Georgia has a unique scheduling arrangement, in that the Bulldogs play an annual neutral site game against Florida and an annual non-conference rivalry series with Georgia Tech. It’s a reality shared only with Florida, who ends each regular season with Florida State in addition to annual trips to Jacksonville. Unlike Florida, who almost never leaves the state in non-conference play, Georgia has never been afraid to spend its Septembers leaving the South.
The Bulldogs visited Notre Dame in 2017, went to Oklahoma State in 2009, and trekked to Arizona State in 2007. In 2015, Georgia agreed to a home-and-home with UCLA in 2025-26.
That ethos has been altered in the regime change from Mark Richt to Kirby Smart — it’s been ramped up tremendously.
In the past six months alone, Georgia has announced home-and-homes with Texas (2028-29), Florida State (2027-28), Oklahoma (2023, ’31) and multiple home-and-homes with on-again/off-again rival Clemson (2029-30, 2032-33).
Discerning eyes will notice Georgia has double booked itself in 2028 and ’29. In 2028, Georgia will open at Texas and host Florida State two weeks after that. A year later, the Dawgs open at home against Texas, then visit Clemson in Week 3. All of this is in addition to a regular SEC East schedule, the annual crossover game with Auburn, an additional game against an SEC West opponent and the finale against Georgia Tech. If everything falls as it’s supposed to, Georgia will then play the SEC West champion in Atlanta, and that’s before playing two of the three best teams in the country en route to a national championship.
If this were any other program, the Texas home-and-home would get booted out to 2050 or beyond, but at Georgia, playing two major non-conference opponents each September is the goal.
As Seth Emerson reports for The Athletic, Georgia is working to line up an ACC opponent to play in 2026-27; that’s when the Bulldogs are already scheduled to host UCLA (’26) and visit Florida State (’27).
Rest assured, this scheduling philosophy was not thrust upon the football program by some bean-counting, pencil-pushing assistant AD looking to pull the rest of the athletics department out of debt at the football team’s expense. For one, Georgia could make more money doing what Alabama has done for the last decade: Play a neutral site game in Atlanta or Dallas, then never leave your home stadium. But more importantly, Georgia’s All-Madden scheduling mode is being driven by Kirby Smart himself.
Kirby Smart and Josh Lee, Georgia’s football operations director, are the driving forces who are planning and executing Georgia’s scheduling now. Seen some mention of the athletic apartment, but it’s now being done out of the football office. https://t.co/HKS98b5yAf
— Seth Emerson (@SethWEmerson) May 7, 2019
“If I want to have the best players, I want to play the best teams,” Smart told The Athletic. “They come to college to play big games. I would never name anybody, but they don’t want to play the little sisters of the poor.”
While expertly difficult scheduling may serve to build Georgia’ overall team strength, it will not necessarily strengthen the Bulldogs’ College Football Playoff chances. Five seasons in to the new system, CFP selection committee members have largely behaved like AP and Coaches’ poll voters did before them, where resumes begin and end with the number of games your team lost. In 2016, a 1-loss Ohio State that did not win its division was put in the Playoff over a 2-loss Penn State that won the Big Ten and beat Ohio State head-to-head, and in 2017 a 1-loss Alabama that also did not win its own division made the field while a 2-loss, Big Ten champion Ohio State did not.
Last December, the selection committee pushed Georgia from No. 4 to No. 5 on Selection Sunday for the sin of losing to No. 1 Alabama by a touchdown on a neutral field.
The lesson, especially for SEC schools, has been to avoid as many losses as you can and everything will take care of itself. You’re in the SEC, after all. Kirby Smart has grabbed ahold of the wheel and is actively steering the car into as many boulders as he can find. (Again, consider a hypothetical 2029 schedule that would see Georgia play Texas, Clemson, LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, Georgia Tech and Alabama before Selection Sunday.)
This is undoubtedly a good thing for college football as a whole — everyone would rather see Georgia play Florida State instead of Florida Atlantic — even if it may be a bad thing for Georgia individually.
So, I again refer to the title of this article: Is Kirby Smart insane?
I ask the question not in a mocking, condescending way, but out of admiration. I ask it in the way people probably asked Edmund Hillary if he was insane when he told them he was going to try to become the first person to climb the world’s tallest mountain.
An admirable goal, one that will benefit all of mankind if you can pull it off, they assuredly thought, but you’re probably going to kill yourself trying.