Playing Cupcakes

Last week, Alabama hammered Georgia State and some among us howled.

This week, Auburn is playing Western Carolina and the same chorus is playing.

But despite what says, should Alabama (or for that matter, Auburn) be playing doormats such as this?  Should a better quality opponent be scheduled?  Or if feasting on cupcakes, should you eat the cupcakes in your own back yard?

My answer to all of these questions is to let the market decide.  I certainly don’t want scheduling ‘Bama’s games nor do I want the general public.  I’ll leave it to the school’s athletics department.  It won’t happen overnight, but if you let the market decide, then schools – even Alabama – will do what is necessary to fill their seats.

Alabama has 12 regular season games each year.  Eight of those are SEC games and four of those eight are home games.  The school has some flexibility with the remaining four games.  All four can be played at home, – giving the school and the city of Tuscaloosa eight home games.  Or, as has been routine, Nick Saban will schedule one of the four out of conference games at a neutral site.  Obviously, this gives the school and the city seven home games, but the school also receives a payment from the host of the neutral site game.  From the school’s stand point, it’s nearly the same as having eight home games.

The Tide’s non-conference schedule this season includes Virginia Tech (played in Atlanta), Colorado State, Georgia State and Tennessee-Chattanooga.  This is basically two certified stinkers (GSU and UTC), one that smells a bit stale (CSU) and a bona fide high profile match-up.  I believe CSU was a replacement opponent (not sure about that), UTC serves as basically an open week before the Auburn game and Georgia State served as the homecoming opponent.

From a season ticket holder’s perspective, the home schedule is bad.  Out of seven games, only LSU and Tennessee are must see.  Ole Miss and Arkansas are nice match-ups, I guess, but don’t really generate any enthusiasm (beyond what Alabama brings by itself).  And then you have the three dogs listed above.

Like I said, from a ticket holders view point, you’re not getting a lot.

But I don’t have a huge problem with the schedule.  The conference schedule was re-jiggered last year and could have just as easily included Georgia, Florida or South Carolina in place of Kentucky this week.  That would have made the schedule look a whole lot different and a whole lot tougher.

I’m also not interested at all in helping in state schools.  As far as I’m concerned, all of these schools are potential competitors for any sort of resource – be it funding dollars or recruits.  These programs do not have Alabama’s best interests in mind.  On the other hand, scheduling a school like Georgia State helps to create the same potential problem for our rivals.  Granted, it will be a long time before GSU competes with Georgia or Georgia Tech, but better to put dollars in their coffer versus South Alabama’s or Troy’s.

I also think you need to schedule wins – or as many wins as you can – in these out of conference match ups.  For years, Alabama played very competitive Southern Mississippi teams.  What’s the point in that?  No good comes from it.  Over time, Alabama’s dollars were used to help build up the USM program – even to the point where the Golden Eagles competed eye-to-eye with ‘Bama.  Why do that?

In the end, though, people will vote via their attendance.  If there are too many dogs on the schedule, attendance – and other things – will suffer.

It’s a delicate balance and one that’s hard to maintain, but for now, I think Alabama’s cupcakes are just fine to eat.