Alabama football was once again on the mind of the west coast when Colin Cowherd went on one of his uninformed rants, yet again.
You’ll have to forgive Colin Cowherd. Again. The once respectable ESPN radio host took the red-eye from Bristol, CT, and crash-landed into something called FS1. They say it’s a cable sports channel. Sometimes they even show sports.
Whatever FS1 is, it’s evidently a hard place to land. Anyone listening to Cowherd’s recent rants — and there are fewer and fewer people listening these days — would say he seems a little angry lately. Almost bitter.
Evidently, the man has Mad Cowherd Disease.
Earlier this week, Cowherd said Alabama football manipulates its schedule in order to rest multiple starters the week before big games. You “herd” him. And if you saw him, you’d know he actually said it with a straight face. Here is the video if you can stomach it.
Here’s the truth about the Alabama football schedule.
First, the SEC schedule is made (surprise, surprise) by the SEC office. They decide when you play, who you play and where you play. Not the schools. Not Nick Saban. Not Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s grave. The SEC office.
That means it’s impossible for Alabama to manipulate much of anything. The only real control an SEC school has is to take the five, sometimes six, remaining weeks of the regular season, and fill them with four games. To say Alabama manipulates its schedule is like saying an infant manipulated God into placing him with wealthy parents.
Second, consider the Crimson Tide’s four-week run in October 2015. At Georgia; Arkansas at home; at Texas A&M; Tennessee at home. And the Orange Team was coming off a bye week, while Alabama was playing its eighth straight game. Saban didn’t rest his starters. He wore them the hell out.
This season is similar. At Arkansas, at Tennessee and Texas A&M at home in consecutive weeks. Then at LSU. Sure, Alabama has a bye the week for its trip to Baton Rouge. But so do the Tigers.
And let’s not even mention 2010 — okay, let’s do — when six teams had byes the week before playing Alabama.
Fire the manipulators.
Finally, and most importantly, there’s the strength of schedule (SOS) itself. In the last five seasons, the Tide’s SOS has finished ranked first, second, first, third and sixth. This year’s pre-season SOS ranking? Ninth.
If Alabama is manipulating its schedule, it’s doing a lousy job.
All of this begs the question, Why take one of the toughest annual schedules in the college game and argue that it should be even tougher? Why argue that Alabama gets to rest starters before big games when it can so easily be proven false?
For most people, these would be non-starters. For Cowherd, they’re fire-starters. He’s a journalistic arsonist. A journasonist. Now more than ever, he probably feels as though he has to be.
Cowherd is a lot of things, but he’s not stupid. He’s been told to cater to his shrinking audience, the bulk of which hates the SEC. Never mind the truth, they say. Just get ratings. So in order to gain traction in an ever-competitive market – and in order to keep his job – he obliges.
Now look who’s being manipulated.