Georgia-Clemson football series up in the air

semerson@macon.comMarch 21, 2012 

ATHENS -- Georgia and Clemson want to play each other in football as scheduled. Whether that still happens is in the hands of Clemson and the ACC.

The two teams are scheduled to renew their rivalry by opening the season against each other in 2013 and 2014, with Clemson hosting in 2013. But those plans have been complicated by the ACC’s decision to move to a nine-game schedule with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Since it’s not certain when those two will begin play in the ACC, the conference hasn’t decided when the nine-game schedule will kick in.

Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips said he wants to keep the series but also has to weigh financial constraints.

“It has become a recent issue with the ACC’s decision to play a ninth conference game,” Phillips said in a statement. “We want to play Georgia in 2013-14, but we also would like to continue to play seven home games each year from a budgetary standpoint. Nothing has been decided at this point, and we will continue discussions with Georgia.”

Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity said he called Phillips recently to find out if Georgia needed to think about alternative plans. McGarity said he and Phillips have had two “very brief” conversations.

“We’re just in the discussion stage right now,” McGarity said. “I’m just trying to get educated basically on when the ACC will go to nine games and how does that affect our series. ... As you look down the road, is it happening in ’13, is it happening in ’14, because if and when it happens, we need to be able to fill a spot. Clemson may say, ‘Hey we want to continue to play,’ which will be fine with us.”

Georgia is also waiting to find out the SEC’s scheduling philosophy for 2013 and beyond, but it will apparently not have to deal with a nine-game schedule. The expectation, according to several high-ranking sources, is that the SEC will keep an eight-game schedule. Those sources also expect Georgia and Auburn to continue their annual rivalry.

But as other conferences go to nine-game schedules, that complicates non-conference scheduling for SEC teams. McGarity also wondered aloud if Ohio State would still want to play their scheduled series (2020-21) if the Big Ten goes to nine games.

“I mean, who knows,” he said. “In our former models before expansion, yes, that was something we wanted to do, was periodically play another non-conference game against a team like Clemson, like Ohio State. But now with the dynamics shifting you really don’t know right now.”

Georgia and Clemson, located about 75 miles apart, last played in 2003. They played almost every year between 1897-1987, then took a two-year break and played four times in the 1990s. Georgia has won the past five meetings and leads the all-time series, 41-17-4.

“It’s one game that Georgia fans were looking forward to, so I think the rivalry being renewed every now and then is something everybody was looking forward to,” McGarity said. “So we just have to wait to see what Clemson can do.”

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