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Post Schedule might hurt tailgating more than Adams ever could

Friday August 25, 2006

Georgia fans have a wary eye on gameday changes planned for campus this football season, but it might be a year or two before those changes butt heads with the big game Georgia tailgating scene. For which games on this year’s schedule would you really want to show up before 7 a.m.?

Think about the typical football season. Remember Tennessee in 1998 or LSU in 2004? Even Auburn last year? We’re all familiar with those "arrive on Thursday" games where you can sense the electricity on campus at mid-week. The game might be a night kickoff, or it might just be significant enough to start the tailgate well in advance no matter what time the game kicks off (LSU 2004 was one of those).

Now look at this year’s home schedule:

  • Western Kentucky: 12:30 kickoff. 1-AA. See you at 10 a.m. Students, see you at 3 p.m.
  • UAB: another late-arriving crowd.
  • Colorado: interesting.
  • Tennessee: we’ll come back to this one.
  • Vandy: Homecoming, which means no later than a 1:00 start.
  • Miss. St.: can’t see much build-up for this one.
  • Tech: it’s cold. Though the Tech game always brings out a good tailgate, the weather will mean it starts on Saturday and no sooner.

There are two games to talk about. First is Colorado. This won’t create the stir of someone like Oklahoma coming to town, but it is still an interesting matchup of BCS conference teams. Colorado doesn’t have an especially large and rabid fan base that will invade Athens on Wednesday, so this tailgate is pretty much up to us. It could take on some importance if the Buffalos have an impressive start to the season, but I don’t see this one getting to the level of most big SEC games.

That brings us to Tennessee. In previous years, the Tennessee game would produce some huge tailgates. 1998 brought Gameday to Athens. Unreal scene. 2000 saw a night game and a chance to end the streak. It was wild, and the celebration continued well into the morning hours. In 2002, we were flying high and ready to claim the SEC after proving we were "man enough" at Bama. But starting in 2004, the post-LSU hangover made the Tennessee game less of an event. The Vols’ performance in 2005 took even more wind out of the sails. I’m afraid that if the Vols don’t come into this game at 4-1 or better, we’ll lose our only shot all year for a really good tailgating scene. Add in rumors that the game might be picked up by CBS at noon, and things deteriorate rapidly.

Now before we get all conspiratorial and say this is President Adams’ grand plan, several things could happen to make things more interesting. Television might make some games start later, and some game might end up taking on more importance than it seems to now. And there will always be bigger games down the road where Athens is the place to be. Just not this year. When Adams or whoever claims victory for the changes put into place this year, just put a copy of the schedule in front of them and ask, "what exactly did you expect?"

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