My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Football Talk with Damon Evans

I had a post yesterday talking with Damon Evans about the recent war of words among SEC coaches that has touched on salaries for assistants and recruiting.

We also managed to chat about a few other football-related topics from this year's G-Day game to the future of the Georgia-Florida series. Here's what he had to say...

Hale: One of the big bits of news to come out of this offseason is that ESPN will broadcast Georgia's G-Day game this year. How did that deal come about, and what does it mean for the program?

Evans: It's huge to me. I'll tell you where it first hit me. I was sitting in the barbershop getting my hair cut on a Saturday, and I look up and Florida's spring game is on ESPN. And you know what right away I'm picking up the phone calling asking why we aren't on ESPN, calling our people. I've got the guys in the barbershop saying, 'Hey Damon, you can't get us on TV?' I looked at that and I think that's the only college football on that day, and my mind is just racing at what great exposure that would be. That's when we started working on it.

I'll be candid I wanted us to play our spring game on ESPN because I think it's great exposure for our program. I think our program is deserving of that, and I want people to be talking about Georgia football. That was extremely significant for me. I talked to Mark about it. He's excited. It's going to be a good thing. That's national TV, man. To have your spring game on national TV, that means people on the West coast can see it, people up north, Midwest. That's what it's all about. I've always talked about growing our presence nationally, and this is one way, another step in doing that.

DH: Another way you have marketed the program is through some interesting non-conference scheduling. Certainly Georgia's schedule this year looks a bit tougher than some other places. What is your reaction to criticism that perhaps you've set too tough a slate for the team?

DE: I'll make no bones about it our schedule is tough this year coming up. You never know what a team is going to be when you put them on the schedule. Everybody said Arizona State was going to be tough and they didn't turn out to be the team we thought they were going to be. But they were still a formidable opponent, a good Pac-10 opponent, they just weren't ranked as high as we thought they were going to be. But it was an exciting time at Arizona State. I haven't met a person yet who said it wasn't a great trip, who said it wasn't a great game. I remember Kirk Herbstreit saying, 'This is what Georgia needs to do.' I've always believed that and I will continue to believe that we need to continue to step out of this region. That's why Oklahoma State, that's why Arizona State, that's why Colorado.

Some might say, 'Damon, it's too tough.' Maybe it is, but I'm not so sure. When you schedule those games, you don't know how it's going to play out. I know we're in a tough conference but I want to get around and help grow that presence nationally, and I have confidence in us to be able to compete and beat those opponents, so that's the route I'm going to continue to go. I'm going to make sure I be mindful of our coach's wishes and his thoughts because I know he sees things a little bit different sometimes, and I've got to understand that.

DH: I think historically, some of your best seasons have come when you've opened against a tough opponent.

DE: I tend to think, this is my humble opinion and I could be wrong, but you learn a lot more about your team when you open up with a tough opponent. The other thing, some people will say if you open with an easier opponent it gives you a chance to get ready for that next tough opponent. I'll tell you this: Playing Oklahoma State, it's going to be tough, and we will know what it's like to play a tough game right away, and we'll be going into another tough game the next week against South Carolina, but I'm confident in Mark, I'm confident in our players, and sometimes you've got to get out there and play the better teams in the country.

DH: You mentioned the opener against Oklahoma State. During Signing Day, Coach Richt discussed that he would have liked to play that game on a Thursday night. Instead, ESPN will show the South Carolina-NC State game. Was it ever a consideration for you to play that game midweek?

DE: We don't play Thursday night football. We won't play Thursday night football. That's our stance right now, and I've talked to Mark about that. I just, that goes against the philosophy of this institution.

DH: OK, but given what you were saying about the G-Day game and gaining exposure for the team, wouldn't playing a Thursday night game before a national audience when you are essentially the only game on TV fit that same bill?

DE: I don't want to sacrifice, that's where you've got to understand, there are other things that come into factor and I don't like to go away from the values that I have, and one of the values is education and being mindful of the academic side of the equation.

Let's say you're playing a Thursday night game at home, does that not disrupt this campus? You have a Thursday night game at home, when do RVs start coming in? At least Wednesday, right? That disrupts campus. Kids want to go to the game might not go to class Thursday, and then if they're out at the game, might not go to class Friday.

Away, I still think there are academic implications. I believe students will go to the game at Oklahoma State, and to go there, that means you have to leave during the week, and chances are, you're not coming back (Friday). I go back and say this: I think that for us, we don't need to do that. I want to be mindful of what goes on on campus. I know you've heard about the fall break for the Georgia-Florida game.

It's just something that, this has been a philosophy of ours for a long time in which we had said even in the negotiations of the television contracts that we would not play Thursday night football. There are some other institutions in this league that have said they would not play Thursday night football. We're going to stand by that. It was done before I was here, and that's the philosophy that I have. I respect what Mark's opinion is, but at the end of the day, Thursday night football is not in the cards for the University of Georgia.

DH: Well one other scheduling question: What's the status of the annual Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville. There has been talk of moving the series -- at least every other year -- to Georgia. Have you made any progress in making that happen?

DE: I'm not going to play my hand right now, but we'll continue to look at it. We'll continue to assess the Jacksonville situation, and I think at the end of the day we've got to make a decision that's going to be appropriate. I know that's one of those political answers, but right now we're just going to continue to assess the situation there and make some decisions, but right now we have not come to one.

No comments: