard from. Well done.

Wilson Pickett

June 1st, 2012
4:52 pm

UGA and AU…really two teams that have 1 NC each in the last 50 years and aweburn bought that one. Both schools = Big Hat and No Cattle.

Flo-Ri-Duh

June 1st, 2012
5:07 pm

A certain level of long term hate is necessary for there to be a true rivalry. Tech, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee and now Alabama are all rivals of UGA.

Chiefdawg

June 1st, 2012
6:17 pm

Drop Tech. UGA gains nothing by playing that game.

George P. Burdell

June 1st, 2012
6:22 pm

I wish UGA and Clemson still played often, just like I wish Tech would still play Bama, Tennessee and Auburn on some kind of rotating basis. I know everyone is moving to scheduling lighter, but from a fan standpoint, those games are much more compelling. I do think it would be interesting to see how the Tech-UGA game would do earlier in the season. It does get overshadowed by the conference championships and it might add a little fire if it was played earlier in the season.

Return to Glory

June 1st, 2012
6:22 pm

Nothing better than kicking tiger and gator tail then swatting down the insects from North Ave,
Go Dawgs

Amarseilles mutt

June 1st, 2012
7:05 pm

Yo! Bigdawg!

What does Lewis Grizzard have to do with the Great book “Clean Old Fashioned Hate” that was penned by William K. (Bill) Cromartie (UGA ‘57)?

I am curious.

beau0013

June 1st, 2012
7:14 pm

The reason why we (UGA) usually schedule 2 or 3 “cupcakes” is because we have a traditional rivalry with another BCS conference team. Unless your a team that plays Notre Dame there are not that many schools outside of the SEC East (UGA-GT, FLA-FLA. ST., SC- CLEM- KEN- LOIUSVILLE…I know that one is a stretch.) Not one team from the west plays a out of conference rivalry game. Giving credit where credit is do Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas have played other BCS conference games in the recent past: Clemson, VT, Texas A&M, West Virginia, etc… Any one notice how A&M and Mizzouri didn’t keep any of their rivalry games. Texas v A&M or Mizzouri v Illinois. They know how brutal there schedule is fixing to get. When you are apart of the most dominant conference in college football the conference schedule is tough enough already. I know that UGA has the easiest SEC schedule again this yert (Not our fault we didn’t make the conference schedule), however The UGA GT game has been pretty competitive over recent years. If every team in the SEC was forced to play a real team from another BCS Conference it would make things fairer. MISS St. this year plays: Jackson St., Troy, South Alabama, and Middle Tennesse. That should be 4 wins right there. With them playing Ole Miss, Kentucky, Auburn, and Tennessee they should be able to make a bowl with that schedule. A&M plays LA Tech., SMU, South Carolina St, and Sam Houston St. REALLY!!! not one team from another BCS Conference. When playing the cupcakes coaches feel more comfortable giving players a chance to play that might not get the opportunity in the bigger games which I like. When UGA lost last year to Boise St. any dreams of a national championship were over. Now that the conference has realligned and we should know who we will play within conference every year, we will probably schedule tougher games the years when we have Ole Miss. or Miss St. Remember we were scheduled to play the defending National Champs in Alabama this year before the new teams came aboard. If we do pick Bama up next year and play Clemson you can see UGA playing (depending on the teams finish this year) 5-7 top 25 teams next year. Thats a tough road to travel on the way to an SEC and National Championship.

kingdaddy

June 1st, 2012
8:09 pm

I can’t imagine not playing G.T., but somehow I have to agree with The Chief. Either we have to start losing to them, OR they have to start beating us. They are a dangerous team for us to play because we usually have more to lose with a loss than they do and I don’t mean to deminish them. I like GT,always have, just not when they play the Doggies. I would rather them always be relavant. I don’t want to argue about this, it’s just the way I feel…

kingdaddy

June 1st, 2012
8:12 pm

I would like UGA to play UCF again…

minnesota dawg

June 1st, 2012
8:32 pm

Keep the Auburn Georgia game! I can still see sugar falling from the sky!! Get Clemson back and dropped those easy non-conference games. Remember Kevin Butler kicking that 62 yarder against Clemson? South Carolina has become a rivlary since Spurier made them legitimate contenders.