There are bad times to schedule Georgia Tech…
Georgia Tech is an in-state rival and there’s rightfully bad blood between Georgia and Georgia Tech. It is an all-encompassing sports rivalry that unfortunately takes a backseat during Basketball Season because of the calendar. College basketball programs get approximately eight weeks to cram Final Exams, Christmas Break, Thanksgiving and 13 non-conference basketball games. Many of these 13 non-conference games are played at home, which creates scheduling nightmares. There’s even a site that exists that serves as a Match.com for College Basketball programs looking to schedule dates and tournaments.
The nature of the beast that is the College Basketball schedule will almost always include a neutral site tournament to an amenable destination during the non-conference part of the season. In the case of Georgia, this means the MGM Grand Main Event. Georgia would play two games in Las Vegas and one game at Stegeman Coliseum that are associated with this tournament. This tournament typically takes place during Thanksgiving Week.
Georgia-Georgia Tech is a major rivalry and naturally the goal is to encourage a partisan crowd for home games. This mission was certainly not accomplished the last time Georgia and Georgia Tech faced off in Athens. This game in Athens was the weekend of the Auburn Football game in Auburn. Many fans and students already ventured out to Auburn or were making last minute preparations to head to Auburn. A basketball game, even against Georgia Tech, was not a concern. Even though the game was a ticketed sell out, the actual attendance was clearly not.
Guard Kenny Gaines (12) shoots against Yellow Jackets guard Travis Jorgenson (10). Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Guard Charles Mann (4) works against Yellow Jackets guard/forward Marcus Georges-Hunt (3). Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Since the Auburn Football game and Georgia Tech Basketball game are not both home games during the same season anymore because of short-sightedness, no “good time” to schedule Georgia Tech exists. UGA cannot (more like should not) schedule Tech as the first game of the season in Athens because the turnout will be poor and the home environment will be considerably weaker. Scheduling the second week of the season and Thanksgiving is also not a possibility because of both the holiday and tournament play.
Then what follows in scheduling is a complete mess for both Georgia and Georgia Tech because both schools have to coordinate Final Exam schedules. When it is all said and done, Georgia and Georgia Tech have to play during the Christmas Break, when the students are out of town. This is what happened for this upcoming season as Georgia and Georgia Tech will face off on December 19 at Stegeman Coliseum. This is not a good time to schedule this game, but it beats having the two programs face off in competition with a football game weekend in a road city that’s close, but too far away to actually make both trips within 18 hours.
Georgia and Georgia Tech probably could have scheduled their game during the first week of January prior to the start of ACC and SEC Conference play. Georgia would have the freed up scheduling space and the ACC exhibited a flexible start to the conference season in December by getting the season started for a few programs a bit earlier than the rest. How amenable the ACC would be to this sort of a scheduling proposal and whether the UGA Athletic Association prefers to leave the week devoid of major rivalry activity as it is around the time of the College Football Playoff would be a mystery. The SEC-Big 12 Challenge in late January should have freed up the space for the two schools to play in early January just when the students are coming back into town to start Spring Semester.
College Basketball scheduling is difficult and Clean Old Fashioned Hate suffers for it, but the UGA Athletic Association made it far too challenging by changing up the football schedule and removing an opportunity to have a big rivalry weekend.