Kirby Smart not afraid of ‘playing tougher opponents’

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Bulldogs' future non-conference opponents

Kirby Smart appears determined to take matters into his own hands as much as possible where Georgia’s future playoff chances are concerned after getting left out in the cold last season.

Smart is behind UGA’s push for more aggressive scheduling, which this past offseason has included future home-and-home series with Oklahoma (2023 away, 2031 home) and Florida State (2027 away, 2028 home).

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“I certainly think if two teams are equal in record, that the tougher conference schedule and the tougher out of conference schedule is going to be weighted,” Smart said Tuesday at the SEC Spring Meetings. “They look at that now. You look at the history of the decisions they make, it has a lot to do with it.

“When you play matters because momentum works into that. They do studies across the time they have it and it will continue to be that way. Somebody that plays a big game in December may be more valuable than somebody that plays a big game in September.”

Smart said he believes schools playing more competitive schedules is becoming a trend.

“I just think that’s the way football’s headed, I’ll be honest with you,” Smart said. “I think the day of playing more competitive games, there’s more parity in our conference. I think going out and playing tougher opponents is a good thing.

“I don’t run from that competition. I think it’s the best thing for the game.”

Smart said there are several reasons behind his philosophy.

“You look at dwindling attendance, the opportunity to go recruit, to play on a big stage,” Smart said. “I think the conference schedule that we play is plenty tough enough. Let me be sure and say that. Extremely tough as a matter of fact.

“But I want Georgia on the national stage playing against great competition.”

Smart was asked how that might affect the Bulldogs’ annual rivalry game with Florida in Jacksonville, as playing those future home-and-home series takes more games away from Sanford Stadium.

“I don’t know, I think that’s always up for discussion,” Smart said. “We have a contract with Jacksonville, which is a couple years out (2021).

“I think you’re always looking to see what you can do to help your program get better. Nothing’s off the table. But nothing’s been decided either.”