With the Southeastern Conference moving to a 10-game conference-only schedule for the upcoming season, the Georgia Bulldogs were forced to drop their rivalry game against Georgia Tech for the first time in nearly a century.
The SEC adopted its 10-game, conference-only format that was recommended by the league’s athletic directors.
With that format, the Bulldogs will not be able to play Georgia Tech for the first time since 1924.
The Atlantic Coast Conference, which Tech is a member of, adopted a schedule which would have allowed one non-conference matchup, which the Yellow Jackets would have likely scheduled with the Bulldogs.
The game was originally scheduled to be played in Athens the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day.
“The 10-game SEC schedule provides us the best opportunity to play football as safely as possible in a Covid environment,” Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said during a video conference with reporters. “It’s disappointing the schedule model does not make it possible to play Georgia Tech; however, we look forward to renewing that rivalry in 2021. I do want to commend Commissioner Sankey, his staff, and the university presidents and chancellors for their leadership in continuing to navigate these challenging issues.”
Most conferences have had to redo their schedules in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Georgia was hoping to keep its 127-year old rivalry with the Yellow Jackets intact.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s just the way everything fell,” McGarity said. “We’ll move forward and renew the rivalry next year.”
Although disappointied the teams will not play, Tech athletics director Todd Stansbury was understanding of the decision.
“While it’s certainly disappointing for our student-athletes, coaches and fans that we will not have our annual rivalry football game with Georgia this year, I also understand and respect the decision of the SEC,” Stansbury said. “We hope to finalize our non-conference opponent for the 2020 season in the near future and very much look forward to meeting Georgia again on the gridiron in 2021.”
Three other SEC teams have had to give up rivalry games to ACC opponents because of the schedule. Those games are Florida-FSU, Kentucky-Louisville and South Carolina-Clemson.
SEC teams this fall will play the five divisional opponents and two cross-divisional opponents on their previous schedules, then add two cross-division opponents to take the number of league games from eight to 10. The winners of each division will play in the SEC Championship game Dec. 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Georgia has played in the SEC title game the last three seasons.
Georgia is scheduled to play Alabama and Auburn as cross-over games.
“It was clear in our meeting today that this delay would be beneficial to our student-athletes and promote the safe and orderly return to campus for our student body in August,” UGA President Jere Morehead said in a statement released by UGA. “Having some separation between the earlier reopening of our campuses and the later start of the football season should be helpful.”