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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One Last Post About the Schedule

I think we've reached the saturation point on the discussion of the scheduling, but Mark Richt addressed the issue Tuesday, and I figured it would be worth posting his thoughts as a fitting conclusion to the conversation.

First, Richt talked about what the tough opener against Oklahoma State has meant to the teams in terms of preparation.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever gone into the first game of the year and I didn’t feel the excitement and the energy with the team, but I think there is a little greater sense of urgency," Richt said. "I think our coaches were more interested in starting the game plan for Oklahoma State a little bit sooner. They were wanting to get into breaking into scout team a little quicker to begin to plan. When you play a team that good it gets everybody’s juices flowing pretty good.”

It was an interesting comment from Richt to say the least, particularly since he spent most of the past few weeks saying the exact opposite. As a reporter, I figure I'll be lied to. I just ask that it's the same lie each time.

Anyway, from talking to players, that idea has been shared universally. The Oklahoma State game was a good opener because it has kept the Bulldogs focused throughout the offseason.

I have two qualms with this:

1.) Shouldn't a team be able to stay focused regardless of who that opening opponent is? Yes, maybe a really good team from another conference can provide more excitement, but I would hope it doesn't change the focus significantly.

2.) It really sort of piggybacks what I noted yesterday -- there is more thought, preparation and energy that goes into a "big game" and when those games are over, the situation is ripe for a let down.

As a few readers have pointed out, however, a good team doesn't allow that to happen. So the bottom line, I suppose, is that if Georgia wants to be a national championship team, this really shouldn't be an issue regardless. I can buy that.

That's the cost of the big game, but how about the benefits? Richt was asked about that, too, particularly in terms of a recruiting advantage that playing these games gets you.

“There is going to be a lot more attention on this game than there would have been if we were playing someone who’s not ranked as high," Richt said. "There will be national attention because people always want to compare leagues, and most people that I’ve heard said that the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 might be the two best as of recent times, so they’re wanting to see which league is better. That will be a big question across the country. People may watch it just for that reason. More people will see and hear about Georgia because we are playing this game, and that’s good for us."

I'm not going to argue this point because I think it's a valid one. Georgia-Oklahoma State is a marquee game on a weekend in which there aren't many marquee games. My complaint about the scheduling thus far has been that these opponents have not usually ended up getting the type of attention that Georgia probably hoped they would when the games were scheduled.

A number of readers pointed out that they wanted to see big-time opponents or travel to places they wouldn't normally go. I agree -- but why not go all the way with it if you're going to ramp up the schedule? How about a home-and-home every three years with a truly marquee opponent, the way Ohio State has done in recent seasons with Texas and USC? Or why not at least make the trip a marquee event, as has been discussed with a possible matchup against Army in New York? I'll take either of those options over a trip to Stillwater any time.

Of course, there's another thing that has to happen before Georgia gets that recruiting bump from playing in such a big game on Saturday -- a win.

"It’s certainly better for you if you win these kinds of games as far as the perception of the voters and the perception of the recruits," Richt said.

But there's this caveat, he said: "This game, win or lose, should prepare us for what we are about to face when we get into league play," Richt said. "It’ll be good preparation for that.”

It's a sentiment mirrored by Bryan Evans, too.

"If we go out and win this game and compete with the No. 9 team in the country, we should have no doubt that we can compete with South Carolina or any other team," Evans said. "It’s just going to help us as a stepping stone.”

I like the theory, but I'm curious about this:

If they win, does it give them confidence or overconfidence for the following week?

And if they lose, what happens to that high morale Evans is talking about?

It's a question that really won't be answered until South Carolina arrives next Saturday.

ADDENDUM: After mentioning Richt "lying" to me, I realized that I was probably very unclear about what I meant.

I didn't mean that Richt's previous statements about the schedule were lies.

What I meant was: For all of preseason, he'd been saying the team had not changed its approach because of the big opening week opponent. Then Tuesday, he said they had and had begun preparing sooner. It was the exact opposite of what he'd been saying.

I was really unclear about what I thought Richt was being disingenuous about, and I apologize for that. I was tagging him a liar to defend my cause (and in truth, I really don't care that much about the schedule to begin with, but I thought it was an interesting discussion). I was annoyed because Richt really did seem to have done a 180 on his comments about preparation.

Sorry for the confusion.

14 comments:

Silver Dawg said...

My sentiment exactly regarding out of conference. A truly marquee game (Ohio State, Penn State, Oklahoma, USC, etc.) per year is the way to approach future scheduling, I would think. If a team is going to lay it out there for a win or a loss, make it a win or loss on a truly national stage with the pluses and minuses that go with it. The benefits on either side of that setting greatly outweigh scheduling mid-heavy weights. Sprinkle in lesser opponent(s) to round out the schedule with the SEC gauntet.

Chris said...

I think you feel very strong about the scheduling issue. In the end, the schedule is what it is and that is Damon Evan's decision

Bad said...

I like the idea of playing middle of the road BCS teams. Challenging but easy wins. (OK St. was a mid level team and will be again...just harder than first thought.) We should beat OK. St.; Boise St.; ASU EVERY TIME. But we also shouldn't be the alone on this island while everyone else takes the easy road to the NC game. We don't need to earn respect. We are the GEORGIA BULLDOGS. We are not Utah. Go undefeated and everything will be fine. Although it would be great, we don't need to schedule a team like USC or Texas until after we get over the hump.

NCDawg said...

This discussion evokes a thought - Pre-Bowls. The Georgia Dome does it each year. Basketball has the ACC/Big Ten tourney. Big games, neutral sites balance the travel load, more teams in big games levels the playing field, $ for TV and schools, and fans excited about the start of a new season.

HamDawg11 said...

The Ohio State argument is comparing apples to oranges. We have a BCS conference in-state rival in Tech, whereas OSU doesn't. The Big Ten is notorious for weak OOC games. You can just about guarantee 3 cupcakes each year, if not 4. Take a look at Penn State's OOC games this year: Akron,Syracuse,Temple, E.Illinois
Are you friggin' kidding me? OSU has: Navy, USC, Toledo, NMexSt. Outside of USC it's ridiculous. And then their conference sched isn't exactly 'murderers row'. LOL

Then you have the Pac-10. They only play 3 OOC games each year, and their conference is on the rise in terms of depth of quality teams. USC plays San Jose St, Ohio St, and Notre Dame...a very respectable slate. Kudos to Carroll and crew for stepping up to the plate each year in OOC play.

I wouldn't mind seeing UGA play a big time program every few years, mixed in with some mid-level BCS schools in other years. GT is becoming relevant again, like it or not, so we've got to consider them each year.

Regardless of who's on the sched, we've gotta bring our A-game every week to be in the hunt for the crystal ball!

GO DAWGS!!!

Ben Rockwell said...

The Dawgs will not get a top-tier opponent from another conference until we end up at the top of the heap. Right now, like it or not, I think our program is still considered second-tier. Despite Richt's record and despite the overall record, the national perception is not there.

Until you see Richt and Logan Gray or Aaron Murray or (God willing, Joe Cox) hoist that crystal football, a game with a Texas, Oklahoma, USC, or OSU will only come sometime in January.

There's a reason that our OOC slate with BCS schools mirrors their second-tier (if not lower). Despite our own thoughts about our own program, the national interest is just not there.

How else can you explain Bama being a top five team with a QB who has the same amt of experience as our starting QB and a coach who is not as successful overall as our own? The difference? National titles and a crystal football in Red Stick b/c of his work there.

Win the big one, and Evans can start calling his own shots as far as scheduling goes.

UGA69Dawg said...

As an Old Dawg it hurts me to say this but we have a long standing bad habit of loosing games after big wins. Dooley, Goff, Donnan and yes Mark have all done it. We win at Stillwater the chances are we will lose to SCU at home. ASU last year killed us the next week. Even the OSU game the last time, I think we lost to SCU the next week and that caused us to lose the SEC East. Sorry but I'm from the Dawg as half full generation.

hinesacl said...

Dave, let me ask you this...do YOU get a little more pumped up about games vs top ranked opponents than say, Tenn Tech?

Isn't it just human nature, especially when you are 17-23 yrs old?

It's nice to say that you should have the same amount of focus, but it's so much easier said than done. It's like saying, "Dave, Mad Men was voted as the best drama series on TV last year by it's peers. You need to get as fired up, if not more, about watching that show than Lost."

Ok, that's not the best comparison, but you get my meaning. UF won the MNC last year, but they had a let down at home vs Ole Miss. The talent gap in college football has closed enough since the 85 scholarship limit that there really are about 75 teams that can beat you on a given day.

Michael said...

Sorry, but even factoring out homer-ish, Georgia is not a second tier school.

Multiple SEC titles. Many 10 win seasons. Richt is one of the top 5 winningest active coaches.

UGA is definitely a tier 1 school.

To say it requires a national title to be tier 1 is to say that only 6 teams from this decade are tier 1.

Anonymous said...

We play in the sec east and don't have to do that the sec does it for us. Ohio State has to schedule a huge name because the big ten is a little down. And quit whinning about being lied to you've said that in a few articles.

Anonymous said...

i'll read one more of your articles and if it sucks like this one it will be the last. Do you root for the dawgs?

David Hale said...

I'll complain about whatever I feel like complaining about, and I'd invite you to both stop reading and commenting on the articles. You seem pretty useless to me.

Ally said...

David, i mean no offense to you, but i'm always curious when a reporter accuses someone they're interviewing of being disingenuous or misleading. It seems as if you think Coach Richt owes you something - and i just don't get that. His number job is not to answer your questions nor ours. Its to win. If that means he keeps information from the public, press, and fans then so be it. I love your work and greatly appreciate all that you do, it just seems as though you have some sense of entitlement when it comes to reporting UGA sports. I just don't get it.

The bigger point here is that there could be a variety of reasons why Coach Richt does what he does. To make a broad judgment and accuse of him being disingenous or misleading (i won't say 'lying' because i don't believe you meant that btw) is just wrong frankly. I would hope that in the future you might consider reserving such harsh judgments unless you know for a fact that you were mislead rather than questioning or mislabeling the character of a very good man.

Again, i mean no disrespect to you and thank you for allowing me to post my opinion.

David Hale said...

Ally,

I completely understand what you're saying. I assure you, I have no sense of entitlement. I would just prefer a simple "no comment" if you can't give an honest answer. As a reporter, I am at the mercy of the information given to me, and I'm sure you can understand that I don't like essentially being a mouthpiece for misinformation. And I've said this before -- it's not about me. I honestly don't care. But my job is to inform you, the fans. And being given contradictory answers from one day to the next makes that job difficult. But it really comes down to what you guy want. It really doesn't matter one way or the other to me how Georgia prepared, I just want to give you the best information I can.