TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne have heard your complaints about the Crimson Tide not having any exciting home-and-home series, and appear to be taking the steps toward fixing the situation.
Alabama’s last home-and-home came in 2010 and 2011 with Penn State. Alabama won both matchups.
Saban said he and Byrne have spoke about setting up more in the future.
“I would like to do that,” Saban said during his radio show Thursday night. “We played Penn State home-and-home when I was here, and it was a good game here, it was a good game there, great crowd and all that. It’s better for our fans if we play at home, I get that. But playing in these sort of games has helped us to play a better team, even though it’s at a neutral site, and it gained tremendous exposure for the program early on.
“But Greg Byrne and I met about doing this in the future where we have some home-and-homes with some teams every now and then so we’re not playing in one of these neutral-site games to start the season.”
That doesn’t mean Alabama’s neutral-site games are completely going away. Alabama’s 2018 schedule was already released. The Crimson Tide opens next season against Louisville in Orlando. Alabama will face Duke in Atlanta in 2019. Alabama doesn’t currently have a big-time opponent for 2020, but the Crimson Tide will face Miami in Atlanta to open the 2021 season.
Saban wants to do what’s best for the fans and the players. In Saban’s eyes, that means everyone should be playing more high-quality opponents on a regular basis, and occasionally making a trip to do so.
“No question, I’d love to do it,” Saban said. “I’ve been out there talking about how we should have to play all Power 5 conferences in all 12 games. And I know there’s a lot of opposition to that. The biggest opposition is the way you qualify for a bowl game.
“Everybody wants to win six games, aight. So, they win six games, they get to go to a bowl game. Well, if I could play four teams that I know I could beat that nobody really cares about watching, then I could qualify for a bowl game.”
Saban continued by advocating for college football to take lessons from college basketball in its scheduling practices.
“Well, my answer to that (qualifying for a bowl game) would be why don’t we do it like they do basketball?” Saban said. “They pick 64 teams or 68 teams or whatever it is for the basketball tournament based on, not their record necessarily, but strength of schedule and all that type of stuff. So, you put the best teams, however many there are — kind of like we do the top 12 now — and then it wouldn’t be as big an issue to try to win six games but it would be more about who you play, strength of schedule, be much better for the fans. … And the other thing is is we wouldn’t be caught up in this deal that we have now in college football where if you lose one game, you may be out.
“Well, if everybody played 12 teams, it’s like the NFL. The New York Giants lost six games and won the Super Bowl a couple years ago. So, you can lose a game, you can lose maybe two games, and still be one of the best teams in the country, if you lost to one of the top-five teams or you lost to somebody else. I guess being an old NFL guy and playing nothing but NFL teams — and they’re all good — why don’t we do that more like that in college football?”