Kirby Smart shares his thoughts on moving annual Georgia vs. Auburn game, explains his program's tough non-conference scheduling
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is one of the annual highlights of the SEC schedule and while the game isn’t going away, there are reports out there that the league plans to move the game up on the schedule.
There will be no change to the next edition of the game, it’s still set to be played on Saturday, Nov. 16 on The Plains, but the league could be moving the game to October starting in 2020. If it does so, it’s believed Tennessee will replace Auburn on Georgia’s November slate.
What does Kirby Smart think of the proposed change? He was asked that question during his Wednesday appearance on WJOX 94.5 FM program “The Roundtable” from Birmingham’s Regions Tradition.
“That’s not for me to decide, that’s for the SEC office to decide and I think they do a great job of working on that. It may bring more of a bigger factor to the end of the season because the games will be divisional toward the end but they do a great job of managing that in the SEC office and they do it way ahead of time,” Smart responded.
Based on that answer, it doesn’t sound like Georgia is the one requesting this change but they won’t oppose it, either.
As for games on the schedule the school has complete control over, Georgia recently announced another home-and-home series this week, with the latest coming against Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma. The reaction to the news has been near-universally praised, however, there is a massive gap between the two home-and-home games between the two programs.
Georgia is set to travel to Norman, Oklahoma on Sept. 9, 2023, with the Sooners making the return trip to Athens on Sept. 13, 2031 game played Sept. 13.
Why the gap in the series? Smart explained it during his appearance on the show.
“Here’s the problem, if you don’t do that, you won’t have one of those games,” Smart answered. “So for us, 2023, we just got Oklahoma, we couldn’t find anybody in the country that didn’t have a game in 2023. And you think, ‘Well, that’s four years out.’ That’s like right now because the scheduling is all done. You see Alabama is doing the same thing, Clemson is doing the same thing. If you don’t get your games further out, you won’t have games.
“There’s no opening between there, we had a weird gap between 2023 and 2031 and everything in between was booked. The only option was 2031, I agree it’s a long way out but you can’t not do it that way because they go out and get other teams. The only other option we had for 2023 was to go out and play a team we could have paid to come in. Then I’d be sitting here ‘Why are you playing all these cupcakes?’ You know what I mean? So for us, we want to go play the best. We think it’s going to help with College Football Playoff because strength of schedule is a major factor and we want that.”
That final thought is key for the Bulldogs as strength of schedule has been key in the eyes of the College Football Playoff Committee when it comes to debating the best four teams. For all we know, the CFP could be expanding to six or eight teams by the time some of these marquee non-conference games arrive for Georgia and thanks to the program’s scheduling efforts, the Bulldogs will be in better position to punch their ticket to the Playoff even if they don’t win the SEC thanks to potentially having outstanding non-conference wins on their resume.