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Sunday Hangover: The Future of Alabama Football Scheduling

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Nick Saban has assembled an amazing array of future out of conference games.

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Kickoff-Alabama vs Florida State
Could Bama-FSU become an annual game?
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

A few more future scheduling agreements were released this past week between Alabama and other Power 5 teams, as the Tide locked in home-and-homes with Florida State and Virginia Tech. Outside of 2030 and 2031, this locks the Crimson Tide up with a P5 foe for the next 16 seasons. [ED. NOTE: No word on hovercar parking as of yet.]

Below is the Tide’s tentative non-conference schedule of Power 5 teams (all games are subject to change).

2020 - vs. Southern Cal (Arlington, TX)
2021 - vs. Miami (Atlanta, GA)
2022 - at Texas
2023 - Texas
2024 - at Wisconsin
2025 - at FSU, Wisconsin
2026 - at West Virginia, FSU
2027 - West Virginia
2028 - at Notre Dame
2029 - Notre Dame
2030 - TBD
2031 - TBD
2032 - at Oklahoma
2033 - Oklahoma
2034 - at Virginia Tech
2035 - Virginia Tech

Alabama is clearly moving away from the “kickoff” games at neutral sites and towards the home-and-home concept. The opponents are not just run-of-the-mill P5 teams such as an Arizona or a NC State. These foes are some of the most traditional power teams of all time.

“We’d really like to get someone like them (Florida State) to almost have a year-to-year with us, if that makes sense. So, almost try to create an out-of-conference rivalry with someone. It’s really good to play ACC schools, I think, because it’s regional where a lot of our fans can go to both games, whether they’re home or away. This is a great tradition program at Florida State, and it’d be good for our program. We’re excited about it.”
~ Nick Saban Oct. 31, 2019

I like the idea of an annual game with FSU. It is roughly a four hours 45 minute drive from Birmingham and a little over five hours from Tuscaloosa. It is about the same distance for Mobile residents as it is to T-town. However, I am not certain if the Seminoles would be on board for a permanent series. The Gators might take umbrage as well. Florida State and Florida have played every year since 1958 and I can’t see that ending anytime soon.

IF NOT FSU WHO?

The next two closest ACC teams are Georgia Tech and Clemson. Back before the Yeller Jackets threw a hissy fit and left the SEC in the 1960s, this was a heated rival full of some good ol’ fashion hate. But here again, Tech already has an annual SEC foe in UGA. Clemson would be a must-see opponent, but they have South Carolina and often schedule Georgia.

FURTHER OUT

As far as other ACC teams go, the next closest possibilities take us deep into North Carolina to the tiny little stadiums of Duke, Wake Forest, UNC and NC State. None of those teams get the blood circulating. Plus, we are talking eight to nine hour drives. There is no easy answer for Saban’s vision.

TEN POWER 5 GAME SEASONS

The two years that might catch your eyes from the list above are 2025 and 2026 in which Bama has two Power 5 teams scheduled. This scheduling is an interesting development for Alabama. For several years, Nick Saban has been trying to steer the conversation towards all P5 teams exclusively playing P5’s. He has dialed it back with a proposal of ten P5 game schedules for everyone. However, he has never led by example. Now it looks like he is.

“I’ve always said, let’s play all Power 5 games. I was in the NFL where we played all the games against NFL teams. But let’s play at least ten Power 5 games. It would be better for the players, better for the fans, and I think you wouldn’t have to worry that if you lost a game that you wouldn’t have as much of a chance to still be in [the College Football Playoff]. They talk about strength of schedule now, but how do you really evaluate that?”
~ Saban, Aug 9, 2019

In addition to the above schedules, the Crimson Tide will play at USF in 2023, while hosting them in both 2024 and 2026. While not a Power 5 team, the Bulls are one of the stronger non-P5 programs. There is also the possibility of USF being snatched up by a bigger conference in coming years.

As fans, we love the “up scheduling”. Alabama should be playing an out of conference upper-tier P5 every year. Adding a second P5 is even better. Even if it is a Duke or an Indiana as teh second team, it is better than the New Mexico States and the Citadels.