Georgia-Clemson series in peril (updated with comments from both sides)

semerson@macon.comMarch 20, 2012 

ATHENS - Amidst all the talk of future SEC football schedules, Georgia now also has to deal with an important non-conference series being up in the air.

Clemson and Georgia are scheduled to renew their rivalry by opening the season against each other in 2013 and 2014. But those plans have been complicated by the ACC's decision to move to a nine-game schedule with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The question is when: It hasn't been determined when Pitt and Syracuse will join the ACC, thus Clemson doesn't know yet when it will need to move a game.

Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity said he called his Clemson counterpart, Terry Don Phillips, to find out if Georgia needed to think about alternative plans. McGarity said he and Phillips have had two "very brief" conversations.

"Terry Don and I, we're just in the discussion stage right now," McGarity said. "I'm just trying to get educated basically on when the ACC will go to nine games and how does that affect our series. ... As you look down the road, is it happening in '13, is it happening in '14, because if and when it happens, we need to be able to fill a spot. Clemson may say 'Hey we want to continue to play,' which will be fine with us."

Clemson's Phillips had this to say in a statement:

 “I have discussed the 2013-14 Georgia series with Athletic Director Greg McGarity.  It has become a recent issue with the ACC’s decision to play a ninth conference game.   We want to play Georgia in 2013-14, but we also would like to continue to play seven home games each year from a budgetary standpoint. Nothing has been decided at this point and we will continue discussions with Georgia."

There are a lot of moving parts, because Georgia is still waiting to find out the SEC's scheduling philosophy for 2013 and beyond. According to several high-ranking SEC officials, the Georgia-Auburn series is safe, and a new scheduling philosophy will be announced sometime before the league's summer meetings in Destin. The expectation, also according to several high-ranking sources, is that the SEC will keep an eight-game schedule.

But as other conferences go to nine game schedules, that complicates non-conference scheduling for SEC teams. McGarity also wondered aloud if Ohio State would still want to play their scheduled series (2020-21) if the Big Ten goes to nine games.

"I mean, who knows," he said. "In our former models before expansion, yes, that was something we wanted to do, was periodically play another non-conference game against a team like Clemson, like Ohio State. But now with the dynamics shifting you really don't know right now."

As for Clemson, the game appears to be in a holding pattern until the ACC's schedule gets resolved. McGarity made clear he hopes to keep the game, but wants to be ready in case it has to be moved on the schedule or canceled outright.

"It's one game that Georgia fans were looking forward to, so I think the rivalry being renewed every now and then is something everybody was looking forward to," McGarity said. "So we just have to wait to see what Clemson can do."

 

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