16 July 2008
According to reports
coming out today, it looks as though Bama is in strong negotiations with the Georgia Dome people about opening up the 2009
season against Virgina Tech, Labor Day Weekend, in Atlanta.
talked about wanting to improve the quality of Alabama's schedule, and he did that immediately by adding the Clemson game to open the 2008
season in the Georgia Dome.
This would be a continuation of that theme, giving the Tide another top tier ACC opponent, again in a neutral site.
While it is might look odd to give up the revenue generated by an extra home game, the financial payout for these games more than makes up for that.
Add to that the added benefits:
- All but guaranteed National Television Exposure. Bama vs. Clemson will be on ABC at 8 EST as the marquee matchup of college football's first Saturday. One can assume a Bama vs. Virginia Tech matchup would generate similar interest from ABC, CBS & ESPN.
- Improving the strength of schedule. You have to be in the national title hunt before it matters, but playing high profile teams can help you win the BCS numbers crunch and get into the Title Game if multiple teams are close. LSU's early season win over Va. Tech certainly helped them in 2007.
- Massively increasing your profile in the city where the game is played. Bama has gone into Georgia heavily under Nick Saban for prospects, and appears to be doing so again this year. Atlanta is a hot bed for talent, and playing games there certainly can't hurt your chances of introducing your program to a prospective young talent.
At some point in time, Bama has to win one of these games before any of that really matters, and that hasn't happened in recent years. Bama's games against big non-conference opponents in recent years, excluding Bowl Games:
- 2007 - Bama lost to FSU 21-14 in Jacksonville, FL
- 2003 - Bama lost to Oklahoma 20-13 in Tuscaloosa
- 2002 - Bama lost to Oklahoma 37-27 in Norman, OK
- 2001 - Bama lost to UCLA 20-17 in Tuscaloosa
- 2000 - Bama lost to UCLA 35-24 in Pasadena, CA
- 1996 - Bama beat N.C. State 24-19 in Raleigh, NC
- 1995 - Bama beat N.C. State 27-11 in Tuscaloosa
- 1990 - Bama lost to Penn State 9-0 in Tuscaloosa
- 1989 - Bama beat Penn State 17-16 in State College, PA
I didn't include the games against Hawaii because, despite last season's anomaly, they are not a high-level, BCS opponent. The same can be said about the 1998 game against BYU, and any of the Southern Miss games.
The fact that Bama has not beaten a High Level
(N.C. State is a mid-level ACC team) BCS-Conference team since the 1989 Penn State game is alarming. For the Tide to truly begin to reap the rewards of these big games, they are going to have to win one.
Even counting the N.C. State wins, Bama hasn't won a major non-conference game in the last 11 seasons - not counting Bowl Games. The fact that Bama didn't play in one of these types of games in 6 of those 11 seasons is probably a result of the probation, and creative scheduling to help the record.
The effects of the probation are (nearly) over. The talent level at Bama has risen significantly in just 2 years. It is great to see Bama going out and scheduling aggressively again. Now it's time to win one. The Tide will have that chance on August 30 against Clemson.