Might play 2011 opener in Georgia Dome
By SETH EMERSON
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia is on the verge of a major scheduling switch for a high-profile 2011 opener -- but the deal isn’t done yet.
Boise State and Georgia have been in discussions to play in the Chick-fil-A kickoff game, set for the Georgia Dome at the beginning of next year. A source at Louisville, which Georgia is scheduled to open against in 2011, said it understands that Georgia would like to explore moving or canceling the series.
Georgia coach Mark Richt repeatedly declined to comment after Thursday’s practice, even “hypothetically.” He said he was told not to comment, and declined again when asked about other SEC teams getting exposure by opening the season in Atlanta.
“I’ll tell you Monday,” Richt said, perhaps tipping off when he heard an announcement might happen.
Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity also declined to comment on the reports.
“I just can’t say anything right now,” McGarity said Thursday evening.
It wouldn’t be the first time Georgia has opened against Boise State. In 2005, the Bulldogs won at Sanford Stadium, 48-13.
Boise State, which hasn’t lost a game in two seasons, is ranked third in this week’s BCS standings. Its quarterback, Kellen Moore, a Heisman Trophy candidate, is a junior.
Georgia is scheduled to open the 2011 season at home against Louisville, as part of a home-and-home series that concludes in 2012.
The contract for the series stipulates that the cost of cancellation, unless it’s done by mutual consent, would be $600,000 per game.
So Georgia would appear to owe Louisville $1.2 million unless it negotiates a lower figure or reads the contract differently.
However, Georgia probably would make up the money easily: This year’s Chick-fil-A Classic in Atlanta paid each team, North Carolina and LSU, $2.3 million.
Boise State received $1.25 million to play Virginia Tech in Landover, Md., to open this season. Virginia Tech received $2.5 million, in a game organized by the Washington Redskins.
Mississippi, which was scheduled to face Boise State in the 2011 opener, was set to make a major scheduling announcement Thursday, according to athletics director Pete Boone. But Boone said on Twitter later in the day that there were “a lot of moving parts.”
ESPN appears to be the driving force, so those moving parts probably involve finding new games for Louisville, BYU and Mississippi.
If it happens, it would be the second bold scheduling move made by McGarity since taking over in August. He immediately canceled, by mutual consent, a series with Oregon scheduled for 2015-16.