Kudos to Alabama football for scheduling tough non-conference opponents

Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Alabama Crimson Tide have been ridiculed for soft non-conference schedules before, but we need to give Alabama football props for what’s on the horizon.

Nobody denies how tough an eight-game SEC schedule can get.

When you play in a division like the SEC West, there are few easy outs, even if you’re a great program like the Alabama Crimson Tide. However, Alabama football has been criticized in the past for having soft non-conference schedules during the Nick Saban era. He’ll welcome any Power 5 team to Bryant-Denny but will only play them away from Tuscaloosa if it’s at a neutral site.

Because the SEC West doesn’t have an in-state ACC rivalry they have to play annually like some of its SEC East counterparts, teams like Alabama can get away with this as long as they dominate SEC play. But with the SEC now having teams that can challenge the Crimson Tide internally, they were left with no choice but to dial up some worthy Power 5 adversaries in the non-conference.

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With Alabama adding the Pac-12’s Arizona Wildcats for a home-and-home in 2032 and 2033, we need to respect the job Greg Byrne is doing as an athletic director. Saban may not coach in hardly any of these games, but Alabama doesn’t seem to be afraid of playing anyone, anytime, anywhere in the non-conference anymore.

Here’s what’s on tap for the Crimson Tide in the years to come.

Alabama football future non-conference games

  • 2020: USC (Dallas)
  • 2021: Miami (ATL)
  • 2022: at Texas
  • 2023: Texas
  • 2024: at Wisconsin
  • 2025: Wisconsin, at Florida State
  • 2026: Florida State, at West Virginia
  • 2027: West Virginia
  • 2028: at Notre Dame
  • 2029: Notre Dame
  • 2030: at Georgia Tech
  • 2031: Georgia Tech
  • 2032: Arizona, at Oklahoma
  • 2033: Oklahoma, at Arizona
  • 2034: at Virginia Tech
  • 2035: Virginia Tech

After a pair of Saban-esque neutral-site affairs with USC in Arlington in 2020 and Miami in Atlanta in 2021, you can finally see the home-and-home action starting to manifest on Alabama’s non-conference schedule. With opponents like Texas, Wisconsin, Florida State, West Virginia and Notre Dame all playing home-and-homes with Alabama in the 2020s, you have to be excited about this.

In the early 2030s, the Crimson Tide have more home-and-homes with Georgia Tech, Arizona, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. The college football landscape may look completely different by 2035 when the Hokies come to Bryant-Denny, but having home-and-homes with these nine Power 5 programs are what college football fans crave in the non-conference.

Though you can’t guarantee how those matchups will look years from now, athletic directors like Byrne have to try to put something intriguing on the books. Saban’s reluctance to play many of these games in his 60s may go down as a major critique of his dynasty, but Alabama football will have done its part to give the fans what they want in the non-conference in the next two decades.

By the time many of these games will have rolled around, we should expect a college football czar to oversee the Power 5. There will be certain protocols in place like a universal nine-game conference schedule and a mandatory Power 5 opponent in the non-conference. So this could just be Alabama getting out ahead of the inevitable. This may be true, but we do applaud the effort.

Beginning in 2022, Alabama will be like everybody else, playing home-and-homes with Power 5s.

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