ATHENS — It could happen. Don’t count on it, but yes, it could happen.
Last year, Mark Richt told his former Georgia players that “I’m 100 percent convinced that the University of Georgia and the University of Miami are on a collision course for a national championship.”
Or maybe the Belk Bowl. Or TaxSlayer Bowl. Or even the Music City Bowl.
Miami finished the regular season 8-4, and Georgia is 7-5, and there are plausible scenarios where the two teams could be matched. Richt was asked Monday, on the Joe Rose Show in Miami, how a Georgia-Miami bowl game sounded.
“I wouldn’t doubt that somebody would try to get that match up. But yeah, I don’t know, it’s hard to say,” Richt said.
Last year, at Georgia’s senior gala, Richt sounded open to playing Georgia, but that was last year. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart hasn’t been asked about it, and Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity has deferred bowl questions to the SEC office.
“Those are all discussions that are going on with conference officials daily,” McGarity said of the bowl situation.
Mark Richt and Greg McGarity at last year’s farewell press conference. (BOB ANDRES/AJC).
Georgia appears likely headed for one of the so-called “Six Pack” bowls with which the SEC is affiliated: Belk, Music City, Liberty, TaxSlayer, Outback and Texas bowls.
The Belk and TaxSlayer would definitely match against an ACC foe. The Music City has the option of picking an ACC or Big Ten team, but its executive director, Scott Ramsey, has said they’re more likely to go with a Big Ten team this year, because they’ve gone with an ACC team the past two years.
Asked if Georgia is locked into one of those six bowls, McGarity said it was “too early to tell, with all those moving pieces. You’ve got other conferences that are involved in the match-ups. So it’s not just the SEC, I’m sure they’re working with their partners in the Big 12, the Big Ten and the ACC.”
No one at Georgia will speak on the record about their willingness to play Miami, but given everything that’s happened over the past year, it would be surprising if Georgia signed off on it. Smart and Richt appear to have a good relationship, but Georgia would be facing a team coached by the man who recruited almost every player on its roster.
Then again, Georgia did get matched with Louisville in the 2014 Belk bowl, less than a year after defensive coordinator Todd Grantham bolted Georgia for Louisville.
Ultimately, it may come down to the match-ups not working: If the Music City wants a Big Ten team, that only leaves the TaxSlayer (which Georgia has gone two of the past three years) and the Belk (where Georgia went two years ago.) That, more than anything, may be why Georgia-Miami doesn’t happen this year.
Among current projections:
- CBSsports.com projects Georgia to the Liberty Bowl and Miami to the Belk Bowl.
- SEC Country has Georgia in the Music City Bowl and Miami in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
- College Football News does project a Georgia-Miami matchup in the TaxSlayer Bowl, but again, that would be Georgia’s third trip to that bowl in the past four years. So it would have to really want that Mark Richt Bowl to happen.