During the Donnan years, I hated the non-conference scheduling practices of the University of Georgia. Each year, it seemed, the Dawgs might feast on some I-AA team and then get played close by the UAB's and UCF's of the world. Each year, the Dawgs seemed to play down to thier weaker opponents. These games were always noon kickoffs and bunched towards the start of the season. When Georgia played these games, I always enjoyed the game but I longed to watch a contest with more meaning.
Despite the recent downturn in the Wins and Losses column, I still feel that way.
I remember the Boise State game, and how big of a deal that was. I remember that Damon Evans booked Colorado and Louisville when those programs looked like they were on the upswing. Scheduling home and aways with Arizona State and Oregon made me proud of the Athletic Department's fearlessness. The Clemson games were some of the best gameday atmospheres I've ever experienced.
Now it feels like we're back to playing with scared money. Charleston Southern? Georgia Southern? Why not just go for the whole hog, drop the Florida pretenses and move to the Boise State model: I'm sure UGA would own the Sun Belt conference, and I hear the Big East may be looking for new members, these days.
The "everybody else is doing it, so why don't we?" excuse is just that. I am never happy to see a I-AA opponent on Georgia's schedule. Not that anybody asked me, but, really?
Why allow 12 regular season games at all, if you aren't even going to play in your division? And let's not even entertain an Appalachian State at Michigan/James Madison at Virginia Tech doomsday scenario, and what that would do to the already fragile psyche of the current Georgia fanbase. Hell, half of those people already want to throw tradition to the wind and move the Georgia-Florida game out of Jacksonville. Actually losing to the Eagles from Statesboro may cause them to shut down the whole damn football program out of spite.
I will admit, a huge trip out west every single year may be a bit much, but those of use who desired a more robust schedule didn't require marquee opponents every single week or obnoxious travel conditions.
Georgia has real opponents nearby, who would maintain the national exposure, affect recruiting and keep the travel costs low. Clemson comes immediately to mind, and Florida State isn't that far from Valdosta.
Hell, I hear Chick-fil-a is even setting up big, out-of-conference tilts to start the college football year in primetime in Atlanta.
You know Atlanta, Georgia?
This isn't the Gatorization of the University of Georgia football program, it is the rebirth of Donnanism.