It might not happen. If you were betting, you’d probably bet against it happening. But I hope it does. I hope Georgia and Georgia Tech play one another in the Georgia Dome.
Try it once. Try it in 2011 at the beginning of the season, as opposed to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Try it and see how it flies. If both sides agree it’s a dud, then everyone can walk away and go back to the November status quo. But I’m guessing it won’t be a dud.
I’m guessing the game will be good for both schools, good for the Dome, good for Atlanta, good for the state. I’m guessing one turn under the off-white roof will serve to juice a series that’s just getting juicy again. (As we know, Tech-Georgia as a concept only works when there’s the real possibility of Tech winning. Tech won last season and should win again this time. Whoa, Nellie.)
Any change regarding the game will be met with resistance on both sides. Tech fans won’t want to give up a home game. Georgia fans won’t want to play such a heated game so early. (Oklahoma State is still fresh in Bulldog minds.) Each constituency will be reluctant to switch a game that has been a November staple since Bobby Dodd was a stripling. But you know what? Sometimes change is good.
The lure of the Dome in August/September is that a mere game will become an Event. The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic has seen only two installments, and both have been rousing successes. But the teams involved — Alabama twice, Clemson and Virginia Tech one each — aren’t Georgia-based. Imagine if two Georgia teams played in the Georgia Dome in prime time on the first Saturday of a football season. That would be way bigger than any split national telecast on the crowded Thanksgiving calendar.
To this non-Alabamian, it has always seemed a shame that the Alabama-Auburn game moved from Birmingham to the two campuses. I understand why Auburn fought for such a change — the Tigers were tired of playing in a city that has long been a Tide stronghold — but the colossal rivalry seemed to lose something when it exited ramshackle Legion Field. The game stopped being a showcase and became just another home-and-home.
Remember the painted wording across the facade of the upper deck at Legion Field? “Football capital of the South.” Birmingham can no longer make that claim. Having Tech and Georgia play in the Dome would cement Atlanta’s case as the new capital of Southern collegiate football. We already have the SEC championship game and the Chick-fil-A Bowl. A Tech-Georgia Kickoff Classic every third season would clinch any argument.
Tech athletics director Dan Radakovich released a statement to fans Wednesday. Its intent was to calm fears but also to make a case for nuanced consideration. Radakovich articulated his point nicely: “This scenario would simply provide a one-year interruption in our regular home-and-home pattern. In other words, the 2010 game would be played in Athens as scheduled, the 2011 game would be played at the Georgia Dome, then, the 2012 game would remain a home game at Bobby Dodd Stadium to resume the normal home and home rotation.”
Then this: “We are far from having any type of an agreement on this model, but for us it is an intriguing discussion from a long-term schedule standpoint.”
And it is. It’s so good an idea it merits more than discussion. It merits trying, if only once. But I suspect that if the schools do try it, they’ll like it so much they do it every third year.