Alabama: 3 Reasons a 9-Game SEC Schedule Would Benefit the Tide
University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban is the only Southeastern Conference coach in favor of a nine-game conference schedule. But increasing the conference schedule by one game seems imminent for the teams in college football's best conference, whether the other 13 coaches like it or not.
Saban must see something down the road that his peers don't, because he is adamant about the change. But as for now, the Crimson Tide are faced with eight conference opponents per regular season, and they seem to have fared well with the current layout.
However, if the traditional way of doing things were to change, Alabama might reap the benefits for a variety of reasons.
Here we break down the top three reasons why the Crimson Tide would benefit from a nine-game SEC schedule.
3. More Exposure
If Alabama was granted one more SEC game on its schedule, it would mean yet another nationally televised game to play in; as if the Crimson Tide need more national exposure. But it would only benefit the winner of three of the past four national championships.
More exposure means more fans. More fans means more money. More money means more facilities and resources. It's a never-ending more cycle.
Another conference game gives reporters one more game to write about that thousands of fans will read. It's one more television promotion for ESPN or CBS. It's just more of everything for Alabama. And it's that exposure that has been the kindling for the fire that has fueled this locomotive that is Alabama football, and there is no end to the tracks in sight for this runaway train.
The national exposure allows for the Crimson Tide to gain fans outside of the Bible Belt. A lot of unbiased fans want to know who Alabama is playing that week, and what team it will be facing. And one more game just adds to that fascination.
It builds to the fans' interest.
2. Increase in Fan Interest
And the interest of the fans is the scent that Saban has picked up on.
Fewer people are buying tickets to enjoy a college football game in person when all of them are accessible through any basic cable package. Empty stadiums do not fuel juggernaut college football programs like Alabama. And Bryant-Denny Stadium's 101,821 seating capacity could see a decline in attendance for not-so-exciting games.
But if the one easy matchup against teams like Western Carolina or Florida Atlantic is eliminated, more people will be fighting over the extra SEC East opponent each season.
Sure, the Crimson Tide are going to face Tennessee every year, but that only leaves one other option for the second SEC East slot. The SEC East is on the rise, with teams like Georgia, Florida and South Carolina excelling in recent seasons. And Alabama needs to face those teams.
With the ninth conference game, it can still face its rival in Tennessee but also play against both Georgia and Florida in the same season before the SEC Championship Game. That's what fans want to see.
If five of seven of Alabama's home games are against elite SEC competition, Bryant-Denny Stadium will be packed every Saturday in the fall.
The strengthening of an already-tough schedule should draw in the fans.
1. Strengthened Schedule for Postseason
The past two seasons, Alabama has not finished its season with an unblemished record. It has willed its way into the BCS National Championship Game and proved why it belonged there.
But there are always analysts and fans with cases for other teams to be in the big game. Why does Alabama deserve to play for another title over these other teams? And it always goes back to the SEC and its strength of schedule.
If the Crimson Tide added another conference game to their regular-season schedule, their postseason case would increase, and the murmurs of others would have less of a rebuttal.
The SEC is strong; everyone knows that. Seven national championships in a row can't be a fluke. And if the best conference in the country forced its teams to face each other one more week in the season, replacing one of its cupcake contests with a tough conference opponent, its claim at national dominance become unprecedented.
If Alabama strengthened its schedule by facing an extra SEC East foe, along with its early season nonconference games against the likes of Michigan and Virginia Tech, it would only reap the benefits from the bold scheduling endeavor.
The rest of the SEC coaches may want to keep things the same, but Alabama wants to remain at the top of the mountain and embraces the changes that will help the league grow for the future.