By Hunter Ford
Alabama is robbing its fans of a quality home game and endangering its chances at a BSC title by playing Virginia Tech in Atlanta.
Got that? Good.
I had to think of an antagonistic lead to catch your attention, and now I take it back.
Alabama may very well lose to Virginia Tech, but the game is very much in the Tides’ favor, win or lose. The Hokies have the most pressure on their shoulders. If they lay a big turkey egg in Atlanta their bridge to the BSC will be burned.
Alabama on the other hand will have perhaps as many as three more shots (Ole Miss, LSU and Florida in the SEC Title game) to defeat another top ten team.
Playing in Atlanta to open the season? Last year on the Finebaum show I heard some discussion about whether it was good for the fans for Alabama to play Clemson in Atlanta. Actually you could make a case that playing the best non conference game on your schedule at a neutral site is actually bad for ticket holders who might like a home and home matchup with the same team to enhance the value of their already costly ticket package.
My mom, bless her heart, asked me why Alabama was playing in Atlanta to start the season. “Is it some kind of exhibition game?” she asked. SIGH! My mom loves Alabama football but she is funcionally illiterate on the ins and outs of the game. When our quarterback takes a hard but legal hit, she will scream “That’s too hard, they should throw a penalty…They might have hurt him!”
But it was a good question…about the Atlanta game. I tried explaining that it was an arranged deal, Chick-fil-A sponored, and would pay each participating team more than many bowl games. Way over her head.
“Too bad they don’t play in Tuscaloosa,” she said.
These kinds of games could be seen as in-season bowl games. That’s a good way to look at it. The respective teams get to play a quality non-conference game without the burden of a home and home series and they get richer for it. Capitalistic footbal at its finest.
Now about this cloak and dagger fishing trip stuff, I think it will all blow over and eventually be a mole hill washed away. Auburn boosters wish it were a mountain, and they may very well have set up a “Trojan Horse” scheme. If that is indeed the case, and it could be proved, the offending Aubies should be hit with penalties. Espionage in football should not be tolerated any more than insider trading or bribing public officials. Any boosters of any school caught trying to bait other schools’ players into wrongdoing should be punished severely. Very harshly.
About the Oregon player LaGarrett Blount, I can’t disagree with the Ducks’ decision to suspend him for the season. It is appropriate. His actions after the first punch really ruined any chance for lenient punishment. But, the Boise State player should have known better. First he shouldn’t have classlessly taunted a losing opponent, and then he never should have turned his smug mug away from him. I shamefully admit I was laughing at the way Blount knocked that smirk right off his face. If you can’t say something nice to a vanquished opponent, take your zipped mouth to the locker room immediately.
Keep an eye on the Birmingham News and its Alabama beat writer Don Kausler Jr. Kausler was a beat writer 27 years ago. In Joey Jones’ book from 1983 “In Good Hands”, the former Alabama wide receiver and current South Alabama head coach said that Tide players were warned to stay away from Kausler, a perceived muckraker. Kausler graduated to sports editor of the Birmingham Post Herald and to other such management posts at other papers and is now, almost three decades later, back gum-shoeing around T-town as a geezer. What’s up? Stay tuned.
As I write this it is less than 22 hours away from Alabama kick-off time. ROLLLLLL TIDE!