ACC decision kills Georgia-Virginia, but Georgia Tech game in play

Georgia's Kirby Smart coached his first game as the Bulldogs' head man against North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in 2016. (AJC file photo)
Georgia's Kirby Smart coached his first game as the Bulldogs' head man against North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in 2016. (AJC file photo)

Credit: John Bazemore

Credit: John Bazemore

ACC presidents announced plans Wednesday to play a conference-only, plus-one schedule for the coming football season, opening the door for Georgia and Georgia Tech to continue their 127-year-old series this year.

The league’s rules regarding non-conference opponents for member schools is the games must be conducted in the home state of the ACC institution. Also, opponents must meet the ACC’s medical-protocol requirements.

Georgia fits the bill on both counts. The teams are scheduled to play Nov. 28 in Athens.

Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity declined comment on the development Wednesday because the SEC has yet to decide its scheduling plans for the fall. However, earlier this month he said that he spoke with Georgia Tech Athletic Director Todd Stansbury on the subject, and they agreed that both programs wanted to do everything possible to keep their game on the docket.

“(Tech) definitely wants to play it,” McGarity said July 9. “So, does FSU and Florida, Clemson and South Carolina and Kentucky and Louisville. The importance of those intrastate rival games was brought up, and you’re talking about travel within the state. So, proximity was a key part of that as well.”

The flipside is that the ACC’s stipulation of playing non-conference opponents in state mean the Bulldogs will not be able to play Virginia in a Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium that long was scheduled as both team’s season opener Sept. 7.

“The ACC release says it all, it eliminates the UVA game,” McGarity acknowledged via text Wednesday.

Tech and Georgia have played in all but 12 years since their rivalry began in 1893. The teams disagree on whether some games the schools played were sanctioned. The Bulldogs don’t count the 1943 and ’44 contests, won by Tech 48-0 and 44-0, respectively, because UGA contends the Yellow Jackets used ineligible players that were being put through military training in Atlanta during World War II.

The schools also did not play from 1917-24 because of UGA student protests over Tech choosing to play football during World War I. Otherwise, the rivalry known as “Clean Old Fashioned Hate” has been played without interruption since 1925.

Georgia and Virginia have been under contract since 2017 to play a Labor Day night matchup this year. The Bulldogs and Cavaliers have played 19 times previously, with Georgia holding a 9-7-3 advantage in the series. They last played in the Oahu Bowl in Honolulu in 2000.

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