ATHENS — Georgia football has scheduling twists that seem to have some fans twisting in the wind.
Here’s the thing: Coach Kirby Smart is on board with the changes, and they would’t be happening if he wasn’t.
“I’d just make the statement that if there are any issues that our staff has, we’d voice that,” UGA athletic director Greg McGarity told DawgNation. “But I think Kirby will be very comfortable with the schedule that you’ll see in 2020.”
So Georgia is switching the order of games with rivals Auburn and Tennessee, the matchup with the Tigers moving to October, and the Vols’ series moving to November.
It would certainly be easier if Smart were to speak for himself on the issue.
But Smart has chosen to strategically stay silent since the 28-21 Sugar Bowl loss to Texas on Jan. 1.
Smart did, however, choose to issue a statement making it clear he’s very supportive of McGarity — a narrative that somehow some have gotten confused in the past:
“Greg’s been a great resource for me since coming to Georgia and has always been supportive and energetic about all the things that are necessary to develop and maintain a successful football program,’’ Smart said in a UGA release. “I’m especially appreciative of his commitment to facilities. Greg is loyal to the University and has what is best for Georgia as his top priority.’’
It’s hard to imagine how the Bulldogs head coach could be any clearer.
Smart also made his feelings known on the Auburn scheduling at the SEC Spring Meetings last May in Destin, Fla.
Smart said he would be all for it if Auburn were to play two consecutive games in Athens.
“Absolutely, if we can get a chance to fix it, and (they) return the favor that we paid to them,” Smart said, asked if he would be on board with the Tigers playing consecutive years in Athens. “I hear about that a lot, obviously I wasn’t there, but if you can make it more consistent and balance it out, it would help in the long run.”
UGA played two straight games in Auburn, in 2012-2013, as the SEC adjusted its schedule to include Missouri and Texas A&M.
The unintended consequence of Georgia changing up its odd/even years and home/away with Auburn is that the Bulldogs fell into playing both Georgia Tech and the Tigers on the road in November every other year.
Smart didn’t like that, either, and he said so.
“I feel like if we could fix it, it would help to not have two road games back to back for us, like the situation we had last year (2017) with Auburn and Georgia Tech back to back,” Smart said. “I understand there are problems and difficulties trying to appease everyone.”
So while the opportunity for Auburn to play at Georgia two years in a row wasn’t on the table, the chance to move up the Auburn game to October was, and Smart and UGA took advantage of that.
Some have pointed out that Tennessee is also a rivalry game. Now, it’s a matter of having to travel to Knoxville and Atlanta (to play Tech) in the same month.
But what won’t happen is the possibility of facing Auburn in a rematch just a few short weeks after facing that program in the regular season — something Smart alluded to in Destin last May.
Smart had many other things to say that offered a great deal of insight into his feelings of what was to come with transfers and quarterback situations that are worth looking back on:
Kirby Smart, SEC Spring Meetings