Dawgs’ 2015 home schedule: Feast or famine for the fans

Sanford Stadium was revved up the last time the Gamecocks played Between the Hedges. (John Kelley / UGA)
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Sanford Stadium was revved up the last time the Gamecocks played Between the Hedges. (John Kelley / UGA)
Sanford Stadium was revved up the last time the Gamecocks played Between the Hedges. (John Kelley / UGA)

Sanford Stadium was revved up the last time the Gamecocks played Between the Hedges. (John Kelley / UGA)

Major college football programs may have had their worst average attendance this past season since the NCAA began keeping track in 2003, but demand for UGA football season tickets continues to climb.

The UGA Athletic Association Ticket Office announced this week that the Hartman Fund cumulative priority point score requirements for 2015 football renewable season tickets and some single home game tickets hit 6,701, which is up from 1,001 last year.

That means anyone with a cumulative score (the amount of dollars they’ve donated to the Hartman Fund) of 6,701 priority points or higher who contributed a minimum of $250 per seat and ordered new renewable season tickets will receive them. If your score is less than 6,701, you won’t get season tickets. (The cutoff scores are for new donors only. Once you have tickets, you just have to give the minimum for your desired seat location.)

That’s not as big an increase as in 2008, when the cutoff score jumped from just under $2,000 to a ridiculous $10,651 thanks to the Dawgs being the consensus pre-season No. 1.

But, considering the fact that two years ago the cutoff score was zero (anyone contributing the minimum $250 got seats), it’s only natural to wonder what’s behind the surge in season ticket demand.

I mean, Georgia’s generally considered the favorite in the SEC East this season, but that was the case last year, too.

Nick Saban and Mark Richt before the 2012 SEC Championship Game. (Associated Press)

Nick Saban and Mark Richt before the 2012 SEC Championship Game. (Associated Press)

The most likely factor that comes to mind is that Alabama is on the seven-game home schedule this year, and that’s going to be a rarity with the new SEC scheduling format that will have the Tide and the Bulldogs going quite a few years between regular-season meetings.

Another possible factor is the Young Alumni Program, which allows those who’ve graduated within the past five years to get tickets without having to make the donation. Now that they’re in the system, a lot of those folks probably don’t want to give up their tickets and are starting to make donations as they pass that five-year mark.

Still, Alabama being on the schedule is probably the prime motivator here in what is otherwise going to be something of a feast-or-famine home schedule for UGA fans. Aside from Bama and South Carolina playing in Athens, the conference schedule of home games is a relatively unexciting Missouri and Kentucky.

And the nonconference schedule is yawn-inducing: Louisiana-Monroe, Southern and Georgia Southern. (This is one of those years when, thanks to the rejiggering the SEC did with the schedule, the Dawgs have neither Auburn nor Georgia Tech at home.)

Makes you hope UGA will get another home-and-home series with the likes of Clemson scheduled, doesn’t it?

Looking at this year’s schedule, I had assumed that the game against the Crimson Tide would be the one that Bulldog fans are most eagerly anticipating, since this will be the first time the two teams have met since Nick Saban and company won the nailbiter in the 2012 SEC Championship Game.

Georgia's defense came up big against South Carolina in 2013. (Philip Williams / UGA)

Georgia’s defense came up big against South Carolina in 2013. (Philip Williams / UGA)

However, in a quick informal poll I did this week via social media, the response overwhelmingly favored South Carolina. Apparently, the fact that the Gamecocks are the Dawgs’ chief SEC East rival (plus residual angst over last year’s result and hatred of Steve Spurrier) trump the fact that this will be Bama’s first game in Athens since the infamous 2008 Blackout debacle.

Tim Dawson was one of those picking the Gamecocks, saying that game was his choice “because it’s the first big one.” But he did allow that “Alabama will be epic. Always is whenever the two get together.”

(Mitch Clarke was the outlier, tweeting that he’s “riveted by the first appearance in Sanford Stadium of Southern University!” Of course, his true feelings were shown by the hashtags: #sarcasm #isthatreallyagame)

So, I’ll put the question to the Blawg readership: Which 2015 home game are you most excited about, Bama or South Carolina?

And, while I’m at it, do you plan on even attending the Louisiana-Monroe and Southern games?

If so, and you don’t have tickets yet, well, you’re in luck. Due to visiting team ticket returns, both games are currently on sale for $50 each. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Athletic Association ticket office 1-877-542-1231.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

Junkyard Blawg mugBill King is an Athens native and a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. A lifelong Bulldogs fan, he sold programs at Sanford Stadium as a teen and has been a football season ticket holder since leaving school. He has worked at the AJC since college and spent 10 years as the Constitution’s rock music critic before moving into copy editing on the old afternoon Journal. In addition to blogging, he’s now a story editor.


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