DESTIN, Fla. — University of Alabama director of athletics Greg Byrne has added two marquee nonconference football series to the Alabama football schedule in the coming decade — and he may not be finished.
“We still have a period between (2024 and 2027) where we’re talking about some different scenarios,” Byrne said at the SEC Meetings on Wednesday. “I’m sure neutral games will be part of those years. Will they be all four? I don’t know yet. Depends on how some conversations go.”
Neutral-site games have been a fixture on the Alabama schedule since Nick Saban became head coach at UA in 2007 and have been successful for Alabama, both in on-the-field results — since losing to Florida State in Jacksonville, Alabama has reeled off eight consecutive wins in neutral-site season openers.
“They’ve been very good to us, no question,” Sankey said.
He did not specify any particular schools that Alabama may have joined in scheduling discussions, although he did indicate one factor in the Texas and Notre Dame discussions was “football tradition.”
“One of the things that people often forget about when they have the scheduling discussion is (that) there’s an assumption that both teams want to play each other, and there’s also an assumption that dates can work. Those two things create challenges in that process.
“But I think it is important for all of us as ADs and our coaches — and Coach Saban and I have very much been in lockstep on it — is finding games that our fan bases are going to be excited to be a part of, that our teams are going to be excited to be a part of. And that’s worked for us.”
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with Saban but the two football coaches are in harmony on one issue: headsets.
A recent NCAA directive will limit teams to having just 20 individuals on headsets during football games this fall, although many SEC coaches feel the rule was a sideways swipe at staff sizes that does not address the issue straight on.
The usually mild-mannered Malzahn stopped short of Saban’s characterization of the new rule as “mouse manure when you’re up to your ears in elephant doo-doo,” but he was fairly animated on the issue.
“The 20-headset rule is a joke,” Malzahn said following the football coaches’ session at the SEC Spring Meetings on Wednesday. “There’s no doubt about it. I think that’s got the ability to hurt our game. That’s a really big deal and it came about just to try to affect the staff sizes.
“Any rule that’s put in place because of something else is not good.”
Malzahn, like Saban, said the rule would hurt younger coaches who listen as much for education as participation.
“That’s something we’re going to have to deal with,” he said. “The quality of the game, coaching, that’s what I’m concerned about. The fact that you can only have 10 assistants or your four GAs up in the booth and have headsets on and then you’re going to put four of your current players on a headset? I don’t know. I mean, that’s going to affect the game. And that’s disappointing.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.