In the eight football seasons from 1982 to '89, the Georgia Bulldogs went to eight different destinations for bowl games.
Those were the final years of a long era in which bowl representatives and athletic directors worked behind the scenes to produce the pairings. For the past two decades, the bowls have partnered with the conferences, which has reduced some of the questionable dealings of yesteryear but limits schools to familiar locations.
"Coach [Bear] Bryant at Alabama kind of set the bowls and who went where when I first started," former Georgia coach and athletic director Vince Dooley said. "They would choose the bowl that was the best available, and everything else would sort of fall into place. I think it is much better now that the conference controls it."
Georgia will be playing at the Outback Bowl in Tampa against Michigan State on Jan. 2. It will be the first trip to the Outback for the Bulldogs since the 2004 season, but they played three times in Tampa from 1997 to '04.
The Bulldogs have competed in three Capital One, three Chick-fil-A and three Sugar bowls in the last 20 seasons, with one of their Sugar appearances taking place in Atlanta because the Superdome was under repairs due to Hurricane Katrina. So in the past 20 years, 11 of their trips have been to Tampa, Orlando or Atlanta.
"That would be the only down side of it, but structure is great," Bulldogs junior receiver Tavarres King said. "I'm an education major, so structure is good. I like the new way."
Dooley still is pained by the memory of how the 1968 season ended. After his Bulldogs defeated Florida 51-0 to improve to 6-0-2 overall and 4-0-1 in Southeastern Conference play, Dooley quietly accepted a bid to the Sugar Bowl.
Then Georgia defeated Auburn 17-3, which was followed by an invitation from the Orange Bowl.
"The players definitely wanted to go to the Orange Bowl," Dooley said. "Yet we had committed to the Sugar Bowl, and that's how it was done in those days. I've always regretted how that transpired, and that was the unfortunate part of it."
Current Georgia coach Mark Richt was on Miami's 1980 team that defeated Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl, which was the first postseason appearance for the Hurricanes in 13 years. He described it as "a big deal" but doesn't have a strong opinion either way regarding the old way of team selection compared to the modern setup.
Richt did admit he wouldn't mind shaking up one of the biggest traditions of all.
"I think one that I would be for -- and I might get in trouble for this, but I hope not -- I think it would be interesting to rotate some of the BCS games to where the SEC may go to the Sugar Bowl this year, go to the Fiesta next year and have people do that," he said. "But there is such tradition in the SEC with the Sugar Bowl and the Pac-12 and Big Ten going to the Rose and all that kind of thing.
"I don't know if that will ever happen, but I think that would be interesting for fans, players and coaches to have a built-in, rotating destination."
That change doesn't seem likely in this continuing age of tie-ins.
"I'm glad that we've got a much better structure than back in the days when you made all those secret deals and felt obligated to keep them," Dooley said.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...
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