The latest TV schedules for upcoming games on the SEC schedule were recently confirmed by the conference and their television partners. Among the games locked in for a noon kickoff in Week 4 is Alabama’s home game against Southern Miss, and apparently Alabama Athletics Director Greg Byrne is not particularly pleased about it.
In a statement released by Byrne and Alabama on Monday, the AD of the Crimson Tide says the program is disappointed in having another daytime kickoff time added to the schedule. The game against Southern Miss will be the fourth straight afternoon game for Alabama in the first four games of the season, although this will be the first noon kickoff while the others have been mid-afternoon starts.
“We are disappointed that our game against Southern Miss has been selected as a daytime kickoff at home,” Byrne said in his statement. “We realize we’ve played more non-conference day games at home in September than any other SEC team since 2014.”
While Alabama has played a good handful of day games against non-conference opponents, the Crimson Tide have played just five games at noon (Worth noting Byrne didn’t single out noon games and could be including mid-afternoon start times in his rationale, but we’ll focus on noon kickoffs as they tend to get the worst brunt of the weather during the day in September).
- In 2018, Alabama played two noon games against non-conference opponents (Louisiana and The Citadel), one at 3:30 p.m. ET (Arkansas State) and one in primetime on a neutral field (Louisville in Orlando, FL).
- In 2017, Alabama played Florida State at primetime in Atlanta and then played Fresno State at 3:30 p.m. and Colorado State at 7:00 p.m. A later game against Mercer was played at noon.
- In 2016, Alabama played USC in primetime in Arlington, Texas, Western Kentucky at 3:30 p.m. ET, Kent State at noon, and Chattanooga at 7:00 p.m.
- In 2015, Alabama played Wisconsin in primetime in Arlington, Texas, Middle Tennessee at 4:00 p.m., ULM at 4:00 p.m., and Charleston Southern at 4:00 p.m.
- In 2014, Alabama played West Virginia in Atlanta at 4:00 p.m., FAU at noon, Southern Miss at 6:00 p.m. and Western Carolina at 4:00 p.m.
Byrne’s concern was largely focused on playing day games in September, which of course can raise some concerns for fans attending games with the weather. But even if you include just September games, Alabama has played just four games at noon since 2014 in the month of September. They have also played 6 games in primetime in September in that same span. Regardless of the logic behind the concern, Byrne says the concern has been shared with the SEC.
“There have been a number of conversations with our conference office, and they also recognize the challenges these kick times present for our student-athletes and fans.”
The problem with college football scheduling is TV partners are trying to cram in games wherever they can, and there are only so many time slots to fill for 130 FBS teams. Teams in the east will have to take some noon kickoffs at some point in time, and if you aren’t playing an opponent that is worthy of a game that should get a better time slot, that’s just something you have to deal with. And at Alabama, the fans will show up anyway.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban may be the most powerful person within the Alabama sports department, but even he has a boss. Now, he will have a new boss.
Alabama Director of Athletics Bill Battle is stepping down into retirement from his current position, although he will remain active in the university as a special assistant to university president Stuart Bell. Battle has been fighting through health issues and completed treatment for cancer last summer. His vacant spot in the athletics department will be filled by Arizona Athletics Director Greg Byrne. A formal announcement has not been made as of yet, but multiple reports have confirmed the pending Byrne hiring. (UPDATE: Alabama has since formally announced the hiring of Byrne)
”Bill has done a tremendous job as director of athletics, and has accomplished so much during his career,” Bell said, according to the Associated Press. ”His business expertise, coupled with his coaching experience and his strong understanding of the role an athletic department has in the daily fabric of a university, has allowed us to achieve the great successes we have enjoyed during his tenure. We are blessed to have the continued benefit of his counsel.”
The hiring of Byrne takes Alabama outside its own foundation to bring in an outsider to lead the sports department. Byrne is an Idaho native who has worked in an administrative role in two SEC schools, so he will be familiar with the landscape the conference has to offer. Byrne was the athletics director of Mississippi State from 2008 through 2010 before moving to Arizona for the past six years. At Mississippi State, Byrne hired football coach Dan Mullen. Byrne also held an associate AD role at Kentucky, where he directed development and fundraising efforts for the Wildcats.
The SEC’s new scheduling policy forces all members to schedule one game per year against a school from another power conference. Where Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky all have ACC rival partners to make things easier, schools like Mississippi State need to think a little more outside the box. In 2022 and 2023, that non-scheduling requirement will be fulfilled with a series against Arizona, from the Pac-12.
Arizona and Mississippi State announced a home-and-home series scheduled in 2022 and 2023, marking the first games scheduled in the new series. Arizona will host Mississippi State in 2022 and Mississippi State will host the Wildcats in 2023. The specific dates for the games have not been determined just yet.
According to FBSchedules.com, Arizona is the only team from a power conference currently on the non-conference schedule for Mississippi State through 2023, but that will be sure to change with the new scheduling policy. The Pac-12 has no non-conference scheduling requirement to guarantee games against power conference opponents for its members, but with strength of schedule to become a factor in the College Football Playoff it is certainly good to see schools looking for opponents from other premiere conferences when available.
“We’re excited to announce this competitive series for our future football schedules,” Arizona Athletics Director Greg Byrne said in a statement about the scheduling news. Byrne also happens to be a former AD at Mississippi State, which may have helped in putting this series together. “The opportunity to play an SEC opponent will be a great addition to our schedule for our program and our fans.”
Arizona has a small history with SEC opponents, and it has not been a favorable one. The Wildcats are 1-5-1 all-time against SEC schools dating back to 1968. Two of those games were bowl games. Arizona’s last game against a team from the SEC was in 2006, a 45-3 loss to LSU. In 2003 LSU pounded Arizona 59-13 as well. The lone win against an SEC school for Arizona came on September 11, 1976 with a 31-19 victory against Auburn.
Mississippi State’s history against the Pac-12 is even more limited, with just three games dating back to 1977. The Bulldogs are 1-2 against the Pac-12. The lone win came on September 10, 1977 against Washington.