Since he became athletics director at Georgia, Greg McGarity has sent mixed signals about his intentions as far as the non-conference schedule. When he canceled a series with Oregon several years ago, it was seen as "a move away from Georgia’s philosophy under former athletic director Damon Evans of scheduling high-profile nonconference games in other regions of the country." McGarity has also said he would like the Dawgs to sometimes play other power teams, "but not every year."
The announcement today that Georgia would play Notre Dame in 2017 and 2019 dovetails nicely with the "not every year" philosophy. The Dawgs are finishing up a home-and-home with Clemson this year, and an Ohio State series planned for 2020-21 was canceled by the Buckeyes a couple of years ago. Depending on the trajectories of the two programs, the Irish might even be a step up.
"This series will generate an overwhelming level of excitement for our student-athletes and supporters," said McGarity. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for Notre Dame and look forward to the start of this memorable experience."
McGarity's previous statements about wanting a tough non-conference foe every so often makes it hard to attribute this to the importance of strength of schedule in the playoff era that everyone's been talking about. There are plenty of reasons why playoff advocates want to make that case, but this looks more like the kind of thing Georgia would have done even if we were still operating under the BCS.
On the other hand, it is a pretty good game between two storied programs that don't play often. That's a net positive regardless of the reasons the schools had for scheduling it.