Athens – By now, I’m pretty sure there’s been a lot more talk in the blogosphere than between the actual parties about the possibility of a Georgia-Georgia Tech football game in the Georgia Dome in September 2011. But, what the heck, let’s talk about it a bit more. . . .
So what would be the advantage for each party?
For the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff Game: an attractive matchup in a year in which it currently lacks a matchup. Organizers have LSU-North Carolina lined up for 2010 and Tennessee-N.C. State for 2012, but need a 2011 pairing. Atlanta Sports Council president Gary Stokan has talked to just about every program in the SEC and ACC and a good number of programs in other conferences, but Tech-Georgia would be hard to top.
For both schools: a payday of $2.3 million or so. That’s no more than Georgia makes from a home game in Athens –- actually, it’s probably less –- but if the $2.3 million came without giving up a home game, it’d be a windfall.
For Tech: To better balance the appeal of its schedule, which currently has perhaps the three most marketable opponents (Georgia, Clemson and Virginia Tech) coming to Bobby Dodd Stadium in odd-numbered years, Tech would like to shift its home games against Georgia to even-numbered years. That could be accomplished if Georgia agrees to play at the Dome (rather than Bobby Dodd Stadium) in 2011, then to play at Tech (rather than in Athens) in 2012, then rotate annually between the campuses thereafter.
For Georgia: It’s not as clear what’s in it for Georgia, and that’s probably why UGA, although willing to consider the idea, seems not at all certain it wants to do this. What lured the likes of Alabama and LSU to the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game is exposure in the Atlanta market, but it’s not as if the Bulldogs are lacking that. It’s a guaranteed national-TV date, but then again, Georgia’s first three games this season were on national TV. Stokan’s toughest sell will be convincing UGA there’s a compelling reason to mess with the tradition of Georgia-Georgia Tech, even for one game.
So, if this were to happen, Georgia-Georgia Tech definitely would be played two consecutive years in Atlanta, right?
Correct. When UGA fans first got wind of this proposal, many assumed that Tech would simply move its 2011 home game to the Dome. No way. The idea is to remove the 2011 game from the schedule rotation by playing it at a “neutral site” with the seats divided equally between the schools, then resume the rotation in 2012 where it left off in 2010. Both sides are very clear that they will not lose a home game to the Dome.
Doesn’t Georgia already have a season-opening game for 2011?
Yes, UGA is contractually committed to play Louisville on Sept. 3, 2011. Of course, it’s always possible to buy your way out of such contracts if you’re willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. But as of now Georgia hasn’t made any move toward changing the Louisville commitment.
Is this an indication that Georgia and Georgia Tech see merit in playing their annual game before the conference schedules, rather than in its traditional end-of-season slot?
Not really. All indications are that, even if this Dome deal were to happen, it’d be seen as a one-time event and the game then would return to its late-November slot.
Just wondering: When was the last time the game was played before the month of November?
Oct. 24, 1903.
What’s the timeline for a decision?
By all accounts, there isn’t one.
What does Mark Richt think about the idea?
Here’s what he said when asked about it after practice Wednesday night: “That question is kind of catching me a little off guard, so I think I’ll just wait until I talk to my athletic director before I start making any comments on that one.”