When it comes to college football scheduling nowadays, you’re more likely to hear about a matchup between teams two decades from now than two years from now. Such is the nature of the beast as timetables get set so far in advance by athletic directors for some unexplainable reason.
That’s what makes the recent news that Georgia and Clemson were going to be playing each other in 2021 so delightfully surprising. It was an unexpected move for the two regional rivals to get together in Charlotte for another non-conference game and it involved plenty of moving parts — and money — that all had to line up. In the end, everything did and both the Tigers and Bulldogs get a marquee matchup on the books.
As beneficial as the game should be for the two College Football Playoff contenders though, one Mountain West program really made out in the deal. To the tune of just under $3 million.
You see in order to make the openings work, Clemson had to buyout their game with Wyoming and Georgia needed to cancel their contract with San Jose State. The Spartans seemed to have no qualms with the arrangement because they collected a $1.8 million breakup fee. They then turned around in less than 48 hours and got a deal done for a game with USC, which had themselves found an opening by backing out of a date with an FCS opponent the same weekend.
Per The San Jose Mercury News’ Jon Wilner, San Jose State will eventually collect $1.1 million from their Southern California rivals. Add that to the UGA breakup amount and the notoriously cash-strapped athletic department will net $2.9 million and save plenty more from not traveling cross-country in the new arrangement.
“Facing USC in Los Angeles is a great opportunity for our student-athletes and fans,” Spartans AD Marie Tuite said in a release. “Southern California is an important footprint for us in recruiting and we’re very excited to add this game to our 2021 football schedule.
“I’d like to thank Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity for being transparent with us during the process… I’ve experienced the atmosphere in Athens on gameday and it’s a special place. Maybe one day in the future the Spartans will make the trip.”
While some fans of the program hope that to be true, those extra zeros in the SJSU bank account takes most of the sting out of missing out on some famous hedges. Who knows what the end result will be against USC in a few years but it’s probably safe to say that regardless of the scoreboard come Sept. 4, 2021, the Spartans got a pretty big win already.