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Is Alabama vs Southern Cal in Peril?

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The Trojans and Crimson Tide have plenty of hurdles to clear before meeting at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in September.

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Advocare Classic - USC v Alabama
To play or not to play?
Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide and Southern Cal Trojans are two of the most storied programs in the history of college football. They are similar in many ways: iconic uniforms, double digit National Championships, multiple Hall of Fame inductees, a rabid fan base that expects perfection... But here today in 2020, the two teams could not be more different.

The obvious difference is the state of the programs. Alabama is in the midst of perhaps the greatest era of college football under already legendary Nick Saban. The Men of Troy have been struggling since Pete Carroll skipped town in 2009 and their current coach, Clay Helton, is on the hottest of hot seats.

And then there is that other situation: The C-word. No, not cancer. That other illness that starts with a “C” that has taken over the world.

Alabama and most of the SEC are fully planning to have students back on campus in the fall. In turn, they expect to have some semblance of college football. A few states in the SEC footprint have even lifted some stay-at-home restrictions. Meanwhile, the state of California is practically in a police state of lockdown. It is somewhat understandable. The Golden State is the most populated U.S. state with major ports and Los Angeles is the second largest of U.S. cities. The University of Southern California is smack dab in the middle of the city. Whether you think authorities have gone overboard or not, it is what it is and the Pac-12 and Southern Cal administrators will approach their decisions differently than their counterparts in other parts of the country.

New So Cal athletic director Mike Bohn has been on the job all of six months and has yet to make any substantial comments. However, embattled Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott knows which side the conference’s bread is buttered. He recently told a reporter “the concern going into the next fiscal year is the upcoming football season, which by most measures is responsible for 85% of overall revenue in a league like ours. Most people assume it’s more balanced, but football is the engine that is driving the revenue that comes in.”

While that statement is encouraging, it could be out of Scott’s hands should state authorities step in. He also stated “at the moment we’re still anticipating football season will start on time, but we’ll also be ready for plan B, C, D and E.” Plan A sounds great. It’s those other four plans that should concern fans.

The Pac-12 is a much different animal than the other four Power-5 conferences. Whereas most P5 schools are located in smaller “college towns”, the Pac has seven member schools in or abut to major U.S. populations.

  1. University of California, Los Angeles - Los Angeles, California
  2. University of Southern California - Los Angeles, California
  3. Arizona State University - Tempe, Arizona (Phoenix)
  4. Stanford University - Stanford, California (San Jose)
  5. University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley, California (San Francisco)
  6. University of Washington - Seattle, Washington
  7. University of Utah - Salt Lake City, Utah
  8. University of Arizona - Tucson, Arizona
  9. University of Oregon - Eugene, Oregon
  10. Oregon State University - Corvallis, Oregon
  11. University of Colorado Boulder - Boulder, Colorado
  12. Washington State University - Pullman, Washington

Should both Alabama and Southern Cal clear all their hurdles and open campuses for the fall on time, there is still the issue of the two teams traveling to Arlington, Texas for the neutral site game. That situation means buses, airports, hotels, and a good deal of shuffling people around. It also equates to another state, another set of rules. To complicate matters further, the JerryWorld stadium is an NFL stadium that is not under NCAA guidelines. Although organizers will do everything they can to appease their guests, it is just that many more hoops to jump through.

Optimistically, most games will get played, but problematic games like Bama-SoCal could be a casualty.

SCENARIOS

Many scenarios for the 2020 college football season have been floated about. Among the more discussed options are spring football (ain’t gonna happen), conference only seasons, or 10-games game seasons. The latter seems more acceptable since the SEC and ACC don’t want to lose traditional crossover games such as Clemson-South Carolina or Florida-FSU at the end of the season.

For Alabama, they do not have such a game. The Tide and Trojans do not share a common bye week. Both teams have home cupcake games in Week 2, but will waiting one week make that much of a difference? Scheduling to play at the end of the season (after Conference Championship Games) in December is less than optimal.

ALABAMA SOUTHERN CAL
Saturday
Sep. 5
vs USC Trojans Saturday
Sep. 5
vs Alabama Crimson Tide
Saturday
Sep. 12
Georgia State Panthers Saturday
Sep. 12
New Mexico Lobos
Saturday
Sep. 19
Georgia Bulldogs Saturday
Sep. 19
at Stanford Cardinal
Saturday
Sep. 26
Kent State Golden Flashes Saturday
Sep. 26
Arizona State Sun Devils
Saturday
Oct. 3
at Ole Miss Rebels Friday
Oct. 2
at Utah Utes
Saturday
Oct. 10
at Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday
Oct. 10
California Golden Bears
Saturday
Oct. 17
Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday
Oct. 17
at Arizona Wildcats
Saturday
Oct. 24
at Tennessee Volunteers Saturday
Oct. 24
OFF
Saturday
Oct. 31
OFF Saturday
Oct. 31
Colorado Buffaloes
Saturday
Nov. 7
at LSU Tigers Saturday
Nov. 7
at Oregon Ducks
Saturday
Nov. 14
UT Martin Skyhawks Saturday
Nov. 14
Washington Huskies
Saturday
Nov. 21
Texas A&M Aggies Saturday
Nov. 21
at UCLA Bruins
Saturday
Nov. 28
Auburn Tigers Saturday
Nov. 28
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Saturday
Dec. 5
SEC Championship Friday
Dec. 4
Pac-12 Championship

SOS

Alabama needs to get this game played (and win of course) for national implications. The Crimson Tide’s other three out-of-conference games (Georgia State, Kent State, UT-Martin) are not going to win them any brownie points with the playoff committee. It may be presumptuous to declare shenanigans against the CFPC, but a certain feel of hostility towards the success of the Tide is in the air.

JERRYWORLD TAKES A BATH

The Crimson Tide have six million reason to get this game played. According to the contract, six million dollars is the guaranteed amount they will be paid for participating in the game. The Trojans’ take has not been released but rest assured it is a substantial amount they won’t want to pass up. If the game is played, it will likely be in front of a limited live audience. Some talking heads have guesstimated early games could be attended by around 20,000 spectators if any at all. Unless Jerry Jones and the City of Arlington have some dynamite lawyers that can negotiate those purses to the two schools down a few million, they will take quite a hit in the wallet.

Poll

Will the Alabama-Southern Cal game get played?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    No.
    (341 votes)
  • 63%
    Yes.
    (605 votes)
946 votes total Vote Now