Kiss Louisville goodbye and say hello to Boise State.
Joe Jaszewski/AP Quarterback Kellen Moore led Boise State to an undefeated record this year entering Friday night’s matchup against Fresno State.
Georgia will open the 2011 college football season on Sept. 3 with a nationally televised game against Boise State at Atlanta’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, canceling a home-and-home series with Louisville to complete the deal.
The game will kick off at 8 p.m. at the Georgia Dome and will air on either ABC or ESPN.
“I think it’s a remarkable example of people kinda working together to make things work for everyone,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said Friday.
Louisville declined a request to mutually cancel the series, so the Chick-fil-A Bowl and ESPN agreed to pay a $600,000 series buyout to Louisville and helped arrange an alternative home-and-home series for the Cardinals against North Carolina.
In addition, Georgia will receive approximately $1.7 million to appear in the game, while Boise State will receive $1.4 million.
The Bulldogs also cleared space for an extra 2012 home game – giving Georgia seven home games that season – by ending the Louisville series. McGarity said an announcement on that opponent should come in the near future.
“We’re really close to having an agreement in place for a team,” he said, adding that it wouldn’t require a return game. “I don’t want to say who that is now, but we should be able to in the next 14-21 days be able to announce who that opponent is.”
Ole Miss and Boise State were originally scheduled to meet in the 2011 season opener in Oxford, Miss., but agreed to move their game to Aug. 28, 2014 as part of a Thursday-Saturday Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game doubleheader in Atlanta. Alabama will face a to-be-determined opponent in the Saturday portion of the doubleheader, as well as in the 2013 kickoff game in Atlanta.
“We’re working hard in 2013 and ’14 probably to match up an ACC team with Alabama in both those cases,” Chick-fil-A Bowl president Gary Stokan said.
Ole Miss will receive $2 million and Boise State $1.1 million to appear in the 2014 game. Meanwhile, the Rebels will instead host BYU in the 2011 season opener and will pay the Cougars $900,000 to make the trip to Oxford.
“There were so many moving pieces to this as we’ve talked the last month or so,” McGarity said.
“To get (Ole Miss athletic director) Pete Boone to move the game, to get Boise State, it’s just remarkable to have that many people coming together to make this thing work.”
Regarding the game itself, everyone involved said the game brings exactly the type of marquee matchup that its organizers seek.
Boise State is currently undefeated and ranked fourth in the BCS standings, while Stokan said he expects Georgia to be ranked when the 2011 season begins.
This will be the first time organizers stray from the Southeastern Conference-Atlantic Coast Conference matchups that marked each of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games that have been announced or played since the game’s inception in 2008.
“We got it right,” Stokan said. “It took some time, but similar to the previous three years where we’ve had top-25 teams in the game every year, we feel like we’ve hit upon another Daytona 500 of college football with the University of Georgia playing Boise State.”
Game organizers will reserve 7,500 tickets for Boise State fans to purchase through the school, but there is no requirement that Broncos fans buy the entire allotment.
The remaining tickets for the Georgia Dome – which seats 71,228 – will be left to Georgia fans, minus the tickets reserved for local entities.
“There’s already tickets committed to club seat holders and suite holders in the Dome,” Stokan said, “and then the Chick-fil-A Bowl will have some tickets to sell, as well, locally for our ticket buyers that buy in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.”
McGarity said his staff will huddle on Monday to begin finalizing plans for Georgia’s ticket distribution for the Atlanta game. He said the university’s ticket allocation plan for the annual neutral-site matchup with Florida will provide a blueprint for the Atlanta game.
“We already have sort of a model in place with the 40,000 tickets that we have in Jacksonville every year, so we already have a model in place on how to deal with tickets of this bulk,” McGarity said. “So we’re gonna sit down Monday as a staff and finetune some things and deal with the allocation of 50,000-some-odd tickets. That has not been determined, but we’ll huddle pretty quickly and go over those policies.”
As for Louisville, athletic director Tom Jurich expressed hope on Friday that the Cardinals could add Georgia to a future schedule after the Bulldogs exercised their option to buy out the series.
“We were thrilled when we secured a series with Georgia five years ago,” Jurich said in a university release. “… Obviously, we wanted to retain the series as we know our fans have been looking forward to playing them since 2005.
“Even though we are disappointed in this series of events, we appreciate ESPN for their assistance in attaining another quality BCS opponent and for their commitment in televising the games. We look forward to playing North Carolina (and) we will have discussions with Georgia about a possible future series.”