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Why Georgia football needs to continue play Georgia Tech, even after 2020 cancellation

Georgia and Georgia Tech will not play this season for the first time since 1924. Not that many Georgia fans seem all that upset about the development.

Georgia and Georgia Tech seem to be going in opposite directions at the moment, with Georgia contending for national titles and Georgia Tech becoming one of the worst Power Five teams in college football last season. Add in that Georgia has lost to Georgia Tech just four times since the start of the century, there is a case to be made for not playing the Yellow Jackets on a yearly basis.

But I’m not here to make that case. I’m to argue that even amidst calls to drop the rivalry game, that Georgia should continue to play Georgia Tech every season, even as the gap between the two sides seems to be as wide as the State Route 316.

The reasons for not playing Georgia Tech this season are valid, especially when considering the hoops the other SEC members would have to jump through to allow Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky to play their in-state ACC rival.

With the SEC delaying the start of the college football season to try and get a better grip on the difficulties presented by COVID-19, there just aren’t enough Saturdays to squeeze the Yellow Jackets into a 10-game schedule.

Both Georgia and Georgia Tech have maintained that they’d like to continue the series into 2021 and beyond. Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity gave a statement on the game not being played this year.

“It’s unfortunate,” McGarity said.  “And you’re seeing it really around college athletes this year. There’s so many abnormal situations that are in play that will certainly create a lot of disappointment and unfortunate.

“The pandemic has just created so many oddities that a lot of things are almost out of your control. It’s just one of the things that are unfortunate when you’re in a situation like that. It’s just unfortunate.”

With the Yellow Jackets off the schedule, some Georgia fans would be just fine keeping it that way. They’d rather see other marquee non-conference games in its place like Georgia-Notre Dame was this past season. Nevermind that Georgia has an additional Power Five opponent on the schedule every year through 2033 season, in addition to Georgia Tech, which is scheduled through 2037 at the moment.

Taking the Georgia Tech game off the annual schedule would be yet another removal of a key piece of Georgia’s tradition. We’ve already seen another tradition changed, as Auburn and Georgia were previously scheduled to play in October for the 2020 season and going forward. This will be the first time since 1936 that the game is played before November.

There’s also the seemingly everlasting debate on whether Georgia and Florida should play in Jacksonville, Fla., every season. The game was extended to remain in Jacksonville through 2023 but the writing seems to be on the wall for the future of this rivalry.

Eventually, people are going to continue to be okay with stripping away traditions and for what? To make more money for the athletic departments? To give Georgia a better shot at winning a national title? Georgia Tech hasn’t been the reason Georgia hasn’t won a title since 1980. If your team can’t beat Georgia Tech, it probably doesn’t deserve to win a national title that year anyway.

If you keep trying to do what’s “best” for college football and Georgia, the sport is going to become unrecognizable. It won’t have those fun upsets or agonizing defeats anymore. It’ll eventually turn into a Champions League style set-up, where the best however many teams in the country play each other in a round-robin tournament, all competing for just large sums of cash.

That’s not college football. That’s the junior varsity version of the NFL. And if I wanted to watch NFL football, I’d just watch that instead.

Traditions, rivalries, locations are all what make college football the weirdly beautiful sport that it is. Of course it’s incredibly flawed. Georgia Tech having more wins in Sanford Stadium in the past decade than Auburn and Tennesee combined show just how wonderfully dumb the sport can be.

College football isn’t better off with fewer rivalry games. The sport would be benefit from Texas playing Texas A&M, Missouri taking on Kansas and Notre Dame facing off against Michigan every year. While Georgia-Georgia Tech isn’t the greatest rivalry right now, that doesn’t mean that it can’t become a more intense rivalry going forward.

Admittedly, the Georgia Tech game does mean a lot more to me than perhaps the average Georgia graduate. I grew up in Roswell, Ga., about 30 minutes from Bobby Dodd Stadium. The first college football game I attended was a Georgia Tech game. Being from the Atlanta area, the Georgia Tech game carries more weight for me, like say how in south Georgia the Florida game means more or in Columbus, Ga., the Auburn game is huge.

It’s completely understandable as to why the Georgia and Georgia Tech rivalry won’t continue this year. There are valid reasons for it. But hopefully, it’s just a one year break and not the latest casualty of greed in college football.

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