Sunday, July 24, 2011

Should Alabama play in-state schools besides Auburn?

It's been 67 years since Alabama played another in-state college football team other than Auburn. That was Howard College (which is now Samford) back in 1944. This fact hasn't hasn't gone unnoticed in the Cotton State, where programs like Troy and UAB have made it to the FBS level.

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban was asked about this on Friday at SEC Media Days in Birmingham. He gave a reply saying he wouldn't mind playing another in-state program.

“I personally do not have an issue playing in-state schools,” Saban said. “In fact, we sort of instituted at LSU that we do that. We played Tulane, but they hadn’t played the other schools. We started to do that so it promoted all the programs in-state. So I certainly would support the effort to do that in our state in Alabama.”

Obviously the state of Alabama hasn't had a rich history of Division I football outside of  either Tuscaloosa or Auburn. But with the emergence of Troy and UAB as respectable lower-lever FBS schools (if not true mid-majors), and the fledgling  South Alabama program, the state is joining Florida as the only SEC-affiliated states with four noteworthy FBS programs.  It would seem natural for Alabama to play them once in a while.

Naturally there are two genuine reasons for the smaller schools to play Alabama, and the odds of winning against the Tide isn't one of them. As mentioned, promotion of the programs is one reason. The other obvious reason is money. Alabama would obviously have to pay the schools to come to Tuscaloosa (the chances of the Tide playing an away game at Troy are slim to none). It's assured the smaller programs would gladly cash the check from a beatdown by the Tide.

This does bring up the question of whether or not anybody outside Alabama (other than alumni of Troy, UAB, and South Alabama) really want to see the Tide play non-Auburn in-state schools. With only four non-conference dates on the calendar every year, the chances to see Alabama play a respectable non-conference team every year are usually few. (Though the Tide face Michigan in 2012, and Virginia Tech in 2013. Both in neutral-site games) Most college football fans would probably rather see the Tide play at least a mid-level Big Ten or Big XII team than a lower-level in-state program.

(via The Gasden Times)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think Troy would make a nice in-state tune up game. They've also proven to be a spoiler from time to time. They're a far more credible program than the Blazers. UAB is 15-33 in since 2007. In contrast, Troy's last losing season was in 2005. UAB's biggest problem is its proximity to Tuscaloosa. While Troy is also close to the Barn, the recruiting pool is far deeper, given its proximity to northwest Florida. South Alabama will hold an even greater advantage, with no major schools in a 100 mile radius in a prime recruiting area. As an Alabama Gulf Coast native, I hope the Jags can take advantage of it.