Respectfully, I disagree with Mergz.
Due to the length of the response, I am posting independently rather than commenting on the original. It makes sense to read Mergz Cupcakes post first, it's just below.
First and foremost, all UF programs are about winning SEC championships, as AD Foley has repeatedly stated. SEC championships are one of the primary benchmarks by which our coaches are evaluated.
Within this context, the scheduling Ass. AD must keep in mind that our first SEC game is always UT, half the time an away game. Thus, the goal must be to prepare the team, allow it to work the kinks out during the first couple of games, let the coaches test the rotations and let some of the 3rd teamers get some playing time in case they are called upon once the brutality of the SEC schedule takes its toll on the 1st and 2nd teamers.
It is the scheduling Ass. ADs job to set us up for an SEC run, and hopefully more, not satisfy the idle urges of bored alumni who want to chew peyote in the Arizona desert.
Our strength of schedule, for the foreseeable future, is fine simply playing an 8 game SEC schedule, f$u and, hopefully, the SEC championship game. So that's not a factor to be considered. If the SEC ever turns into the ACC, a policy change would be warranted. We have made it to the BCS NC twice in the last 3 years with a blemish. While I haven't gone to the BCS website yet to evaluate UF's recent strength of schedule history, our failure to schedule quality opponents during the cupcake portion of the schedule has cost us nothing.
Our alumni and wallet must be considered.
The truth of the matter is that we really can't afford to give up a home game every other year as would be required with most quality opponents. While our athletic budget is greater than $100M annually, we are paying approximately $9M per year in salaries to Donovan, Meyer and Foley. Giving up that game foregoes 90,000x$40.00 plus UF's percentage of the concessions. It is unlikely that we will be paid $4M, or anything approaching that, by our opponent; even the uberwealthy Notre Flame. This year, UAA contributed around $6M of their "profit" to UF. Of necessity, the lost revenue from gallavanting around will come right off the top of that contribution at a time when UF is experiencing deep budget cuts and needs it most.
Like it or not, the beast must be fed.
And UGA is not immune to this need. As we have read in the past, the UGA administration has expressed dismay that the campus shuts down the thursday and friday before WLOCP as well as concerns that the travel distance gives UF a competitive advantage. Let there be no mistake, the City of Jacksonville applied a green poultice to those wounds when wrenching this week's 6 year extension out of UGA. Both institutions stand to lose a great deal of $$$$ on a home-and-away. My suspicion, especially after UGA's opening loss to Oklahoma State, is that they will schedule less non-cupcake season openers. Not only is UGA much weaker defensively, the offense had to replace key personnel, including QB Stafford (1st round), RB Moreno (1st round) and WR Massoquoi (2nd round).
This proved difficult as noted by Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald:
"Two weeks after its offense seemed stuck in a rut, Georgia players can't help but be struck by how far they've come as they prepare for Saturday's visit from Arizona State.
In no time at all, Georgia went from relying too heavily on a scarce few players in a humbling 24-10 defeat at Oklahoma State to finding playmakers all over the field in Saturday's 52-41 win against Arkansas.
"We were talking (Saturday) on the bus after the game like, 'What were we doing that week?' " quarterback Joe Cox said. "There were just so many people. It doesn't even feel like it happened. It just feels so weird that that game, it just kind of flew by and we were like, 'What was that?'
"And now looking back, it really disappoints you knowing that you can play a lot better and what could have happened if you would have played like that against them."
Leaning heavily on the trio of tailback Richard Samuel, receiver A.J. Green and Cox, Georgia mustered just 257 yards of total offense against Oklahoma State."
And Oklahoma State just isn't that good. Their defense has given up an average of 26.3 points and 384 yards per game while their offense musters only 364 yards per game. Excluding UGA from the calculation and they have given up an average of 444 yards per game to Houston and Rice.
If you exclude Oklahoma State, UGA is averaging over 40 points per game.
Clearly, UGA figured some things out that should have been figured out against a cupcake.
UGA should be 3-0 and working on that defense. Instead, they are one, generously two, losses away from both SEC and national irrelevance.
I'm unconvinced that our alumni really want to traipse all over the country. I well remember the 2006 BCS NC game. By my rude estimation, about 30% of the Bull Gator tickets had been sold, in allotments of 6, to Ohio State fans. I recall that 6 together were going for $2,000/per seat. It became apparent to me that there were plenty of folks funding a large portion of the Bull Gator contribution through Stubhub (or the equivalent) sales of their ticket allotments. It was a pretty annoying sight. And that was during a strong economy and for the BCS NC.
On top of that, the early games coincide the commencement of the school year. Parents will be dealing with the normal chaos associated with re-acclimating their kids to the academic year and less likely to pack up the family for quick 3 or 4 day cross country trip.
There's injury exposure and the possibility of a loss before the team is working together properly, but those are obvious.
Would it be nice to wander about the country, see some sights and check out some other storied campuses? Sure.
But it does not advance our goals and is bad policy.
Oh, and the ASU Sun Wussies? They are 3-25 against ranked opponents since 2000. Why give such a team a home-and-away?
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Respectfully, I disagree with Mergz.