Alabama has not played an in-state opponent not named Auburn since 1944, and it appears that is a trend unlikely to change course. At SEC spring meetings, Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne said he did not see the Crimson Tide looking to schedule any in-state opponents for future non-conference games at any point in the future.
The last team from the state of Alabama to play the Crimson Tide in a non-conference game was Samford, and that was before the school was known as Samford. Despite a number of options within the state boundaries that would love a chance to
accept a big paycheck play Alabama such as UAB, Troy, South Alabama, and additional FCS schools like Alabama A&M and Jacksonville State, Alabama instead chooses to fill any scheduling vacancies with smaller schools outside of the state but within the southeastern region after booking multi-million dollar games against power conference opponents on a neutral field.
The main criticism Alabama receives for their supposed scheduling policy is they miss out on an opportunity to help keep money in the state to help out other schools in the state. It is a fair criticism to point out, but one that is easily refuted by the idea that it is not Alabama’s mission to help keep other programs afloat. Alabama scheduling a game against another school in the state would barely chip at the Alabama pedigree, so there is minimal risk involved in playing these games. So why would Alabama choose note to sign these schools?
It could be that Alabama is showing mercy in most respects. Sure, the paydays from Alabama would be nice, but those schools can likely get those paychecks from a number of other places, and they would avoid getting demolished by the Crimson Tide in the process. But that would suggest Alabama is looking out for the best interests for Alabama. But maybe there is another explanation.
As I suggested in the Bump and Run bumpcast today, there could be a reason why Alabama would choose not to schedule programs like UAB or South Alabama and so on for future non-conference matchups. Why pick on the cupcakes in your own state when you can flex some muscle throughout the SEC’s footprint against other opponents from Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and so on? Alabama is in a position where it doesn’t need much help in recruiting, but there could be something to be gained by playing out of state opponents and thrashing them throughout the SEC’s (and ACC’s) stomping grounds. It puts more good press for Alabama in more headlines in all of those states, instead of just the ones in Alabama already buzzing about the Tide.
Sure, it would be nice of Alabama to throw a bone to an in-state opponent a little more often than once every 75 years and counting, but Alabama is out to do what is best for Alabama. Playing out of state cupcakes serves more of a purpose for Alabama’s main objective.