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Bulldogs, Jackets may play opener in 2011
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ATLANTA — Georgia Tech and Georgia always play at the end of the regular season.

How about a season opener at the Georgia Dome?

Officials from both schools said Wednesday they are discussing the possibility of playing their state rival in a neutral-site game in Atlanta to kick off the 2011 season.

Georgia Tech, which is scheduled to host the Bulldogs that year under the normal home-and-home format, would not give up a game at Bobby Dodd Stadium, said athletic director Dan Radakovich.

Instead, the talks involve taking a one-year break in the schools’ season-ending routine for the chance to face each other in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the 70,000-seat Georgia Dome.

“There has been no discussion of moving a Georgia Tech home football game vs. the University of Georgia or any other Georgia Tech home game to the Georgia Dome,” Radakovich said in a statement released Wednesday evening. “However, there have been some preliminary talks about the possibility of playing a neutral-site game at the Dome between the two schools to kick off the 2011 season.”

Georgia athletic director Damon Evans is exploring the possibility of playing a season-opening game in Atlanta, but said it’s too early to say if it will be against the Yellow Jackets.

“We do have interest in playing in the Kickoff classic at some point, and playing Georgia Tech is one of the possibilities that has been discussed,” Evans said. “There are many considerations involved, and we are only in the exploratory stage of evaluating those considerations at this point.”

The Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome matches teams from the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences. Alabama played in the first two season-opening games, beating Clemson last season and Virginia Tech this year. LSU is set to face North Carolina in 2010, while Tennessee is scheduled to play North Carolina State in 2012.

The teams are scheduled to meet Nov. 28 at Bobby Dodd Stadium and next year at Georgia’s Sanford Stadium in Athens. If the schools played in a 2011 season opener at the Georgia Dome, the teams would resume their regular pattern by closing out the 2012 season with a game at Georgia Tech.

“We are far from having any type of an agreement on this model, but for us it is an intriguing discussion from a long-term schedule standpoint,” Radakovich said.

The Yellow Jackets currently play three of their most lucrative games — Georgia, Clemson and Virginia Tech — at home in the same season on alternate years.

“By getting our home game with Georgia on an opposite-year cycle, it becomes much more fan-friendly and would provide us better financial consistency,” said Radakovich, who has been trying to get Georgia Tech’s athletic program out from under a heavy debt.

“We will make a decision that is in the best interest of Georgia Tech.”

The plan might not work for Georgia, however. If the home game against the Yellow Jackets is switched to an alternate year, the Bulldogs could wind up closing the regular season with three straight road games against Kentucky, Auburn and Georgia Tech.

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