Why Monday night opener could bite Georgia football at Alabama
ATHENS — There is no question every Georgia football fan, coach, player and everyone else associated with the program is eager for the Bulldogs to begin the season.
The coronavirus pandemic has put a damper over 2020 and left everyone yearning for a dose of normal that football season could provide if kicked off on time.
The Bulldogs are in the midst of voluntary workouts, with Coach Kirby Smart and his staff able to begin supervising them on July 15.
Georgia is scheduled to open the season on Monday, Sept. 7, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta against Virginia.
In hindsight, playing the game on Saturday Sept. 5 would be much, much better.
For that matter, a home game would have been even more beneficial.
That said, it surely seemed like a good idea in January of 2017 for Georgia to open the season on a Monday night against Virginia with the neutral site game.
No one could have known then what we have all been dealing with now, some 2 1/2 years later.
The SEC announced in August of 2019 that the Bulldogs game at Alabama would be on Sept. 19 this season.
That set up the Bulldogs to play three games in 13 days. And that means Georgia will have two days less time to prepare for that showdown than the Crimson Tide.
One could argue it’s really three less days, since Georgia has a travel day built in with the game being played in Tuscaloosa.
So here’s the cautionary tale involving Georgia rival Tennessee opening on a Monday night.
Three years ago, the Vols were in the same situation with three games in 13 days to open the season.
It was a concern of the Tennessee staff then, and, sure enough, in hindsight there was some second-guessing.
The Vols beat Georgia Tech in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 42-41, in double-overtime on that Monday night.
But less than two weeks later, Tennessee was back on the road traveling to play Florida for a key SEC matchup.
It was a showdown with the Gators just 12 days later that proved to break the back of previous Vols coach Butch Jones.
Florida won the game at The Swamp, 26-20, on the last play of regulation.
Tennessee’s goal-line offensive package faltered, and the defense designed for the final drive of the game had more breakdowns than was typical for a Bob Shoop defense.
Could two days more rest or preparation have helped or made a difference at one of those critical junctures?
It’s also fair to wonder about programs giving up home games moving forward in the near future.
The school may lose some surface contract money, but it has become clear there’s a value to have money kept in the home community.
After all, those student athletes, head coaches and athletic department employees rely on the local hospitals, authorities and businesses.
The recent trying times brought about by COVID-19 have magnified the importance of helping to build the home community, and not just taking from it.
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