Alabama AD claps back at a fan who ripped its 2019 non-conference schedule

Alabama AD Greg Byrne at Bryant-Denny Stadium during 2019 season
Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

With 69 days separating Alabama football fans from the start of the 2019 season, news has surfaced about recruiting and a certain fan on Twitter who took shots at the Crimson Tide’s non-conference schedule for the upcoming fall. 

In the last few years or so, supporters of other institutions have been disturbed about the lack of challenging out-of-conference games on Alabama’s schedule.

Some of them, including national media personalities, have gone as far as to say “the Tide plays nobody” upon the program winning a national championship – due to not matching up with teams they deem as “tough.” 

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Despite seeing Nick Saban schedule 11 marquee non-conference games since 2007 to start Alabama’s season, somehow it is not enough. The Tide has twice faced Florida State and Virginia Tech, while battling Clemson, Penn State, Michigan, West Virginia, Southern California and Louisville 

After looking at Alabama’s slate of games for this season, Paul Finebaum of SEC Network (ESPN) posted a graphic to social media on last week.

The photo had the non-conference games for Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and the Tide.

With Saban’s bunch facing Duke, New Mexico State, Southern Mississippi and Western Carolina, ESPN crowned Alabama as one of the four Southeastern Conference schools in the Top-10 Easiest Non-Conference schedules category. 

Jonathan Allen, former Alabama defensive end, came to the defense of his Alma mater – bringing up the fact of the school’s conference slate is more challenging than any other conference in the sport – however, another fan quickly came for Alabama’s athletic director Greg Byrne. 

Byrne, who enters his third year of football as AD, offered a response that was tactful and conversation ending. It’s safe to say that one would not want to bring a knife to a gun fight with him, when it comes to the Crimson Tide. 

Schedules are made out three to four years (sometimes five years) in advance, during a time when the opponent is either a powerhouse program or one on the rise. Should the team falter before Alabama faces it, the mistake of scheduling does not fall on the Tide. Of course, there have also been moments where Alabama has wanted to have more challenging games on its schedule but the other institutions have yet to respond. 

Saban was also one that initiated a nine-game conference schedule, unfortunately, the idea was shut down by others in the SEC. 

All in all, the Tide wants to play “elite” opponents.  

It takes two to agree and as for the future, USC (2020), Miami (2021), Texas (2022-23) and Notre Dame (2027, 2029) all have agreed to home and home series with Alabama. 

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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