Azeez Ojulari-Georgia football-Tennessee
October 5, 2019 - Knoxville - Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Azeez Ojulari (13) tackles Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Brian Maurer (18) for a loss forcing the Vols to punt during the second half of todays UGA vs Tennessee NCAA football game at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com

Tennessee schedules Georgia for homecoming, Kirby Smart coach fans ‘love to hate’

ATHENS — Football scheduling is not a perfect science, and Georgia has certainly had its share of recent examples.

Two seasons ago the Bulldogs faced five opponents in a 12-game regular season that were coming off bye weeks.

Some Georgia fans are still bitter over what happened when the league added Texas A&M and Missouri for play starting in 2012, leading to the Bulldogs playing back-to-back road games at Auburn in 2012 and 2013.

The most recent scheduling oddity doesn’t figure to hurt Georgia or put the Bulldogs at any sort of disadvantageous, as much as its worth noting because it’s a rarity.

Tennessee has scheduled Georgia as its homecoming opponent for the Nov. 13 game in Neyland Stadium.

Per Wikipedia, “The game is supposed to be an ‘easy win’ and thus weaker schools will sometimes play lower division schools.’

Looking at the Vols’ schedule, it would seem Ole Miss would have been a more timely (and beatable) homecoming opponent in an Oct. 16 game.

It’s possible Tennessee wanted to avoid any added publicity to Lane Kiffin’s return to Neyland stadium because of all the negative history that would go along with it.

Kiffin, of course, left UT under the cloud of an NCAA investigation that helped doom Derek Dooley’s tenure as the Vols’ head coach.

The program was on probation and dealing with sanctions from Kiffin’s one year as Tennessee’s head coach throughout Dooley’s three years as head coach.

Kiffin’s popularity and witty comments on Twitter and strong presence in media interviews, however, has led many to forgive and forget.

At least, that’s what a recent unscientific poll on the VolNation.com website would seem to indicate.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart was the No. 1 pick on the thread titled “The SEC Coach you love to hate Poll,” which asked readers, “Most annoying SEC Coach.”

Smart led the way at the time of this publication with 42.1 percent of the 290 votes, followed by Dan Mullen (25.9 percent), Nick Saban (21 percent) and then Kiffin with 8.3 percent.

Smart has won the past four meetings against Tennessee after former Vols coach Butch Jones won back-to-back games over Georgia in 2015 (over Mark Richt) and 2016 (in Smart’s first season as head coach.

The Bulldogs have won the past four games by an aggregate score of 166-47, though its worth noting Tennessee held a 21-17 at halftime of last season’s game in Athens.

Knoxville radio host and former Tennessee beat writer Jimmy Hyams noted the last time the Vols played host to an SEC for homecoming was in 2013, when Auburn scored a 55-23 victory.

“Typically Tennessee likes to have homecoming in late October or early November,” Hyams said. “So October 16 is too early, and the next home date was Georgia, which was November 13. They felt November 20 was too late for homecoming.

“That’s the explanation I was given.”

Vanderbilt hosted Georgia for its homecoming game in 2007.