Alabama AD Greg Byrne on Possible CFB Opener vs. TCU: 'Our Plan Is to Play USC'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2020

Alabama head coach Nick Saban yells to his team during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Western Carolina, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

On Tuesday, ESPN's Paul Finebaum appeared on First Take and reported that Alabama was in contact with TCU about a potential matchup with the Horned Frogs to start the season in the event USC was unable to play that game. 

But Alabama's athletic director, Greg Byrne, responded by saying the plan remains to face the Trojans:

Cecil Hurt @CecilHurt

Received a text from Alabama AD @Greg_Byrne a few minutes ago in response to asking about possibility of an Alabama-TCU opener. His response: “Our plan is to play USC.”

TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati made similar remarks:

Drew Davison @drewdavison

On the TCU-Alabama at AT&T Stadium speculation, AD Jeremiah Donati says: “We are preparing to play Cal in Week 1. If we determine at some point that we cannot do so, we’ll look at other options.”

Alabama might be focused on USC for the time being, but it's uncertain whether USC will be able to keep that meeting. Yesterday, for instance, head coach Clay Helton said the Pac-12 was discussing holding an 11-game, conference-only schedule for next season. 

Stewart Mandel @slmandel

USC coach Clay Helton said an 11-game conference-only schedule has been discussed in Pac-12 meetings. "That’s been one of the many structures of our discussion depending on where we are 6-8 weeks from now."

TCU is currently scheduled to open its season against California, meanwhile, meaning Alabama and TCU would perhaps be natural partners for a matchup if the Pac-12 chooses to eschew non-conference play. 

There's also California's own potential laws to consider. 

"It's difficult to imagine a stadium that's filled until we have immunity and until we have a vaccine," California Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday, per the Los Angeles Times. "There are conditions that persist in this state and this nation that make re-opening very, very challenging."

Granted, Newsom appeared to be talking about games that would be held in California in front of full stadiums packed with fans. USC vs. Alabama is scheduled for a neutral location, but Cal was set to host TCU. That game could be in jeopardy given Newsom's comments. 

"It's difficult for me to imagine what the...leagues do when one or two of their key personnel or players have tested positive," Newsom said regarding the potential re-opening of professional leagues. "Do they quarantine the rest of the team? If an offensive lineman is practice with a defensive lineman, and they have tested positive, what happens to the rest of the line?"

Expect those to be questions he poses to any college football programs in his state as well.