Depending how factors on a few fronts shake out, two of the most storied football programs in the history of college football could meet on the gridiron for the first time in over three decades. Maybe. Possibly.
A USC official confirmed to Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News that discussions have taken place regarding a future neutral site game against Alabama. Specifically, there have been talks about the Tide and the Trojans opening the 2016 season at the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
The two programs last met in the Aloha Bowl following the 1985 season and first met in 1938. All told, the Tide and the Trojans have squared off seven times — the former owns a 5-2 edge — including the historic meeting in 1970 “in which John McKay’s visiting Trojans, with their all-black starting backfield, pounded Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant’s all-white Crimson Tide 42-21.” That game, the story goes, forever changed Alabama football.
Adding further intrigue would be Lane Kiffin, who was fired as USC’s head coach a month into the 2013 season and then hired as Alabama’s offensive coordinator a few months later. And, yes, I would be just as giddy about such a game as I was when Kiffin was hired by Nick Saban.
There are, however, several hurdles that need to be navigated before such a clash of iconic brands could take place.
“We often get approached about scheduling opportunities,” the spokesperson told the News. “We have been approached about doing this game and we are looking at it, but there are a number of real challenges to scheduling this game. For instance, our 2016 schedule is full. We also need to evaluate the financial ramifications. At the end of the day, that could be an issue.”
For his part, Saban would only talk in scheduling generalities when asked about the potential matchup.
“We’re always looking, but not anything I can share with you right now,” the coach said according to the Anniston Star. “I don’t think we want to create speculation. We’re playing Wisconsin in Dallas the next year (2015 opener), and we were supposed to play Penn State in 2016. They bailed out on us, so we’re looking for an opponent to play somewhere in 2016 right now.
According to the excellent website FBSchedules.com, the Trojans, which play nine conference games in the Pac-12, only have two of its three non-conference games booked that year: the annual rivalry game with Notre Dame and the opener against New Mexico. Perhaps the third game has been finalized and not announced?
Regardless, there are no real scheduling issues on the Tide’s end as UA has yet to announce any of their four non-conference games that season. In September of last year, UA canceled a home-and-home series with Michigan State that was to begin in 2016.
As far as the financial ramifications go, owner Jerry Jones and his stadium will make sure each team is handsomely rewarded for giving up a home game. In 2017, for instance, both Florida and Michigan will be paid in excess of $6 million for playing their opener at Cowboys Stadium.
(Photo credit: Showtime)