Thursday, September 30, 2010

Scared Money

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.



Dante said...

College football has simply stopped caring about their product now. They only care about the results. The BCS Championship has become this holy grail that's worth tearing apart your regular season for. What the hell happened to the other 12-13 games on the schedule? What happened to every game matters? When I was a kid, bragging rights were tied to Conference championships, bowl games were exhibitions, and the national title was just some thing sports writers made up that varied depending on which poll you looked at.

Now a national title is a real game with real money tied to it but there's one game and only two slots to get there. What's worse is that the polls are slanted to look at record above all else despite the MASSIVE disparity in talent between the best and worst teams in Div I A/AA football. The total record also largely ignores that college football is very much a regional game so there's not enough cross-over to rank even those with the same record from different regions reliably.

I'm not a playoff advocate but I am very much a 12 REAL games advocate. If you know ahead of time that losing a game would be a monumental upset, you shouldn't be scheduling it. A Conference-champion-based playoff would strengthen that 12 real game goal by encouraging teams to play tougher non-conference teams in preparation of when they may possibly go to the playoffs. I don't think anything tied to the polls would achieve that, playoff or not.

At least we can look on the bright side: Going to the Peach Bowl at the end of the season to play Clemson will be really sweet after playing a regular season non-conference schedule of Georgia Tech and 3 Georgia Southerns.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I could easily be convinced to go back to the old system of Conference Championships and New Year's Day bowl tie-ins.

Though I wonder if any of this will change, should some big, 12 team conferences start scheduling 9 conference games instead of 8.