Alabama Football: A scheduling disappointment and embarrassment

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

A week ago, we posed the question, is Nick Saban poised to move past FCS games. At that time, none of the future Alabama Football schedules had games with FCS opponents. On Tuesday, an answer to the question was provided by several sources.

Eastern Illinois will come to Tuscaloosa in 2025. Tennessee-Martin will play the Crimson Tide in Bryant-Denny in 2028.

Those of us hoping the Crimson Tide would join the FBS trend-setters in not playing FCS games are disappointed. Frankly, a degree of embarrassment is not unwarranted.

Why the new Alabama Football games disappoint

In our post last week, we pointed out Ohio State has not played an FCS team since the 2013 season – and,

"Along with Ohio State, were Big Ten teams Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Purdue and Wisconsin. Also not playing FCS games in 2021 were Notre Dame, Stanford, Texas, UCLA and Southern Cal."

Whether deserving of ridicule or not, the two new additions of FCS games, allow fans of other teams to be disdainful of the Tide’s scheduling.

The problem for Nick Saban and Alabama Football is one of competitive disadvantage. If every possible CFB Playoff contender does not also cease to play FCS teams, the Crimson Tide might, in a given season, have a Playoff disadvantage.

Almost five years ago, Nick Saban, talking on ESPN’s Sports Center, advocated for all-FBS schedules for all FBS teams. His idea gained little support. Saban has also been clear, if only a few teams make the move away from FCS games, those that do might miss a Playoff berth because of it. It could happen with a Pac 12 team, with a weak schedule going undefeated, while an Alabama or Ohio State with a much tougher schedule loses a game. The undefeated team, playing one or more FCS opponents might bump a better team out of the Playoff field.

In fairness to the proponents of FBS vs. FCS games, there is a correct argument. The FCS programs need the cash infusion. Another argument of lesser value is FBS backup players get snaps against FCS opponents they might not receive against FBS teams.

There is a gray area as well. There are some FCS schools that can compete with some FBS opponents. The best FCS teams in a given year are equal to or better than some of the worst Power Five teams. That small number of the best FCS teams, are equal to or better than, many Group of Five teams.

But, most often, the games are horrible mismatches. Fans do not enjoy them and attendance suffers.

Beyond all the plusses and minuses is one glaring optic. A heavyweight, like the Alabama Crimson Tide, beating up on a Mercer, an Austin Peay or an Eastern Illinois gives a bad impression. The impression is false – Alabama does not dodge taking on the best teams – but playing the lightweights suggests otherwise.

Expecting big seasons for these NFL rookies. dark. Next

More games against lightweights are likely to occur. The Crimson Tide needs two more games for the 2023 season, unless the SEC moves to nine games by then. If the SEC does, another game opening will still need filling.