Bring on the Dawgs: Clemson playing Georgia is fun and it makes sense
|Friday, February 21, 2020, 7:32 AM- -|
Clemson and Georgia. The Tigers and the Dawgs. Tiger Rag and Glory, Glory. This is a good thing. This rivalry needs to be played.
The news broke Wednesday that Clemson and Georgia will open the 2021 season in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium. The Bulldogs and Tigers already were scheduled to open the 2024 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, followed by home-and-home contests at Clemson in 2029 and 2033 and at Georgia in 2030 and 2032.
But that isn’t enough, and I for one am thrilled that we get to see this rivalry in action sooner than 2024.
The Bulldogs and Tigers have played 64 times since 1897, most recently in a home-and-home series in 2013 and 2014. Georgia owns a 42-18-4 advantage in the series.
Georgia originally had been scheduled to open the 2021 season against San Jose State, and Clemson was slated to open against Wyoming. Clemson is paying Wyoming $1.1 million to opt out of the game and Georgia is paying San Jose St. $1.8 million to opt out.
Losing a home game means the Tigers will play only six games in 2021 – yes it hurts the local economy – but it makes sense on many levels. Let’s start with Clemson’s home schedule for 2021, which was lackluster because of the ACC’s scheduling policies regarding Notre Dame. Clemson has to visit Notre Dame in both 2020 and 2021. Those games don’t count as conference games, so Clemson can’t use the usual home-and-home scheduling formula.
For 2021, Clemson had home out-of-conference games against Wyoming, UConn and South Carolina State and a game at South Carolina. The four ACC home games are Florida State, Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest.
In a time when Clemson is competing for a spot in the College Football Playoff each season, adding Georgia and subtracting Wyoming (even at the cost of a home game) is a win for the Tigers. Clemson already faces scrutiny from the national media because of its schedule and the comparative weakness of the ACC. A close loss at a neutral site to Georgia might carry more weight than a blowout win over Wyoming at home. Clemson has always taken pride in scheduling to major out of conference games each season, and they get that with Notre Dame and South Carolina in both 2020 and 2022, but the scheduling oddity left a gap for 2021.
I attended the Board of Trustees meeting several days ago when the football staff salaries were announced and spoke with Athletic Director Dan Radakovich about scheduling possibilities. He was asked about the 2021 schedule and hinted at that time that something might be in the works.
“We always keep our ear to the ground. Are there other opportunities? But football schedules are being made 10, 12 and sometimes 15 years in advance and that makes it a little bit difficult,” Radakovich said. “But we aren't going to close the door on anything right up until the time we are ready to play that schedule. I look at 2021 and it is a little bit of an anomaly given what we've done over the last decade and what is in front of us after 2021. This 2021 circumstance occurred because we played Notre Dame here in 2015 and we are going back in 2020 for the back end of that home-and-home. That is a long-winded answer to say that we keep our ear to the ground to see if there are other opportunities that might be out there.”
Yes, there are a lot of great reasons for this game to be played. There are financial reasons and scheduling reasons and plenty of other reasons we can name, but the biggest reason (to me) is that this is one fantastic rivalry. Remember when Georgia had to take a peek? Remember David Treadwell’s game-winner?
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has long been a proponent of the two teams playing and told the media in 2018 he would love to see the two schools play every year.
“I think it’d be great for both fan bases," Swinney. "I’ve said that for a long time. We’re going to play somebody like that every year. We go to Texas A&M this year, then they come to us. We played Auburn a bunch of times. So I think that would be great.
"To me, it’d be great for the fan bases. You don’t really look forward to playing Georgia. There’s a good chance you can lose. But any time you step out of the conference and play the Texas A&Ms, Auburns, whoever else we play, those are big challenges, but that’s how we built our program. I would have no problem with it.”
The teams obviously aren’t scheduling each other every year, but 2021 is a good start. And, with both programs recruiting at a high level, meeting in the College Football Playoff might happen sooner rather than later. If so, that just adds to the drama of the rivalry.
Bring on the Dawgs.