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Georgia can’t hide anymore


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Goodman: With new schedules, Georgia can’t hide anymore

Updated: Dec. 14, 2023, 9:38 a.m.|Published: Dec. 14, 2023, 7:52 a.m.
6–7 minutes

This is an opinion column.


Tim Tebow made me laugh on Wednesday night because I know how much he dislikes Georgia.

The former quarterback for the Florida Gators doesn’t really hate anything in this world except maybe rest day away from the gym, but Georgia is up there.

A new day is here for the Southeastern Conference and Tebow helped introduce the league’s schedules for the 2024 football season during a live broadcast on the SEC Network. Oklahoma and Texas are joining the deep-fried Dixieland circus, but that’s not what really had my attention with the big reveals. Tebow was right there with me, and I give him credit for sliding some subtle shade Georgia’s way on national television.

Georgia had the easiest schedule of any national title contender this season, and the Bulldogs were then exposed by Alabama in the SEC championship game. Next season, the SEC is going to a one-division format. The Eastern and Western divisions of the league are history. Schedule difficulty is weighted fairly, and Georgia will be exposed to the level of competition that Alabama, Auburn and all the teams in the old SEC West endured for three decades.

Something tells me that the Bulldogs are going to miss playing Vanderbilt and South Carolina every season.

RELATED: Alabama’s 2024 schedule released

RELATED: Auburn’s 2024 schedule released

RELATED: See the full week-by-week SEC schedules

Georgia has one of the toughest schedules in the SEC next year. The league office did coach Kirby Smart no favors. The Bulldogs open at Kentucky and then play at Alabama before a home game against rival Auburn.

Georgia then plays host to Mississippi State before traveling to Austin for a game against Texas. The Longhorns are 4-1 all-time against the Bulldogs.

Georgia ends its SEC slate with a trio of toughness: its rivalry against Tebow’s Florida, at Ole Miss and then at home against Tennessee. In addition to its difficult conference schedule, the Bulldogs open the season against Clemson in Atlanta.

The SEC’s new schedules aren’t perfect, but they’re fair in a way that the old two-division system never could be. I’ll be shocked if Georgia survives its gauntlet. The good news for the Bulldogs is that two losses along the way shouldn’t completely close off a chance at the new 12-team playoff.

Despite Georgia’s grueling path in 2024, Tebow still delivered a soft jab at the Bulldogs when breaking down the SEC’s group of games on Week 14. That’s Rivalry Week in college football, and while Texas will be at Texas A&M, Auburn goes to Tuscaloosa and Florida visits Florida State, the weary Georgia Bulldogs finally get a break with rival Georgia Tech.

Not the toughest way to end the season, noted Tebow.

There are plenty of ways to analyze and break down these new schedules. Start with the overall appeal for fans. Texas and Oklahoma raise the reputation of the SEC to a new height. The SEC will remain the most compelling conference in college football despite the coast-to-coast footprint of the new Big Ten.

Going inside the matchups, a few things grabbed my initial attention. Most notably, Alabama plays at Oklahoma before the Iron Bowl and Auburn hosts Texas A&M. Those are significant wrinkles for the Tide and Tigers.

Another observation: LSU has the easiest schedule of all. The Tigers begin conference play against South Carolina and have open dates before Ole Miss and Alabama. In addition to those breaks, LSU has Vanderbilt before ending the season against Oklahoma.

Based on schedules, LSU is one of my early favorites to make the 2024 SEC championship game.

Texas and Oklahoma think they’re ready for the hell that awaits them in the college football heaven known as the Southeastern Conference.

They are not.

Welcome to the party, though. The SEC is where every game feels like the combination of a live concert, cookout, fashion show, family reunion, whiskey bender and state fair all in one. The league office did OU a favor by allowing the Sooners to host LSU for its final game of the season. Next year? Prepare accordingly, OU, for that road trip to Baton Rouge. And by “prepare accordingly” we mean don’t go there with children or without an escape plan that includes either pepper spray or someone familiar with the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga.

And that’s just for day games, by the way. There’s an entirely different set of rules for games at night at LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

The big winner of the new schedules? It might be Auburn. The Tigers begin conference play with home games against Arkansas and Oklahoma and then take on Georgia after the Bulldogs’ trip to Tuscaloosa.

The big loser? Unquestionably, it’s the Bulldogs. Georgia can’t hide anymore.

It’s not all bad for the ‘Dawgs, though. At least this way the rest of the league will finally begin recognizing their coach’s winning percentage against conference foes as a legitimate statistic.

Oh, and there’s always Georgia Tech.

Joseph Goodman is the lead sports columnist for the Alabama Media Group, and author of the most controversial sports book ever written, “We Want Bama”. It’s a love story about wild times, togetherness and rum.

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