Larry Burton (Panama City Beach, Fla.) When you're at the top of the heap, everyone wants a piece of you. Some want to take a piece out of you, as Alabama's opponents try to do each week, and some simply want a piece of you for less nefarious reasons.
Now actually whole cities are lining up all wanting a piece of the Bama mystique.
Spurred by the success of Alabama's neutral site games at Atlanta, cities saw this as a cash cow. It brought in money much like a bowl game to the city and right now every city could use a few million dumped in the their area.
Atlanta would always welcome them back, though the idea of Alabama playing in Atlanta rankles both Georgia and Georgia Tech. Both feel it gives Alabama too much publicity and glitter in their own back yard with recruits in that area.
Then Dallas came calling. Alabama would have no trouble filling up Jerry Jones' new palace with a game involving them and say Texas or Oklahoma or even USC.
Now Jacksonville, Florida is making overtones to the Tide that they would like to have the Tide there to open the season. The thoughts of another Alabama-Fla. State game however, was nixed by new head Fla. State football coach Jimbo Fisher.
"We already have a tough out of conference game with Florida. Who needs to add Alabama to that list?" he said at a recent charity golf tournament.
But what about an Alabama-Miami game there? Alabama and anyone would sell the stadium out and it would give Alabama just a little bit recruiting power in that area.
So who's next? How about an Alabama-Ohio State opener at Cleveland's stadium?
Nick Saban has never been afraid of an early season challenge, and such challenges and their consequent wins have propelled them on to national attention and great seasons.
The problem is, who wants to be the sacrificial lamb on Alabama's altar year after year?
It seems that Nick Saban has a way of getting his players at a higher RPM earlier in the season than other coaches have gotten from their teams. And with Alabama in a reload mode, and not a rebuilding mode, for opposing teams, the end result may not be pretty.
Until Alabama cools off a bit, scheduling such games might be difficult. Everyone may want a piece of Alabama right now, but the only ones who would come out winners in the deal may continue to be Alabama and the cities who host those neutral site games.
One thing's for sure, Nike wants another piece of Alabama. They just entered a new deal that may make Alabama another 30 million dollars over the next seven years to be the official footwear and apparel of the Crimson Tide.
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