The Bulldogs, along with every other Division I-A team, found themselves with a slot to fill after this week’s announcement that the NCAA Board of Directors has approved a 12th game for all major football schools. Georgia athletics director Damon Evans and senior associate athletics director Frank Crumley anticipated the outcome of the vote and talked with representatives from Colorado before the legislation passed.
“We had some preliminary conversations, and they were going to get back to us,” Crumley said. “It was all up to them, and it was all depending on the 12-game schedule. We were interested, and they seemed to be interested.” Colorado athletics director Mike Bohn could not be reached for comment. Bohn was hired this month to replace Dick Tharp and won’t take over permanently until Monday, so he hasn’t had much time to deal with scheduling issues, but Colorado director of football operations David Hansburg said he knows the Bulldogs are interested in a game.
Arthur Johnson was hired by Evans in February as Georgia’s associate athletics director for internal operations and has been leading the Bulldogs’ scheduling efforts since then. Johnson was hired away from the University of Texas, where he was special assistant to Longhorns coach Mack Brown, and therefore had frequent discussions with Hansburg. The two have talked recently about a Bulldogs-Buffaloes matchup.
“He |mentioned |to |me| that| they are very interested in a game,” Hansburg said. If a deal isn’t reached with the Buffaloes soon, the Bulldogs may reach out to Missouri or Colorado State, Crumley said. Georgia officials have talked to Michigan and Ohio State in past years about scheduling games, but it’s doubtful they’ll try that avenue again.
“They weren’t interested before so I don’t know if that would change,” Crumley said.
It’s also doubtful Georgia will resume its home-and-home series against Clemson anytime in the immediate future. Evans also has talked to Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione in the past, but it’s unknown if the two schools will have any further talks about a game.
Whoever the Bulldogs schedule, Evans is a fan of the addition of the 12th game, he said.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It will give us an opportunity to schedule some more home-and-home contests with some opponents we wouldn’t be able to schedule otherwise.”
The NCAA also approved this week legislation that immediately allows NCAA schools to count victories over I-AA teams toward bowl eligibility every year rather than every four years, which has been the rule. The new rule gives schools the option of using their 12th game to schedule a Division I-AA team, which means an almost certain victory and an additional home game each year. Although Georgia makes $1.5 and $1.8 million per home game, that’s not the way the school wants to go, Evans said.
“We don’t want to over-schedule ourselves, but we will look at some teams we haven’t been able to schedule in the past,” he said. “I still think you have to be very mindful of how you’re perceived when you play a I-AA team instead of a I-A team.”
Evans pointed out that many people suggested Auburn’s game against The Citadel last year may have cost the Tigers a shot at playing in the national championship because it hurt the team’s strength of schedule.
“(The BCS polls say) that they don’t measure strength of schedule," Evans said. "But I do think when people are looking at that ... they may say, ‘OK, we’re going to give the team that played all I-A opponents a higher ranking than one that played a I-AA opponent.’”
“I think the direction we’ll go is to try to get some home-and-homes, and maybe a seventh (home) game once in a while,” Crumley said.
The Bulldogs currently have 11 games on their 2006 schedule, the regular eight SEC games plus out-of-conference games against Georgia Tech, Central Florida and UAB. They already have a 12th game for the 2008 and 2009 seasons since those years were already scheduled for an extra game. Georgia will play at Arizona State in 2008 and then host the Sun Devils in 2009.
As for the 2006 spot, Georgia would like to get something done as soon as possible, Evans said.
“We’d like to get something in place before this season starts,” he said. “That would be the ideal.”