‘Good for college football’: Inside Alabama’s renewed focus on home-and-home series

Alabama followers haven’t wished for a lot in the course of the Nick Saban period. The long run Corridor of Fame coach has secured 5 nationwide titles, six Southeastern Convention championships, a 141-21 total document and 11 consecutive seasons of 10 or extra wins as a part of essentially the most dominant run in school soccer historical past.

But when Crimson Tide followers have had one factor to complain about throughout his reign in Tuscaloosa, it is this: a noticeable lack of nonconference home-and-home collection, the final of which occurred towards Massive Ten opponent Penn State in 2010-2011.

Enter Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne, who, since his hiring in January 2017, has labored with Saban to safe 4 high-profile home-and-home series through the 2032-33 season.

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A driving pressure on this change, aside from improved fan expertise and Saban’s openness to tweaking Alabama’s nonconference scheduling, is what Byrne referred to as a altering marketability of neutral-site video games.

“I believe there’s extra groups which are desirous to play home-and-home collection, and I believe the novelty of those impartial video games, whereas we nonetheless have an interest and prepared to do them, there is not fairly as many groups which are fairly as prepared to do them,” Byrne advised Sporting Information. “So {the marketplace} has modified.”

It ought to be famous Alabama stands to make $15.5 million in payouts over its subsequent three nonconference video games towards Duke (2019), USC (2020) and Miami (2021), equalling what it made towards USC, Florida State and Louisville in neutral-site video games from 2016-18, respectively.

“I believe the impartial video games have been good for us to get into Texas into Georgia and Florida. And we’ll nonetheless look into these choices sooner or later,” Byrne mentioned. “However we additionally assume an excellent house recreation and the nice environment that comes together with that, having recruits for these video games as nicely, is an actual constructive.”

Certainly, all of Alabama’s 10 neutral-site video games have taken place in Arlington, Atlanta, Jacksonville or Orlando. That development will proceed because the Tide play in Atlanta in 2019, Arlington in 2020 and Atlanta once more in 2021.

Conversely, Alabama has had two true nonconference street video games in the course of the Saban period, when the Tide visited Duke in 2010 and Penn State in 2011. That can change with collection towards Texas (2022-23), West Virginia (2026-27), Notre Dame (2028-29) and Oklahoma (2032-33). That is good new for Alabama followers who’ve bemoaned the Tide’s lack of true nonconference street video games.

The method of scheduling these home-and-homes, nevertheless, has been something however easy.

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All of it begins, Byrne mentioned, by figuring out which colleges might have potential openings for a home-and-home collection. In that effort, he makes use of the FBS scheduling software “Gridiron” – spearheaded by ESPN govt Dave Brown, who helped kickstart the favored marquee neutral-site video games within the first place – to seek out high quality groups with potential openings of their schedule.

From there, Byrne discusses with Saban the potential worth in scheduling opponents from a number of totally different standpoints: How a lot will the staff should journey? What recruits can be good to ask to this recreation? How typically has Alabama visited this stadium?

From there, Byrne reaches out to different ADs, gauging their curiosity. As a way to work out a deal, he has to make sure mutual curiosity from Alabama’s potential opponent, discover dates that work for each colleges and ensure particulars of TV offers are absolutely understood.

Even then, some rogue issue might derail the entire deal.

“I’ve requested ADs in the event that they’d have curiosity and they didn’t,” Byrne mentioned. “And I’ve had colleges attain out to us the place we did not have an curiosity. So that’s, for no matter motive – it could be geography, it could be timing, it could be philosophically the place we’re from a scheduling standpoint – so it needs to be mutual curiosity. We have been lucky that we have had some actually good packages have that curiosity.”

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One attention-grabbing quirk of Alabama’s future home-and-home schedules has been the Tide’s willingness to be the primary staff to journey within the collection. Alabama will journey first to Austin, Morgantown, South Bend and Norman earlier than Texas, West Virginia, Notre Dame and Oklahoma go to Tuscaloosa, respectively.

The explanation for that, Byrne mentioned, is to make sure the Tide have a house nonconference recreation each different yr. When he and Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte labored out the groups’ 2022-23 collection in Could, the Tide occurred to be the visiting staff first. With each collection since, Byrne has ensured Alabama would be the visiting staff first.

“As a lot as you’d wish to have back-to back-years as house video games,” he mentioned, “you do not wish to be gone for 2 straight years for these nonconference video games.”

With a lot of Alabama’s nonconference schedule locked up for the foreseeable future, Byrne mentioned Alabama isn’t engaged on many extra home-and-home collection. The one exception is the two-year opening in 2024-25, which he mentioned he’s at the moment working to fill.

If that collection is just like the others Byrne has helped put collectively, then it probably will probably be a spectacle Alabama followers have been clamoring for.

“There will probably be an opportunity to get (Faculty GameDay), there’s an opportunity you are going to be a nationwide broadcast, and a number of consideration will probably be coming with pleasure on our campuses and with our groups,” Byrne mentioned. “And so these varieties of video games are good for school soccer.”

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