Alabama – Florida State to Play in 2007
The Alabama Crimson Tide and Florida State Seminoles, two of the more storied teams in college football, are expected to announce an agreement to play a neutral-site game in the 2007 season.
Hurdles cleared for Tide-FSU game (Birmingham News)
An announcement that Alabama and Florida State will play a football game in 2007 appears imminent. Officials from both schools on Tuesday said they’re optimistic TV hurdles have been cleared and the proposed neutral-site game at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., will take place. “We’ve made progress,” Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore said. “And hopefully, we’ll have something (to announce) in the short future.”
Moore and FSU AD Dave Hart have been in agreement for several months to play this game. It’s been in the hands of the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference since Moore met with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive on Aug. 25 in Birmingham to discuss how to make the game work. The SEC wanted CBS, its broadcast partner, to get the game. The ACC wanted ABC to get it. A possible solution is ESPN, which is both conferences’ broadcast partner.
This should be both exciting for the fans and lucrative for both programs.
Unfortunately, given the way college football is currently structured, it is also incredibly stupid for teams trying to compete for a (mythical) national championship. The SEC has long been the deepest football conference, putting it at a decided disadvantage for a team seeking to go undefeated. The addition of a conference championship game in 1992 made it even more difficult. The ACC was long a basketball conference but, with the addition of FSU in 1991 and, especially, Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004, the ACC is now a legitimate contender for the title of strongest conference.
For Alabama to have a shot at the national title, it has to beat SEC West division powerhouses LSU and Auburn; Tennessee or Georgia; and then win the SEC championship game. For FSU to do it, it likely needs to beat Miami and Virginia Tech along with regular SEC/in-state rival Florida. Adding another national title contender to the mix magnifies the chance of failure.
Of course, winning such a game improves a team’s ranking and increases its chances of getting a BCS title game berth. Last year, Auburn managed to go undefeated through the SEC and not get a chance to compete for the national title, the first time that has happened. But it’s much easier to get a bid going undefeated with a mediocre schedule than with a loss and a great one.
Update (Oct. 26): It took some time but it’s now official.
TUSCALOOSA – The much-anticipated game is finally set on Alabama’s football schedule for 2007. The Crimson Tide will play Florida State in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sept. 29, 2007, matching Division I’s all-time winningest coach against his home state school and the program built by the coach who once held the record. “I grew up on Alabama football and have always wanted the chance to play against them,” Florida State coach and Birmingham native Bobby Bowden said. “All of my early life was centered around the teams of Frank Thomas and Bear Bryant. I know their history well.”
Bowden has 357 career wins, having passed Joe Paterno, with 350 to date, and Bryant’s 323.
The contract between the schools, which has not been signed, still has some details to finalize in talks that have been ongoing for more than a year. Tickets at Alltel Stadium, which hosted the Super Bowl last January and is home to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and the Gator Bowl, will be split 50/50 between the schools.
The Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference ironed out the television rights, which had been a major sticking point. The game will be televised either by CBS or ESPN, a decision that won’t be made until about two weeks before the game.
Also, it’s just a one-game arrangement. “The year that Florida State had an opening … we were also looking for a game,” Tide athletic director Mal Moore said. “The return game would have been way down the road. We felt it would just be better just to do the one-game stand. That’s what we pushed for.”
The addition of the FSU game does not complete Alabama’s 2007 schedule, which has yet to be finalized. The Tide is still seeking a home game to round out the schedule. “Our focus is obviously this week (on Utah State), but we’re excited to be able to play a program like Florida State’s with the tradition of winning that they have there,” Tide coach Mike Shula said.
Bowden has been impressed by the Tide’s 7-0 start and No. 5 national ranking. “Alabama looks like the old Alabama to me now,” Bowden said. “I hope we haven’t bitten off more than we can chew.”
As noted in my original posting, both teams likely hope that. Somebody’s chances at a national championship will likely evaporate come Sept. 29, 2007.