Score one for college football fans, especially those who root for the University of Alabama.
With Wednesday’s announcement that the Crimson Tide will play a home-and-home series with Texas in 2022-23, the Alabama faithful rejoiced — and with good reason.
The Crimson Tide will visit Austin first, 100 years since the last time they played there, followed by the first meeting in Tuscaloosa since 1902.
For a little perspective, consider that Teddy Roosevelt was president at the time and the American flag had just 45 stars on it. It’s before the first Ford Model A went into production, the Wright brothers flew their first flight and the ice cream cone was invented.
The announcement came on the heels of Alabama agreeing to a similar series with Notre Dame, playing in South Bend in 2028 and Tuscaloosa in 2029. One has to wonder what kind of out clauses are included in the contract since it’s still a decade away, yet both home-and-homes are long overdue.
They’re the kind of matchups that fans can’t get enough of, sort of like an Original Six showdown in the National Hockey League, only better.
Those teams still play every year. The last time Alabama faced Notre Dame or Texas the national championship was on the line, with the Crimson Tide capturing two of their first three titles under Nick Saban, in 2009 and 2012, respectively.
To take it another step, they’ll be the first marquee nonconference games that fans in Tuscaloosa have seen for a while. Not too long ago, Alabama would schedule its best opponents for Legion Field in Birmingham.
Outside of the usual SEC schedule, Alabama hasn’t hosted a Power 5 opponent at Bryant-Denny Stadium since facing Penn State in 2010. The return trip to State College was in 2011, and plenty of people on both sides would like to see those matchups become a regular thing again.
Instead, Alabama fans have had to endure a lot of unexciting opponents as part of the season-ticket package, including the regular FCS opponent the week before facing rival Auburn.
- 2018: Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette and The Citadel
- 2017: Fresno State, Colorado State and Mercer
- 2016: Western Kentucky, Kent State and Chattanooga
- 2015: Middle Tennessee State, Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern
- 2014: Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss and Western Carolina
- 2013: Colorado State, Georgia State and Chattanooga
- 2012: Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic and Western Carolina
- 2011: Kent State, North Texas and Georgia Southern
Granted, Alabama has faced numerous high-profile opponents during that time period, including Michigan, Southern California and Florida State, but for big paydays at neutral sites.
Even the luster of those has waned somewhat as the scores were 41-14, 52-6 and 24-7, respectively, with the Seminoles subsequently going into a tailspin after getting pushed around in what had been promoted as the greatest opener of all time (No. 1 vs. No. 3).
This season the Crimson Tide will open against Louisville in Orlando. There’s been almost no buzz about the matchup.
Next year they face Duke in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.
Neither will likely wow recruits or impress the College Football Playoff committee, which has become very important in college football.
After Duke, Alabama is looking at another game against USC at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, followed by the home-and-home with the Longhorns, with the promise of the Fighting Irish to follow.
That kind mix is probably what Alabama will have moving forward.
“I think getting more of a hybrid, a little bit of both,” Director of Athletics Greg Byrne said. “The neutral-site games worked well for us and we need to be respectful of that. It’s been good for us from a budgetary standpoint as well and gets us into other markets too. Obviously Atlanta and Dallas, and Orlando this year, has been good for our program.”
“Balancing that, we want to make sure we’re bringing good games to campus, to our community and state, that are good for all of those involved too.
After walking off the golf course at the Regions Tradition on Wednesday, Nick Saban told the Paul Finebaum Show that he was “excited” and hinted at some more home-and-homes to follow.
There’s really no drawback to scheduling them, other than having to play in a really tough environment half the of the time. In terms of recruiting, Alabama’s drawn a lot of players out of the states it’s played neutral-site games, but bringing prospects in for a big-name opponent will have its advantages as well.
We’ll just call it a win-win situation for all involved except for UCF — which continues to claim a share of the national title for 2017 after not making the College Football Playoff, which Alabama won. To get the series with the Crimson Tide to work, Texas had to cancel their scheduled game for 2023 with UCF.