According to a Birmingham News article, Nick Saban wants to play the Fighting Irish. I know we've got good teams coming up on future schedules (FSU, Penn State, Georgia Tech) and have had some good ones on it in the not-so-distant past (Oklahoma, UCLA), but there has been a lot of atrocious scheduling as well. The 2008 schedule, for instance, is terrible in terms of exciting out of conference games. You can't tell me that there's a Bama fan on earth that wouldn't look forward to that game. Here's what Saban had to say about it:
Better still is that Saban said he wants a solid out of conference opponent to be a yearly feature on Alabama's schedule. Other teams mentioned by Saban were Penn State, Georgia Tech (he'll get those two if he's here for a while), Oklahoma and North Carolina. I'm assuming North Carolina is included because of the heightened expectations for that program under new head coach Butch Davis. Regardless, I'd rather take on a lower tier ACC team than another Sun Belt team or a 1-AA school.
These type of games help improve national profile and that brings in more recruits and generates more money. I know a small fortune can be made off of scheduling garbage games but ours is one of the most profitable athletic departments in the country and we can easily afford to sacrifice a home game every other year. I strongly believe it helps the program more in the long run (both image-wise and financially) to schedule strong opponents and to travel occasionally than it does to bring in punching bags year after year for the sake of the almighty dollar. If you were a player, would you rather travel to play Notre Dame or stay at home and beat up on Florida International? I'm glad to see Coach Saban is on the same page with the fans on this one and I eagerly await seeing who we line up to play in the future.