Alabama plays Georgia Southern this week and Auburn plays Samford as each school tunes up for next week’s Iron Bowl. So, it must also be time for another lecture from The Birmingham News:
If you’re going to spend money to pay for lower-profile games — and everyone does — why not keep the cash in state? Why not play Troy, UAB or South Alabama, Samford or Jacksonville State, Alabama State or Alabama A&M, and help them find games? Stop with the argument that it’s not Alabama’s responsibility to prop up others, as if the occasional in-state game will weaken the Alabama football machine.
No, I won’t stop because it’s not the University of Alabama’s job to prop up every football program in the state. Just because a school decides to play big boy football it’s not Bama’s job to ensure that those programs remain economically viable or for any other reason. Oh, and by the way, who made The Birmingham News the purveyor of what is a worthy argument and what is not? That’s the same thing as trying to tell another person how to spend their money.
But the author doesn’t stop their, though. He then plays the Tornado Card:
It’s called throwing a bone to the neighbors, some of whom have helped Tuscaloosa rebuild since the tornado. It’s called promoting football across the state and giving some kids the chance to play against their favorite team.
Oh, please. Give me a break. Play an in-state school because some of their followers participated in tornado relief? I think I have now heard it all. Well, guess what? I participated in tornado relief, too. I think I’d like to run a newspaper. Would your boss like to slide over for a couple of months while I run the show? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Then do it. Because it’s embarrassing how much Alabama goes out of its way to avoid the neighbors.
It is? Who exactly is it embarrassing? Not me. Probably none of the 100,000+ that will fill Bryant-Denny on Saturday to watch the Tide play Georgia Southern, either. Who is it embarrassing? UAB? Well, if that’s the case then good.
Wait, wait, they have something else…stats!
Out of the 66 schools in an automatic-qualifying BCS conference, only Minnesota and Nebraska have gone longer than Alabama without playing an in-state nonconference game. Minnesota and Nebraska have a valid excuse: There are no other Division I football teams in their state. Alabama has seven to pick from as nonconference opponents.
In the past 10 years, only 11 of the 66 BCS schools failed to play an in-state team out of conference: Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Connecticut, Kansas, Kansas State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Rutgers, Washington State and Wisconsin. By far, Alabama has the most opportunities among that group to stay in state.
Again, I say a big so what?
Alabama appears determined to win an electoral map for the fun of it.
Alabama football provides an enormous economic impact on this state regardless of the opponent. But what other economic engine could get away with this much outsourcing?
Alabama doesn’t have to go on a shopping spree for in-state schools. Just be a good neighbor.
“Just be a good neighbor.” The final bit of reasoning. Another way to say they don’t have any good reason, just do what they like.
For the record, I am opposed to playing most any and all state programs. I view them as competitors. They wouldn’t skip practicing the week before they played Alabama. And while it’s unlikely they would win or ever begin to compete on the same level as Alabama, I see no reason to give them a leg up.
But if Mal Moore and Nick Saban decide to schedule a game against one of these schools, I’ll most likely watch, listen or attend, just like I do most every Alabama game. Moore and Saban are big boys and they can schedule whomever they like. But the reasons for playing the game should be decided by what is best for the university and the athletic program, not based on what’s best for UAB’s, South Alabama’s or any other athletic program.
And certainly not based on the hot air The Birmingham News blows.