The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry may be changing its traditional playing date.
Georgia and Auburn coaches have recently made public comments to stagger the game so Auburn doesn’t have to play both Alabama and Georgia on the road every other year, and Georgia doesn’t have road games against Auburn and Georgia Tech every other year.
The SEC’s expansion in 2012 forced several changes in the conference schedule, including Georgia having to travel to Auburn in both 2012 and 2013
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart recently stated he would like to see Auburn return the favor and have the Tigers come to Athens in back-to-back years.
“Yeah, absolutely. If we get a chance to fix that and return the favor that we paid to them,” Smart said during the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida. “I hear about that a lot. I think it can make it more consistent. It can balance things out. It would probably be helpful in the long run, but I’ve got a feeling there’s more to it than just us and them.”
With the SEC schedule set through 2025, such a move may not be happening soon. Also at issue is the SEC’s reluctance to allow Georgia to have five SEC home games in back-to-back years. In addition, several other programs could be affected, meaning back-to-back years of road games for those teams to other SEC rivals as well.
Another idea that has surfaced is to move the rivalry game from its traditional November slot to earlier in the season. Each team would still play their season-ending, in-state rivals on the road in odd years, but at least the games would be separated by more than two weeks.
The SEC is open to the idea, which could be implemented as early as 2019.
“If the two schools said we’d like you to consider allowing us to play earlier, then that’s something we would look at,” SEC associate commissioner Mark Womack told the The Athletic this week.
It doesn’t solve the issue of Georgia traveling to Auburn and Georgia Tech one year and Auburn playing at Georgia and at Alabama the next, but it does allow for some relief.