How Georgia football could get break if SEC goes to 10-game conference-only schedule
ATHENS — Nothing in the SEC has been decided about the upcoming football season, to be clear.
The league athletic directors are scheduled to meet in person in Birmingham on Monday. It’s a meeting that was set up before the Big Ten’s decision to limit its schedule to conference games, per Sports Illustrated.
Georgia AD Greg McGarity said he anticipates the league to accelerate a decision on conference-only games, though commissioner Greg Sankey has said he’s sticking to his “late July” timeline for a decision.
If things break right, Georgia football could benefit more than other league schools if the SEC goes to a conference-only slate and plays a 10-game season.
Particularly if the UGA powers-that-be exert enough political pressure — and common sense — to get the Florida game moved out of Jacksonville, Fla., this year.
This would be Georgia’s year as the designated home team, but the rivalry is currently scheduled to be played in Florida through 2023.
As things stand, Georgia has three SEC home games, four road games and a 338-mile road trip to the neutral site game in Jacksonville (that sits 71 miles from Gainesville).
This season, more than ever, with COVID-19 complicating airplane travel and hotel stays, Georgia needs to keep any designated home game it has at home.
Forget tradition, apply common sense.
For what it’s worth, Texas and Oklahoma play their annual neutral site game in Dallas, which is approximately 195 miles from each of the schools’ campuses.
So how would a 10-game SEC season look?
What would be the most equitable way for the league to add two games to each team’s schedule?
The answer is to apply the next cross-division games up on each team’s schedule.
And that’s where Georgia would catch a break.
Many who have picked Florida to win the East over the three-time defending division champion Bulldogs have cited the Gators’ schedule advantage.
No, not the one where Florida plays four games in Gainesville where UGA plays just three in Athens (that Jacksonville thing).
The advantage is Georgia’s West Division opponents are annual foe Auburn (at home) and at SEC dynasty program Alabama on Sept. 19.
Florida, meanwhile, faces its annual West nemesis LSU in Gainesville and draws a trip to Ole Miss.
But if the teams add the next two West Division teams in their rotation, things even up a bit.
Georgia would get a home game against the Arkansas program run by old friend Sam Pittman along with a road trip to play Mike Leach and Mississippi State in Starkville.
Florida would get a home game with Alabama and a road trip to Texas A&M.
The Gators’ bandwagon would come to a screeching halt with the teams’ schedules evened up.
Georgia’s schedule would actually get lighter if the “next team up” in the rotation model was applied to scheduling.
The Bulldogs would drop Virginia and “feisty” Georgia Tech for the Razorbacks and the Maroon Bulldogs.
A schedule break is nothing the Bulldogs should apologize for after the SEC stuck UGA with two consecutive road games at Auburn in 2012 and 2013.
And then there was last season, when FIVE Georgia opponents were coming off a bye week entering their contest with the Bulldogs. On three of those occasions, UGA was not coming off a bye week and was at a distinct disadvantage — South Carolina being one of them..
The Bulldogs two bye weeks last season came at the same time as opponents they were facing, Tennessee and Florida.
Georgia doesn’t need the SEC to do it any favors if the league goes to a 10-game schedule, it just needs the league to make the adjustment in the most fair and logical manner.
Here are the two teams each SEC team would pick up if the league adds the cross division opponents from 2021 and 2022 to the schedule:
Alabama: at Florida, vs. Vanderbilt
Arkansas: at Georgia, vs. South Carolina
Auburn: at South Carolina, vs. Missouri
LSU: at Kentucky, vs. Tennessee
Mississippi State: at Vanderbilt, vs. Georgia
Ole Miss: at Tennessee, vs. Kentucky
Texas A&M: at Missouri, vs. Florida
Florida: vs. Alabama, at Texas A&M
Georgia: vs. Arkansas, at Mississippi State
Kentucky: vs. LSU, at Ole Miss
Missouri: vs. Texas A&M, at Auburn,
South Carolina: vs. Auburn, at Arkansas
Tennessee: vs. Ole Miss, at LSU
Vanderbilt: vs. Mississippi State, at Alabama
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