Kirby Smart On The Importance Of Playing "Cupcake Games"

Kirby Smart On The Importance Of Playing "Cupcake Games"

Football

Kirby Smart On The Importance Of Playing "Cupcake Games"


Though it may not be a fan favorite, big powerhouse schools playing “cupcake games” against smaller schools is something that each team does, and according to Kirby Smart, for good reason.

Georgia will take on UMASS this Saturday in Sanford Stadium at 4 p.m. ET on SEC Network.

UMASS of the Mid-American Conference is coming off a 35-16 loss to BYU, and the week before, a 62-59 3OT win over Temple.

Georgia is paying the Minutemen $1.5m for this Saturday’s game, which also includes a home-and-home basketball series.

In week one, Georgia dished out $500,000 to Clarksville, Tennessee’s Austin Peay, a game UGA won 45-0. In week three, UGA paid MTSU $1.7m to come to Athens to face the Bulldogs. Georgia won that contest 49-7.

In total, Georgia is paying $3.7m this season to fill three open slates in its schedule.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for these programs,” Smart said in September. “I’ve got a lot of respect for student-athletes that play at these programs.”

Most coaches began their career coaching for a lesser-known program, so they usually understand the importance of these games for them.

“I think games like these, a lot of times, are an opportunity for their programs to survive and stay alive and financially they’re important to some of these programs,” Smart said.

Smart knows fans want their teams to schedule more prominent opponents to fill an open slot; teams like Clemson, Oregon, UCLA, UNC, Notre Dame, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Texas – all teams Georgia has scheduled to play in the last 10 years or in the future.

But as a man who got his first real coaching job with Will Muschamp at Valdosta State in the early 2000s, he is familiar with the need for these games, noting that paying schools to play is what keeps some programs alive.

“I think it’s important that you play quality opponents, but I also think, having coached at lower division levels, it’s important to their programs to be able to finance their programs.”

After a week one loss to Vandy, Georgia was MTSU’s second SEC opponent in three weeks. The Blue Raiders also travel to Kentucky to take on the Wildcats this week. MTSU will likely go 0-3 this season against the SEC, but if you ask anyone in the athletic department they’d tell you it was 100% worth it thanks to the massive paychecks received,

“I’m a big believer in the sport of football, and that’s at all levels. I think football teaches you lifelong lessons. I think football is very good for young people to be involved in, to feel like they are part of a team, to feel the failure, to feel the success. And you don’t get that at some of the levels without these games.”

Georgia will face UMASS this Saturday in a game the Dawgs are favored to win by 43.5 points.

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