Why Georgia football-Tennessee game isn’t likely to be a night game

Georgia football-Tennessee-week 10-night game
Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart, right, talks with running back Branson Robinson (22) as they walk of the field after their 55-0 win against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, October 15, 2022, in Athens, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

ATHENS — Georgia fans have taken notice. For every home game that’s taken place this season, not a one has started under the Sanford Stadium floodlights.

Samford started at 4 p.m. Auburn and Vanderbilt were 3:30 kickoffs. Kent State drew the dreaded noon start. Four home games, no night kickoffs.

Following Georgia’s win over Vanderbilt this weekend, the PA announcer announced the next home game would be against the Tennessee Volunteers. The same ones that just upset Alabama this past weekend.

Related: Social media already hyping up Georgia football-Tennessee matchup, much to Kirby Smart’s dismay

A game time won’t be announced until Monday, Oct. 24 at the earliest. There is always the chance a six-day option is picked and we have to wait even longer to learn the start time of Georgia’s game against Tennessee.

But for those hoping for the treat of a night game when the Volunteers come to town on Nov. 5, you’re very likely going to be disappointed with another 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff.

The reason being television. Specifically the current TV deal between CBS, ESPN and the SEC. A deal that was first agreed to way back in 1996, when Kirby Smart was a still a Georgia safety.

As the current contract states, CBS gets first pick when it comes to selecting games. The network has the 3:30 p.m. ET slot every week. There are two weeks were CBS gets a double-header, with one game starting at 12 p.m. and one starting at 8 p.m.

The 2011 season did see CBS get two night games — Alabama-Florida and the iconic Alabama-LSU 9-6 game— but that came only after the network made a trade with ESPN. It’s unlikely the two sides would be willing to trade given the future of the SEC television schedule.

This current arrangement between the SEC, CBS and ESPN will change following the 2023 season. That is when the league’s new deal with ESPN is set to kick in. CBS will no longer broadcast SEC games, with ESPN and its networks having the rights to SEC games. That means the best game of the week can be slotted for an 8 p.m. start on ABC, with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler calling the game.

But for the upcoming game against Tennessee, that does little to quell the nerves of the Georgia fan base. CBS will get first pick and will certainly pick what should be the best SEC game of the season for its prime 3:30 p.m. ET slot. That is what the money it pays the SEC is for.

Georgia and Tennessee will be an electric game regardless of what time it is played. It will easily be the biggest home game of the season, with Georgia Tech being the only other remaining home game on the schedule.

No matter if the game is played at 8 a.m. in the morning or 11 p.m. at night.

The Bulldogs still have to take care of Florida on Oct. 29 as Tennessee does with Kentucky.

“I’m worried about tomorrow, man,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said after the game against Vanderbilt. “I’m not looking down bat that run, because you start looking at that run, you get caught up. I’m looking solely at one thing. It’s not Florida, or anyone else. It’s us. I’m gonna dig, clew, claw to get every player on our roster better. Because one of those guys is gonna be counted on to make a play in a tough game.”

Should both teams Georgia and Tennessee win their rivalry games, it sets up what will likely be the biggest game in the history of Sanford Stadium.

And Brad Nessler, Danielson and Jenny Dell will be their to broadcast the game with CBS, in all likelihood.

Georgia football-Tennessee Week 10 game likely won’t be a night game

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