Fewer Alabama football games in 2020 could be an improvement on standard scheduling.
Not playing any of the currently scheduled 12, Alabama football games does not sit well with fans. If the SEC decides to reduce the regular to conference-only, there is a great suggestion for how to choose each team’s ninth game.
Pairing teams based on geographic lines and/or competitive levels is a good suggestion. That Alabama football, Florida, LSU and Georgia get stiff challenges makes sense. If the Crimson Tide gets the Gators, it would be unfair for LSU to play Vanderbilt.
The Ole Miss vs. Kentucky and Mississippi State vs. South Carolina games come close to talent parity. The Auburn Tigers and the Tennessee Vol have a talent disparity but the two programs have a long history. Pairing the two schools with the shortest SEC histories, Texas A&M and Missouri also makes sense. Arkansas vs. Vandy gives each team a chance for what will be few wins.
That suggested nine-game schedule would be as or more attractive than what it would replace. Making it better would only take a single-game deviation from a conference-only plan. A tenth game could be added in any of the slots vacated from currently scheduled out-of-conference games. The best way to do so would be to mandate the tenth game, be either a Group of Five opponent or an in-state team.
The best case for Alabama football would be:
- September 5 – Home vs UAB, USA, Troy or Jacksonville
- September 12 – Home or Away vs Florida
- September 19 – Home vs. Georgia
- September 26 – Open
- October 3 – Away vs. Ole Miss
- October 10 – Away vs. Arkansas
- October 17 – Home vs. Mississippi State
- October 24 – Away vs. Tennessee
- October 31 – Open
- November 7 – Away vs. LSU
- November 14 – Open
- November 21 – Home vs. Texas A&M
- November 28 – Home vs. Auburn
Yes, other currently scheduled games will need to be rescheduled. The Gators have a home game with Kentucky on Sept. 19. The entire SEC schedule would be revised if four new open dates per team were not enough. To make it easier to get all the games in, the SEC Championship game could be pushed back a week or two.
However it was accomplished, the above Alabama Crimson Tide schedule would be better than what it replaced. An added bonus would be much-needed cash infusion for a couple of in-state programs (after an Auburn in-state matchup).
Does this scheduling idea have any chance of being implemented? Probably not, for multiple reasons. But if it was, the Alabama football season (even without fan attendance) would be very attractive.
If any fans are allowed inside Bryant-Denny in the 2020 season, ticket demand will far exceed any reduced capacity. Whatever changes are implemented, it is time for the SEC to decide – now, not in August.