ATHENS — If you listen closely to Georgia football coach Kirby Smart — very closely — hints and information on ongoing or upcoming themes are most always there.
Like any successful businessman or leader, Smart has the ability to recognize and stay ahead of trends.
That could explain why the Bulldogs are on board with a recent SEC schedule adjustment.
Smart said earlier this month that Georgia and other elite programs figure to be younger teams moving forward because of more liberal transfer rules and players enrolling and leaving school earlier.
It’s a fact that younger, more inexperienced players need repetitions and experience to grow, so playing key football games in November plays to the Bulldogs’ advantage.
Georgia was at its best in 2018 in November, with several young players evolving into key roles and the team getting into sync.
Indeed, because of the way Smart has recruited, Georgia has more competitive depth than most any team in the nation, giving UGA another advantage in November games.
Georgia’s first goal every season is to win the SEC East Division. So, playing fellow East Division member Tennessee in November — rather than October — plays to the Bulldogs’ advantage.
There were some who assumed the worst when word leaked that Auburn and Tennessee had flipped slots on the 2020 SEC schedule.
Some Georgia fans were upset that tradition had been jilted.
Other UGA fans were disappointed the SEC office didn’t repay the Bulldogs for playing consecutive games at Auburn in 2012 and 2013 –they’d hoped the league office would make the Tigers return the favor.
But the Tennessee-Auburn flip is still a good thing for Georgia, and it’s what Smart wanted.
Smart indicated at the SEC spring meetings last May he wanted to avoid the quick rematch scenario with the Tigers that played out in 2017, when UGA played consecutive games in Atlanta against Georgia Tech and the Tigers.
Circle Sept. 19
The Bulldogs’ 2020 schedule features a game at Alabama, and some were concerned that Georgia could wind up playing the Tide and Tigers on back-to-back weeks with the flip.
But a quick look at contracted non-conference games for Alabama and Georgia reveals the date is all but locked in for Sept. 19.
A DawgNation SEC source confirms the earliest UGA could play Auburn in 2020 is Oct. 3.
Bulldogs athletic director Greg McGarity, who works in concert with Smart on scheduling, said Monday he understands the passion of his fan base.
“My message is to wait until the schedule is released in its entirety,” McGarity said. “And then, I believe, people will see the whole picture and be able judge for themselves.”