By War Eagle Atlanta
By War Eagle Atlanta
Eight complete seasons have passed since
Earlier this year, not too long after our Chick Fil-A bowl victory, the Tide and the Clemson Tigers inked a deal for a one-game series to be played in the Georgia Dome to kickoff the 2008 season. With a payout for both teams listed to be two million apiece, it was enough for the Tide to eschew that all important 8th home game that pushes most athletic departments across the nation out of the red ink each year. Okay, good move on their part. Hat tip to the Tide for scheduling a quality OOC opponent on such short notice. Clemson looks like they're loaded this year and will most certainly be a pre-season top 10 team.
But now we learn that Bama and Duke are almost set to agree on another game to be played in the Dome, probably in 2010. Wow. Duke, huh? In the Dome? Clemson I can see, but Duke? Are you sure the Chick Fil-A bowl hasn't switched to a pre-season format? Couldn't you throw the Dukies a few bones to lure them to
Give Saban credit. He knows that while the average Bama fan is sitting around waiting for Tuberville and the Tigers to collapse from within like the
But the Tide doesn't have the same name recognition that it once did in the 60s and 70s. They aren't the regional recruiting superpower they used to be, hence trying to gain additional exposure in the southeast, especially in the state of
But the Tide knows that there's really a third team that competes solidly for
But all Bama-bashing aside, I like the idea of these neutral field match ups. Now wait a minute, I know what
But with scheduling these days sometimes done a decade or so in advance, these neutral site games resolve perhaps the biggest problem with coordinating the home-and-home--when to pencil in the return game. Few big name schools are going to pay a house call without a return visit to their place. And face it, fans are getting more vocal with their complaints about playing the cupcakes of the CFB world.
Having a one-game series in an agreed neutral site eliminates the need for two games, thus making scheduling of these games astronomically easier for all parties. This means that you can schedule more prestigious teams, which will probably lead to the TV rights getting picked up for a princely sum, which will give both teams that all important exposure. Also, I'm a firm believer that the road to an eventual playoff might include the mandatory scheduling of BCS teams to play at least one or two OOC BCS teams each year, and such an existing climate in CFB would facilitate that goal tremendously.
Certain venues like the Georgia Dome are actively seeking these type of match ups, as well are as some NFL sites. For quality games, the payout can be enormous--as much as most bowl games. And since the team is forgoing that extra home game, I think the conference allows them to keep more of that payout. Also, fans get a chance to travel a bit, and for the better teams, that always fires up the fan base, especially when they're getting the chance to travel to some big city and party the whole weekend.
Yes, many fans may think of the neutral site game as an anachronism, a relic of the past. Really, the only big game that is still played on a neutral field is the Red River Shoot Out, between
ESPN was pivotal in arranging our last two season openers with
Just imagine the possibilities then of who you might schedule. Perhaps we could meet
I rest my case...