There is no way to reduce the temperature on the field for the rest of the 2019 football season. But maybe it’s time to dial back the rhetoric.
Nobody has contributed to it any more than I have, but the fact is, at this point, nothing is going to change about the 2019 schedule for the University of Alabama. There has been plenty of heat over the last couple of days, certainly since Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne and UA President Dr. Stuart Bell issued a statement of disappointment about the lack of non-conference night games, specifically referencing the Sept. 21 Southern Miss game but clearly hinting at broader-based concerns from the past couple of years. That, in turn, opened the floodgates for all sorts of response. Some was intelligent. Some was the usual radio ranting about Alabama’s non-conference schedule. I’m sure many of those insights were as fascinating as all get-out and, of course, utterly irrelevant to the topic at hand. Even Auburn coach Gus Malzahn took a shot.
Let’s be honest about one thing: Last Saturday was, in many ways, a debacle. Some of that was due to the kickoff time, which was obviously going to be a problem from the very moment that a 3 p.m. kickoff was announced last spring. Some of the problems were on Alabama’s end, like a lack of adequate water at many concession stands. UA will work to correct those. Furthermore, the announcement of another early kickoff for the Southern Miss game, coming less than 48 hours later, didn’t salve any feelings among the Alabama fan base. That was the reaction that caused Dr. Bell and Greg Byrne to issue a statement — not as a rebellion against the Southeastern Conference, but as reassurance that fan concerns were being heard. If the result is also a better mutual dialogue with the SEC Office going forward, then that’s a positive.
So what about the rest of 2019?
There is a September game remaining, a conference game against Ole Miss on Sept. 28. The possibilities for that game aren’t settled yet, and there is probably a fair chance that CBS will take one of its contractually allowed six-day exemptions next Monday without announcing any game time for another week. The other SEC possibilities that week are Arkansas-Texas A&M, Auburn-Mississippi State and Kentucky-South Carolina. Auburn will have played Texas A&M on CBS the week before. So if Alabama beats South Carolina, the network may wait and see how Ole Miss fares against Cal on Sept. 21 before making a choice. So, for the moment, it’s a possible night game but also a possibility for a 2:30 kickoff. That’s followed by an open week and a trip to Texas A&M, leaving the next possibility for a night game at Bryant-Denny Stadium as the Oct. 19 game against Tennessee — if that. (By that time, the heat issue will presumably be moot.)
The Nov. 9 game against LSU, a rivalry contest traditionally played at night, will almost certainly be at 2:30 on CBS.
That may not sound like a set of great options, but that’s what out there. And perhaps there will be more cooperation all around to make things less sticky in 2020.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt