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I was curious if there has ever been, or will be, any consideration about getting the Auburn and Tech games back to where they used be as far as home and away? Prior to the SEC expansion I fairly confident that if Auburn was a home game, then Tech was on the road, and it flipped the next season. That set-up gave UGA at least one more solid home game towards the end of the year, as opposed to now where the final home game is 3 weeks before the regular season ends every other year.
This is a great question, Wright, but one for which I’m afraid I don’t have a solid answer. I can tell you, yes, there has been much talk and consideration. But is real change imminent? Best I can say is maybe.
To give other readers a little background, one of several football schedule changes that the SEC initiated when it expanded to include Missouri and Texas A&M in 2012 was to flip venues for Georgia and Auburn’s annual home-and-home series. This resulted in the Bulldogs having to play at Jordan-Hare Stadium in back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013. They’ve alternated accordingly ever since.
The unintended effect of that is that Georgia ends up playing both Auburn and Georgia Tech ― its two oldest rivals ― at home or away in the same year. That can make for a terrific, and some might say favorable, home schedule every other year for UGA, but a not-so-great one in others. The same is true for Auburn, which annually plays its in-state rival Alabama after the Georgia game.
That worked out well for the Tigers last season as they played three straight home games to end the season and defeated both Georgia and Alabama at home at Jordan-Hare Stadium to clinch the SEC West title and a berth in the SEC Championship Game. Conversely, it left the Bulldogs with an unattractive November home schedule.
It also worked out well for the Tigers in 2013, when instead of playing at UGA in Athens as was previously scheduled, they got the Bulldogs in Auburn and executed the “Prayer at Jordan-Hare” on the way to an SEC championship and a National Championship Game appearance.
Georgia will have three consecutive home games ― against Auburn, Massachusetts and Georgia Tech ― to end the upcoming 2018 season, so there are positives and negatives.
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said the matter has come up for discussion before and continues to. In fact, SEC athletic directors are meeting this week in St. Louis as they do every year during the SEC men’s basketball tournament. But he said as long as the league maintains an eight-game conference schedule, it’s difficult for them to do much different.
McGarity’s latest response to the question of whether Auburn could flip back to playing Georgia in Athens in odd-numbered years was only “perhaps.” He answered that question in slightly more detail before last season.
“I think everything’s on the table in the future regarding SEC scheduling,” he said. “Every meeting we have, we talk about scheduling and what we need to consider. We know we are committed to an eight-game schedule for the next few years. Will that change? Who knows? I think we have a group of ADs that are willing to listen to other alternatives.”
In the meantime, the 2018 schedule is set. The good news for the Bulldogs is they won’t have to go on the road again in the regular season after returning from Kentucky on Nov. 3. The bad news is they might not have an attractive home game after Halloween in 2019.
Nevertheless, Georgia has won four of six versus the Tigers since the switch, not including the victory in the SEC Championship Game in 2017. So the Bulldogs continue to lead the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” 58-56-8 after 126 years.
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