Why Georgia Doesn't Want Its Season-Opener vs. Clemson Moved to Labor Day Night

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJanuary 22, 2013

The Georgia Bulldogs already have a tough offseason facing them.

In addition to dealing with the heartbreak of coming five yards short of playing for the BCS National Championship Game, head coach Mark Richt and his staff must replace four contributors on the defensive line, two stud linebackers and four players with significant experience in the defensive backfield.

In addition to the defensive roster turnover, the Bulldogs will travel across the state line to take on the Clemson Tigers and their potent offense in Week 1, followed by a critical Week 2 showdown with division foe South Carolina between the hedges on Week 2.

No rest for the weary.

That game against Clemson could be even more difficult. According to Dan Wolken of USA Today, Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney said that it could be moved to Monday, Sept. 2—Labor Day night.

Dabo Swinney told me the Clemson-Georgia game to open next season could end up on Monday night

— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) January 21, 2013

Talk about bad news for the Bulldogs. Not only would that game take on a new meaning being a night game that's broadcast unopposed to the nation, but it would give the Bulldogs only four days to prepare for the Gamecocks the following weekend. That game, in the past, has been one of the most important games of the season in the race for the SEC title.

But according to Marc Weiszer of the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald, the move to Labor Day night isn't likely.

Dabo Swinney told @danwolken Clemson game could move to Monday. UGA wouldn't see benefit of switch with South Carolina game 5 days later.

— Marc Weiszer (@marcweiszer) January 21, 2013

Bulldogs fans better hope that Weiszer is right, because that's just a brutal way to start the season. ESPN would have to get permission from both teams to move the game since a game contract between the two institutions already exists.

Georgia might not see the benefit, but from ESPN's perspective, there may not be a viable alternative. 

Since it's an ACC home game, the media rights for the game fall under the ACC's television contract, which calls for an ACC on ESPN broadcast on Labor Day night.

Extensive regular-season action on Saturday afternoon and nights, primetime Thursdays, three Fridays including Thanksgiving Friday, Labor Day Monday and the ACC Football Championship Game.

In reality, there probably won't be a better option.

The only other halfway decent out-of-conference game on opening weekend in the ACC is the Virginia Tech versus Alabama game in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, but it's unlikely that game will move to Monday night. 

ACC newcomer Syracuse has an out-of-conference match set with Penn State in East Rutherford, N.J. for the opening weekend of the season, but that's not nearly as attractive as Georgia versus Clemson.

The specific dates of the ACC conference schedule haven't been released yet, but Georgia at Clemson is likely going to be a top 10 matchup. It's hard to imagine a scenario where the ACC produce a Week 1 matchup with that kind of clout between conference foes.

Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity told Macon.com that he was "not aware" of the potential move. But that doesn't mean that the conversation won't happen in the future.

If it does, expect Georgia to fight tooth and nail to prevent the game from moving to Labor Day night, because that would be a brutal start to the season for the Bulldogs.


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