Happy Tuesday, folks. I'm about to head over to Stegeman for the first of Georgia's weekly media sessions, which is a delightful change of pace after a long preseason. Before we get to all that though, I wanted to take a minute to wrap up some of the discussion that began with my posts on scheduling yesterday.
I wrote two posts, both covering the aggressive non-conference slates Georgia has endured the past few seasons, and I was curious to find out how most fans felt about it, considering that Florida has gone in pretty much the opposite direction.
I'll admit, I was a bit surprised at the reaction, which has been about 2 to 1 in favor of the more difficult scheduling. A number of fans left comments or emailed me supporting Damon Evans' philosophy, and T Kyle King wrote an exceptional piece offering his view on the issue as well.
I should say, I still come out a bit in the middle on this. I wrote yesterday's posts for two reasons: 1.) With easily the biggest of those non-conference games looming this weekend, I thought it was a good time to revisit the issue, and 2.) I kind of wanted to play devil's advocate on the scheduling, given that Mark Richt's take seems to be so different from Evans'.
All of that is not to say I necessarily agree with Richt or Evans, although if I had to pick a side, I'd likely go with the coach over the administrator. I think my issue with the policy, however, has less to do with the arguments either Richt or Evans made, and more to do with a simple cost-benefit analysis based on what I've seen.
I think we all can agree that there is a price paid by the players and coaches each time they take the field. (Note: If you don't agree with that, then please never again use the bye week as an excuse for Florida's dominance in the Cocktail Party game.) It generally follows, too, that the stronger, faster and more dynamic the opponent is, the higher the price of playing that game in terms of the effort required to win. Certainly that's not always the case -- Jeff Owens' injury, for example, was an awfully steep price to pay for playing Georgia Southern. For the most part though, the toll it takes on a team to play an elite opponent is greater than that of a marginal one.
I would argue, too, that playing teams from outside your region also adds to the price of playing a game for several reasons.
Richt's quotes seemed to put the bulk of the emphasis on travel, but I think he's shortchanging himself. Yes, traveling to Arizona takes its toll. But there's more to it. When Georgia plays a regional team or an SEC team, there's a foundation of knowledge the coaches and players have. In many cases, the style of offense and defense played by those teams are familiar. In many cases, the players on the field are ones Georgia's coaches have watched film on for years and ones Georgia's players may have even gone up against as far back as high school. Even for the freshmen in the league, there's a good chance Georgia's coaches watched game film and highlights of those players during their recruitment. Regardless, it's a rare occasion in which the Bulldogs' preparations start from scratch.
For the games against teams from outside the region, however, it's a far different look. The starting point is much farther back, and the work it takes to prepare is more significant. I think that takes its toll on the players, and perhaps more importantly, it sets them up to take a deep breath and relax after the game is over, rather than immediately refocusing on the next challenge on the schedule. Maybe I'm way off on that theory, but psychologically it makes some sense, and from the players I've talked to this week, many are already working to ensure there won't be a let down following a potential win at Oklahoma State.
Bottom line: I think there is a steep cost to playing these games, but that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't be played. But when you look at the benefit Georgia has earned from taking on a dismal Arizona State or Colorado team, I think it's hard to make the argument that SO FAR the benefits in terms of national recognition have outweighed the cost of preparing for and playing in these tough out-of-region games.
Having said all that, I'll admit I was swayed a bit by hearing what so many fans had to say, and I was more than a bit impressed at the number of people who weren't willing to trade a competitive and entertaining regular-season slate for a better chance at a national title. I think a reader named Scott said it best: " I'd rather be guaranteed of watching an interesting matchup during the season than to hope for one at the end of the season."
I would have predicted more fans would say the opposite, but I guess that's why I wrote the post in the first place -- to find out. And it's good to know I can still be surprised by these things. It keeps me on my toes.
So, big thanks to everyone who commented, and as a reward, here are some links...
-- By now, I'm sure you've heard that OSU defensive back Perrish Cox was arrested for driving on a suspended license. I wouldn't get my hopes up that a suspension is forthcoming though.
-- Bulldog in Exile has a fantastic post up highlighting four plays that defined the 2008 season and what the carry over effect could be for this year.
-- The Hobnail Boot is back on the horse with some additional preseason prognostications.
-- Bernie looks at the situation in Ann Arbor and remembers what it was like around Athens when Mark Richt first arrived.
-- Rivals ranks the offensive coordinators around the country, and Mike Bobo finishes in the top 10. (h/t Frank)
-- I've gotten in a bad habbit of misplacing the names of people who have sent me links, so apologies to whomever passed this along: SI has a story on the preparations for the season at Georgia and Minnesota.
-- Battle Hymn Notes makes its triumphant return by noting that this year's Georgia team should be a heckuva lot less frustrating than last year's Georgia team.
-- As part of his Georgia coverage, former quarterback Eric Zeier has a new blog at GeorgiaDogs.com, starting with an entry on the start of the Bulldogs' season.
-- Rex Robinson looks at all the questions facing the Dawgs this season and thinks some of the answers will come in Stillwater.
-- David Paschall has a story about all the hype surrounding Oklahoma State this season. Does anyone here want to bet the Cowboys handle it better than Georgia did a year ago?
-- The AJC has a quick rundown of all you need to know about Oklahoma State.
-- The Red & Black has the transcripts of Mike Gundy's teleconference.
-- A South Carolina receiver is none too happy with his head coach.
-- It looks like Florida has identified its starting running back.
-- Vanderbilt has finally settled on a quarterback, and it's not Mackenzi Adams.
-- Pitchfork runs down its list of the 50 best music videos of the 2000s. They still make videos? Who shows them?
-- The start of football season also means the start of the new TV season, and this site has a printable calendar with the premier dates for every show this fall.
-- And finally, I know what you're going to say here: "But, Dave, didn't we already identify our bad idea for an '80s remake of the week? Well, you get a bonus pick this time around. You're welcome.OK, off to go chat with Coach Richt and Company. Plenty of additional updates coming today.