Alabama Football: Crimson Tide schedule affords no favors


Schedules built seasons in advance breed quirkiness for Alabama Football and other teams. Nick Saban prefers to open with a tough out-of-conference game. Despite the hype proclaiming otherwise, the Miami game did not provide such a challenge.

Scheduling an inferior opponent in week two has been common for the Crimson Tide. The Tide has done it 10 times going back to the 2008 season. This season, Miami and Mercer were not adequate preparation for the Florida game.

Overall, the Alabama Football schedule is tough enough. The SEC can always be counted on to provide enough challenge. Using Bill Connelly’s algorithm, the Tide has overall the 16th toughest schedule in the FBS, and the 11th toughest in the remaining regular season. Other SEC schools have tougher, remaining schedules according to Connelly. Arkansas is calculated as having the toughest. The Razorbacks are followed by Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Mississippi State as having more scheduling challenges than the Crimson Tide. It is not coincidental that those six teams play Alabama Football in their regular season.

The primary problem the ’21 schedule presents the Crimson Tide is not opponent difficulty. The problem is timing. It would have been different if Miami was more than an average ACC team. The Hurricanes are now 1-2 and just three points from being 0-3. The ACC is looking weaker than normal this season with losses to Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Rutgers. Miami may struggle to finish third in the ACC Coastal division.

The Tide’s preseason prep anticipated a much stronger Miami team. Beating the Canes so easily was not good for a still-developing Crimson Tide. Scheme was not the problem against Florida. It was execution. The Miami game and even more so, the Mercer game likely gave some Crimson Tide players a false sense of dominance.

It would have been better for game two to have been against a team better than the Canes, rather than a lower-tier, FCS opponent.

In fairness to the scheduling efforts of Nick Saban and Greg Byrne, many teams do not want to play the Tide. In a normal situation, an FCS game is worthwhile for developing backup players.

While Alabama Football was ripe for a “reckoning” as Nick Saban stated, tough opponents had and are getting extra time to prepare. Ole Miss has two weeks to tweak the Ole Miss defense and offense based on what Lane Kiffin saw from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Dan Mullen had an entire offseason to prepare for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama Football Schedule Toughness

After Southern Miss, two of the next three Alabama Football games are on the road.  The end of the three-game run is in Starkville, with Mike Leach’s team having an open week to be ready. There is no breather for the Tide until the Vols come to Tuscaloosa for Homecoming. On that Saturday, Alabama Football will be playing its eighth game in eight weeks. So will Tennessee.

None of the above is presented as a complaint. Over multi-season periods, adverse and favorable schedules hurt and help teams. No team is regularly disadvantaged or advantaged. But 2021 is a season when scheduling gives the Tide no favors.

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Check-in with Bama Hammer later this week for ‘five things fans may not know’ about Southern Miss and Crimson Tide football history.