Florida went to the SEC Championship game 10 times while Greg McGarity was an assistant athletic director for the Gators. Georgia has gone to the game twice since McGarity returned to Athens in 2010 as the Bulldogs’ athletic director. McGarity discusses the impact of college football’s upcoming four-team playoff on what he considers one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
I think with the playoff system beginning next season the SEC Championship game will take on an even more important role. It’ll be the last date that the (selection) committee will be able to see two teams play that more than likely are going to be in the top 10. It could be a pivotal game for both schools in terms of the final score and the competitive nature of the game.
A lot of people are swayed by how you finish. The game is going to be a springboard for one or both teams. The flip side is that it could be a dead end for a school. It really ramps up the importance of the game because it could cut both ways when you’re talking about a four-team playoff.
Imagine if it’s another game like last year. It would be very difficult in last year’s scenario not to include the loser (Georgia) in the four-team playoff.
As opposed to, if one team loses by 30 points and thought before the game it had a chance to be in the top four, that might seal the deal of you not going to the playoff. You could be the No. 1 team in the country, and if you lose that game to a team from the East or West side that has four losses, and if there are five teams in the country with one loss or undefeated, it could knock you out.
It just depends on the year, depends on the opponent, depends on the circumstances in play. In some years, I’m sure it will help. In some other years, it might not help. But I don’t think there’s a blanket statement you can make on that. It’s an opportunity to elevate your standing; it’s an opportunity to lose ground. You can play that out all you want, but in the past the game has helped propel teams into the national championship game, as evidenced by the past seven years.
I can’t think of really any negative about the SEC Championship game because of its tremendous TV ratings and what it has done to elevate the SEC brand. I’m lucky because Florida played in the first game in 1992, my first year (there), and I’ve seen how far the game has come. Beyond the national championship game, everybody looks at this game as the next best game. And in some situations it may be better than the national championship game.
I think the game (will be a part of the SEC as far into the future as one can see). The whole concept has really just blossomed into one of the major sporting events in the world, amateur or professional. It’s at a great venue. The city supports it well. When it’s in the new (Falcons) stadium in 2017, you can imagine how it’s going to really be taken to another level. And it’s already a “10” in the Georgia Dome.
As told to staff writer Tim Tucker