Georgia’s 2009 football schedule is an aberration, what with three non-conference games against opponents from BCS leagues: Oklahoma State, Arizona State and Georgia Tech. Georgia’s norm will be two such opponents: Tech and one other.
Next year’s schedule will be the norm.
That schedule was finalized Tuesday, with word that Idaho State will -– for a tidy fee of $525,000 — travel 2,000 miles from Pocatello to Athens to play the Bulldogs on Nov. 6, 2010. The Bengals join Louisiana Lafayette, Colorado and, of course, Georgia Tech on the Dogs’ 2010 non-conference schedule.
So that adds up to two BCS opponents (Colorado and Tech), one lower-tier Division I-A opponent (Louisiana Lafayette) and one I-AA opponent (Idaho State). And that’s essentially the schedule model Georgia wants.
(Yes, I know the NCAA no longer uses the I-A and I-AA designations. But it’s still clearer than the current designations of FBS and FCS, right?)
Oklahoma State and Arizona State wound up on the Dogs’ schedule the same year not by design, but because of the difficulty of finding other compatible dates for the second games of two-game contracts with both schools. It just sort of worked out this way, and Georgia seems pretty determined not to let it work out the same way again. Georgia says, however, that it is firmly committed to playing one BCS-level opponent in addition to Tech each year.
Georgia will pay Louisiana Lafayette $875,000 and Idaho State $525,000 for their trips to Athens next year. Why the wide disparity? Lower-tier I-A opponents (such as Louisiana Lafayette) can command more money than I-AA opponents (such as Idaho State) because the NCAA allows only one victory per season over a I-AA opponent to count toward bowl eligibility.
The price for I-A opponents that do not require a return date continues to escalate. Georgia will pay New Mexico State $925,000 for a 2011 trip to Sanford Stadium and North Texas $975,000 for a 2013 trip.
When Idaho State plays in Athens next year, the typical Sanford Stadium audience of 92,000-plus will represent the largest crowd ever to watch a Big Sky Conference team in action, Idaho State noted in its announcement of the game.
By the way, Idaho State (0-4) opened this season with a 47-point loss to . . . Arizona State, which lost to Georgia by 3 last weekend.
On a different topic, I’ve gotten several questions about the possible kickoff times for the Oct. 10 Georgia-Tennessee game. Here’s what is known for sure: It’ll be an afternoon game. Whether it’ll start at noon, 12:21, 12:30 or 3:30 won’t be known until after this weekend’s games. It won’t be a night game, because CBS has an exclusive 8 p.m. SEC window on Oct. 10 and already has selected Florida-LSU. There will be no SEC night games on the ESPN networks on Oct. 10. If CBS doesn’t select Georgia-Tennessee for its 3:30 telecast, then the game will go into one of the noon-ish slots (12:00 on ESPN or 12:30 on ESPNU or 12:21 on the SEC Network syndication package). CBS will pick its 3:30 Oct. 10 game after this weekend’s action (no later than Monday). Hope this makes sense.