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Realignment Impact on Georgia’s Schedule

Realignment Impact

The conference realignment carousel never sleeps. Reports came out Thursday evening that the Big 12 reached an agreement with Texas and Oklahoma to allow them to leave the conference in July 2024. Texas and Oklahoma restarted the realignment carousel in the summer of 2021 when they announced their intentions to join the SEC. The CFB realignment impact has been felt far and wide across FBS football.

The move set off a chain reaction that’s seen the Pac-12 and Big 12 on the verge of imploding. Kevin Warren and the Big Ten joined the arms race by looking his fellow Alliance member in the eye and taking the top two universities from the California sunshine. The Big 12, AAC, Conference USA, and Sun Belt have played musical chairs, hoping not to be left standing without a place. The SEC and Georgia have not yet felt the impact. The news Thursday changes that. Before looking at the impact, let’s dig deeper into what it will cost Texas and Oklahoma to leave.

Oklahoma and Texas’s Bill

It just means more. We’ve heard this chant at many Georgia games, at SEC FanFare at the Georgia World Congress Center, and on Twitter. The mantra is a badge of honor for SEC fans and makes SEC naysayers’ skin crawl. Boosters and administrators in Austin and Norman heard the calls and realized things needed to change. The results on the field showed that the gap was growing.

Texas hasn’t played for a national championship since 2010 and has yet to make an appearance in the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma hasn’t played for a national championship since they last won one in 2000. The Sooners are winless in four CFP games and have been largely uncompetitive outside the 2018 Rose Bowl against Georiga.

Texas and Oklahoma were originally locked into the Big 12 until 2025. Dellinger’s report estimated that the two schools will owe the eight remaining Big 12 schools roughly $100 million for breaking the contract early. While that may seem like a lot, the universities got a pretty good deal according to Stewart Mandel of The Athletic. “The by-the-books penalty for OU and UT would have been 2 years of distributions, which based on recent Big 12 payouts, would have been $85-$90M each.” With the calendar set, let’s look at how the moves impact Georgia.

Realignment Impact: SEC East 

Georgia’s won 10 conference championships since the SEC went to divisions in 1992. Flordia has the most at 13. A regular criticism of Georgia, when compared to Alabama, is that they play in the “easier” division. The SEC West is arguably the strongest conference in college football. Texas and Oklahoma’s entrance to the SEC will see divisions and this argument likely go away.

Administrators will meet this spring to determine the number of conference games and what schedules will look like going forward. Conference games are likely to increase from eight to nine games. Three permanent opponents and rotating through six other teams will replace divisions. Fans and season ticket holders will rejoice at these moves. Higher quality home games and teams playing each other home and away twice in a four-year period will be a welcome change. Georgia and Texas A&M have met once since the Aggies joined the conference in 2012.

 Permanent Opponent Candidates

Who will be Georgia’s three permanent opponents? Here are five teams that the committee will most likely consider:

  • Florida Gators: We can all have a cocktail and agree that Georgia and Florida must be protected. Georgia leads the all-time series 54-44-2. Now if we can only get the games to be played “between the hedges” and at The Swamp.
  • Auburn Tigers: The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. Georgia leads the series 63-56-8.
  • Tennessee Volunteers: This rivalry had not one, but two songs about it in 2022. Hard to believe this wasn’t a regular rivalry until 1992. Georgia leads the all-time series 27-23-2.
  • South Carolina Gamecocks: Another potential SEC candidate. Georgia has dominated South Carolina in the series 54-19-2.
  • Texas Longhorns: Georgia and Texas don’t have much of a history. Unlike the other teams on this list, Georgia is 1-4 all-time against Texas. This one is more about bragging rights. Georgia and Texas high school football coaches both boast of having the best high school football. Why not carry that feud to Athens and Austin every year?

Realignment Impact: 2023 Nonconference Schedule

The biggest victim in Oklahoma and Texas’s move to the SEC is Georgia’s 2023 nonconference schedule. Georgia and Oklahoma agreed to a home-and-home series in 2019. The first of the matchups was going to be in Norman this season with the Sooners would make a return trip to Athen in 2031. With the imminent arrival of Oklahoma, the two schools decided to cancel the contract on the series. Georgia replaced the Sooners with Ball State (insert sad trombone). No offense to the Cardinals, they are a fine MAC team but don’t do much to move the needle in terms of fan or television excitement.

Were there better alternatives or were Josh Brooks and Kirby Smart more interested in a buy game? We would be hard-pressed to see that not be the case, especially with Clemson, UCLA, Ohio State, Florida State, and Louisville all coming on the schedule in the next five years. Georgia’s 2024 schedule and beyond no doubt will have plenty of fireworks, too bad we are going to have to deal with the dud that 2023 appears to be.


Realignment Impact

Photo courtesy: Marc Weiszer/Athens Banner-Herald / USA TODAY NETWORK


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