Less than a week after Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he’d “absolutely” want his team to get back to regularly playing the Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity has said that matchup could actually return pretty soon.
According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, McGarity confirmed that the Tigers and Bulldogs could square off as early as the 2021 season, the first fall that Georgia’s nonconference schedule is not yet full.
“I do think down the road you will see Clemson and Georgia playing each other,” McGarity said. “I’m not sure about the frequency of it, but I do think you’ll see us play each other in the not too distant future.”
There’s a window from 2021-24 when Georgia has open slots for additional Power-5 nonconference games in addition to the annual rivalry game against Georgia Tech.
“In each one of those years we are working on other power five opponents,” McGarity said. “We have a lot of discussions in the works now. That’s our goal to have two power five nonconference opponents every year.”
While fans may think that rekindling the rivalry should be relatively easy, especially between two schools that are so close to each other, McGarity emphasized that there are a lot of variables in the process, and each school has to fit games into its own equation as well as that of the opponent.
“It’s not as easy as people think it is,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes on it. Our staff devotes a tremendous amount of time in scheduling…I know Kirby enjoys the challenge of playing another power five school in addition to Tech.”
The schools, which sit not much more than an hour or two apart, played every season except two from 1962-1987, but the meetings since then have been much more irregular.
Clemson and Georgia last played in a home-and-home series in 2013-14, with each team winning in its own stadium.
Here’s a snapshot, courtesy of FBSchedules.com, of Georgia’s future nonconference opponents:
The return Notre Dame game in Athens and the UCLA home-and-home series obviously dominate that slate. McGarity could not say whether Georgia and Clemson could play every season, in a home-and-home series, or in a singular neutral site game.
Two factors that could potentially complicate things are if/when the SEC moves to a nine-game conference schedule as well as College Football Playoff expansion.
Expansion of the CFP from four to six or eight or even more teams might reduce the total amount of regular season games, while a ninth SEC game would likely make coaches and ADs shy away from scheduling a second Power-5 opponent out of conference.
But there’s no question Georgia and Clemson returning to a somewhat regular matchup would be great for both programs and their fan bases as well as being a great component of the teams’ resumes when it comes time for the College Football Playoff committee to select the field each year.