By Hunter Ford

Are in-season neutral site games beneficial for college football fans?  Or does it deprive season ticket holders of marquee matchups at their home stadium?  Here’s a link to an article criticizing LSU for scheduling a bunch of cupcakes for the upcoming season at newly renovated Tiger Stadium.

Tiger Stadium now seats over 100,000 corndogs with room for a few guests.  However, attendance figures are declining with LSU playing its best non-conference games in places like Dallas, Houston and Atlanta.

I would love to pile on LSU along with the author of this piece, but Alabama has basically done the same thing.  Since losing to Florida State in Jacksonville in 2007, The Crimson Tide has done well in neutral site games.  Alabama has defeated Clemson, Virginia Tech twice, and Michigan either in Atlanta or Dallas.  Besides winning, what good has come of it? It is really absurd to say it helps recruiting.  The Alabama Crimson Tide, or the LSU Tigers for that matter, needs no introduction to high school football players.  The name recognition has long been established.  Just showing up in Atlanta, or Dallas, or wherever, will not elevate it.

The Tide is now set to face West Virginia in Atlanta, Wisconsin in Dallas in 2015, and USC in Dallas in 2016.

Are neutral site games a treat for fans?  Atlanta is familiar and kind of ho-hum for most Tide fans.  Been there, done that.  Dallas is more exotic perhaps, but really, who can afford the trip these days?  It’s hard enough to afford season tickets.  If you do cough up the money for season tickets do you want to see Western Carolina?

A two-game series with USC, with a date at Bryant-Denny and a visit (if you can afford it) to Los Angeles would be a lot better investment for season ticket holders than a one-off visit to Atlanta or Dallas.  There are some traditional neutral site games like Oklahoma-Texas and Florida-Georgia, but those games work because they are TRADITIONAL and located conveniently for the respective fan bases.

Alabama and LSU should give season ticket holders some marquee match-ups at the football Disney Worlds they have created.   That’s why these pigskin Taj Mahals were built, right?  Why should we go to somebody else’s park to get our football thrills?

68 thoughts on “Do Alabama fans benefit from neutral site games?”

  1. love the neutral sites…does help in crooting…relationships with hs coaches …all it takes is 1 ashawn robinson to make it worth it

  2. like to see more variety – the dc game needs to come back…bama in the dc game would be great …chicago nyc charlotte should start a game

  3. I have to disagree ….the average ticket holder is getting screwed…HARD !!!!! GAINST THE WALL.!!! I have done some research on this….

    If this post doesn’t grow legs I will leave it alone.

    But I am speaking as a consumer of college football…not just an Alabama fan.

    These new Neutral site games are no good for the fans. They are BAD for ticket holders. Having season tickets is an investment. You can sell those if you can’t go to the game. If I had a So Cal Ticket or a Western Carolina Tic… GEt it?

  4. And all this talk about plays getting paid? The money comes out of MY POCKET IF I AM FSN ND PAY FOR A TICKET OR BUT A TSHIRT OR SUBSCRIBE TO SEC NETWORK OR WHATVER I AM THE CONSUMER

  5. It is a bit odd to see that Alabama has only played two BCS OOC teams at home the last 10 years: and one of those was Duke. The fans deserve more than that. Alabama had home-and-home games with UCLA and Oklahoma early this century. Need to get back to that.

    1. @peachy

      That’s a little misleading.

      For example, Alabama’s other at-home OOC BCS team in the last ten years was Penn State under Joe Paterno. The

      To your point, Auburn has played more OOC BCS teams at home in the last ten years.

      They have played those teams at home and ONLY at home. Teams like the mighty Washington State Cougars and the 5-7 Kansas State, plus West Virginia before their conference change. Fascinating.

      The irony of your comment is the off-site games Alabama has won in the last ten years would be even more lopsided and scrutinized if they had only played them at home like Auburn has done (that is, if Auburn played OOC BCS teams like Michigan, Penn State, VT, etc.)

      Auburn is going TO Kansas State this year (the first BCS OOC game at the opponent’s home in at least ten years), which would be great if they weren’t complaining so much about it now. Nobody complained when Penn State and Alabama played home-and-away. It was great. Penn State had a white-out for Alabama.

      1. You really dont do any research before posting do you? This year is Auburns 3rd OOC road game in the last 7 years. Auburn played @Clemson in 2011. Played @West Virginia in 2008.

        And since 2001 they’ve also played @USC, @Georgia Tech and @Syracuse.

        Meanwhile Alabama’s only played 5 road OOC games against BCS teams since 1990.
        @NC State 1996
        @UCLA 2000
        @Oklahoma 2002
        @Duke 2010
        @Penn St 2011

        5! Since 1990!

        1. Peachy I make you do it for me THANKS of course I will double check cause I don’t trust you

          1. Never been wrong on here.

            And here’s a site that will help you (im feeling generous). It is literally the best site to use for any college football stats you could ever want. Takes a minute to figure out because there are a lot of options.


            Click on “Team record”.

            You can then find any stat you could want. You can narrow it down to all time v/s #1 ranked teams or all time v/s #8 ranked teams: Time of Game rankings or End Of Year rankings. You can find records of your team when they score a certain amount of points (like Auburn is 305-5 when scoring at least 30 points).

            And you can use it to find records v/s other conferences; home, away or neutral site.

          2. @peachy


            That is some of the most epic deflection I’ve seen from you yet.

            No, I didn’t do more research. You got upset about the last ten years so I didn’t go back farther than that, but it looks like you kinda made my case for me after the fact; Alabama played some great games at other OOC campuses. You were inaccurate though when you said only 5 OOC road games, so don’t get so upset with me when I can’t remember Auburn played at West Virginia.

            “What are your crimes?”

          3. Since 1990 Alabama has played only those 5 true road games against BCS teams at their home field.. That’s a fact. If you can find more then post them.

          4. That IS a fact. I didn’t say it wasn’t. You said away games. Now we’re arguing semantics. Again. Stop. Please.

            I’d rather play huge teams anywhere than not play them at our house or theirs, period. Stop being so upset with everything Alabama does. I’ve been looking forward to WV in ATL since I was in ATL for VT. It benefits me. Have fun at Kansas State.

            Oh, wait.

          5. So now that you’ve been proven wrong several times you change the subject.

            @Kansas St isnt Auburns first road game in 10 years.

            Alabama has only played 5 OOC road games since 1990.

            Those are facts.

          6. Facts are fun!

            You’re the one that changed the subject (hence, deflect). Hell, even when you were on the subject you changed the timeline you set up yourself in the first place.

            Don’t get so upset. It’s just Big Brother.

  6. In perfect agreement. Wish we would get back to the home and homes. I’m not all that excited about another trip to the ATL, The only advantage is it’s close, but I’d rather take a trip to T-town or an away game somewhere interesting. Are we supposed to play Notre Dame in Ireland at some point?

  7. We need some more research on this.

    For example, the Penn State home-and-away matchup was great, then everyone said Penn state was bad….after Alabama beat them.

    Nobody will ever be happy with who Alabama beats OOC For example, when Alabama beat the winningest team in college footall history the excuses included, “it was off-site in Alabama territory” or “they were bad that year” despite having a Heisman candidate at the time, etc.

    But why aren’t there more home-and-away setups anyway? I know we were trying to get Michigan State for years and it looked good, then it fell through on their end, like I know we were trying to get Wisconsin and that fell through to get the Michigan game…off-site.

    The problem is it’s certainly not just Alabama——-Oregon and Oklahoma are scheduling SEC teams like Tennessee and…Tennessee…but the home-and-away thing, why is it so rare or so hard to get schools to agree to?

    For example, with all the talk about the billions of dollars in college football, is it really that hard anymore to get teams the money they need to travel?

    Alabama schedules tough OOC opponents, but college football has TOTAL attrition after 5 years, most of it in 3 years or less. Who knows what Oregon and tOSU will look like in 2020 when they play after setting up that home-and-away meeting two years ago?

    I have been throwing around the idea of actually changing the season schedule based on performance the year before. You can’t control if your conference schedule sucks, but you don’t know who is going to be good from year to year, and it’s exaccerbated when you try to schedule OOC games so many years in advance, so take it away.

    That’s the idea—-take the choice away, leave a date open every season for the NCAA (or whoever) to put the top 40 teams at the end of every season into a hat and make them play each other the next season. We can afford it. There’s so much money in the sport now, every team that ends up in the top 40 can afford it.

    Sure, it doesn’t make it perfect for season ticket holders, but nothing does. Yes, off-site games do help recruiting. I understand Alabama not needing an introduction, but Alabama takes every opportunity they can get, and a trip to Dallas with local recruits and a prime-time network broadcast at a big-time stadium isn’t irrelevant, plus it can be a perk for the players themselves.

    Atlanta, for example, is getting a new billion-dollar stadium like Dallas has. I can’t pretend I don’t want to see Alabama there.

    I’m going to the West Virginia game in Atlanta. I never miss the season opener. I don’t have season tickets anymore (although I share a package with my family) and I don’t have a problem seeing the games, and we don’t seem to have any problem selling the tickets. Auburn has season tickets left despite their last game literally being national title game. We don’t have that problem. We do sell the seats in Dallas, but I don’t know why it has been so tricky to get teams to play us home-and-away.

    I will say this though (and excuse me for going a little off-topic), but all last week I heard from coaches across the other half of the country complaining about the SEC and lauding their conferences and how they “play everybody.” Bob Stoops made a point that he scheduled a SEC team this year (Tennessee). I’m afraid only most of the elite teams are the ones that will (and are) get their feet wet with big OOC games in the playoff era UNTIL it’s proven necessary. “It’s hard enough in the ______ conference” is what I heard from all these coaches. All of them. It was honestly kinda weird, but it leads me to believe they aren’t going to (and haven’t been) take risks scheduling the teams they’re complaining about the most. I don’t think anyone is going to make home-and-away OOC games happen frequently unless they are forced to by a group like the NCAA, but even then people will complain. One of the conferences is getting left out of the playoffs, possibly more than one. It’s going to be a shltstorm, and the answer is to schedule the OOC teams that are traditionally at the top and it seems harder to do for the SEC than anyone else when it comes to anyone outside of the ACC.

    1. This is what I’m talking about. Some discussion about what the fans want….THANK YOU

    2. I will agree with you on the idea of the top 40 teams. That is a pretty good idea. To do that, it needs to be 2 years each home and home, with the highest ranked team getting the option when to play their game at home. One of the few times I agree with you.

      1. Or a coin flip to determine who gets home-field advantage.

        The point is the team rankings change every year, and often in great variances, but it’s exacerbated by each year. One year Auburn sucks, the next year they win a national title, the next two years they suck, the next year they go to the national title, who knows what they’ll be like in 2-12 years, but it’s just a good example.

        I don’t get the argument that they need to be home-and-home—-if nothing else it adds confusion. For example, which years do you pick the teams, and what happens to the teams in the top 40 the other year? Auburn wasn’t in the top 40 one year, then they were in the national title game. I think year-to-year is possible and more determinate than other solutions, that’s all I mean.

        Until something like this takes place, FBS and D2 schools are going to be on the schedules and bad teams are going to remain in good conferences.

        1. Simple on how to do it. Say the first year is 2014, take the top 40 from last years final poll. Draw out 2 teams, and they play each other. Take the highest ranked team, and the first year, the game is at home, and switch the other year. Do that for all 40 teams.Do 41-80, and then the rest of FBS the same way. Every 2 years you can move up or down based on the 2 years average poll results. Most teams don’t want to give up a minimum number of games at home. If either team wanted to play their home game at a neutral site, that would be up to them. But it can’t be done for more money, which would only wind up having teams bid the game to the highest bidder, and thus leaving the average fan at home, which is what Hunter complained about in the article, and he is right about that.

  8. Just as an aside, I like going to other stadiums.

    Make no mistake, I love going to Alabama games in Tuscaloosa.

    But I get to do that every year plenty.

    I also make a point to go to away games. Lately I’ve even been going to at least one Clemson game a year. I like visiting other campuses and their stadiums and learning their culture.

    I’ve been to Florida, Tennessee, tOSU, Ole Miss, Georgia, Michigan, Stanford, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, TAMU, and for the most part everywhere but LSU and Auburn have been perfectly hospitable. I’ve been to New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas and even the Rose Bowl for off-site games. It’s been great.

  9. do not be deceived – kick off classic games are by invitation only…barn and the rest do regular home and home games with ooc teams because they are not invited for anything else

    1. Auburn doesn’t do home-and-away games. Just sayin’. They’ve all been at home. This year they’re going to K-State though and we haven’t heard the end of it. Last time K-State came to Auburn was I think 2007. Nobody complained.

      1. USC in 2002, Georgia Tech in 2005, West Virginia in 2008,and Clemson in 2011, plus a neutral site game with them in Atlanta in 2012. Those were all away games for Auburn.. Both teams could do better with the home and home games. By the way, Alabama cancelled the Michigan State series, and not the other way around, or in the original article announcing the USC game in 2016, that was stated in the article.
        As to the premise of the article, none of our teams care about the fans. It is all about the dollar, and that is a shame. If it wasn’t for us, nobody would pay those prices they are getting.

          1. Exactly.

            Look. We’re getting the playoff because of the fans. It’s the first time they were listened to and the coaches know it won’t be the last.

            I only wish we knew more about why the deals take so long and stretch so far into the future, or why they fall through after years of planning, in particular when a matchup like Alabama/USC comes out of nowhere with a 2-year deadline.

            Otherwise everyone OOC schedules Tennessee 2 years out when they’re down for 7 years and says “we beat the SEC so don’t complain about our OOC schedule.”

            That’s one of the ways we know the SEC is the best—–nobody lauds Alabama for scheduling a Big12 team, even when that team was in the title hunt at the time, or a Big10 team and the winningest team in college football history.

            So yes, Alabama fans benefit from neutral site games. Maybe every season ticket holder can’t get to every off-site game, but I’m sure some can and some of them don’t go to every home game, either. If we can’t get teams to agree to home-and-away, then yes, we benefit from getting those big games if the only way we can get them is off-site.

            Again, nobody is doing it completely right. Many are trying, Clemson is probably coming the closest over the past ten years, but until the rules force it we will have disparity, which people will always complain about. Make OOC teams play each other, make FBS teams unavailable for scheduling, and don’t lose to TCU if you want to get to the national title game before you complain about Alabama playing teams like Michigan, USC, Clemson and Penn State no matter where they play.

            Hunter, you live close enough to go to every home game. There are plenty of Alabama fans like me who don’t. I wish I did, if not just for that part of the year. Be grateful for what you have and enjoy it while you can. I’ll continue to go to the off-site games and bowl games and conference title games and a home game or two every season, and I can’t complain about that either. I love Dallas and Atlanta, just sayin’.

      2. Auburn’s schedule is so brutal every year finishing with Ugag and bama. I would be in favor of playing the OOC “BCS” school at home every year. I am curious why Wash. St. agreed to come in 06 and 13.

        1. Nope:

          I haven’t been to a college football game without a press pass for a long time. I have been to Kansas and College Park, Maryland, Memphis is great…Nashville is great…ATL ok… I even like Jordan Hare and Rocky Top and Tiger Stadium I understand the allure of visiting other campuses, stadiums and football cultures.

          My main point of criticism with the neutral site games is that it deprives season ticket holders of a marquee game at home. And when tickets are truly a financial investment, ticketholders get rooked by a schedule that includes (potentially) only one top-flight home game (either LSU or Auburn in Alabama’s case)

          I don’t have season tickets but I have friends and family who do. Home and Home vs the likes of USC or say Oregon would give ticketholders value, and the option of scheduling a cool trip to a place like Los Angeles or something. Thanks for the thoughtful discussion….RTR!

          1. I see what you mean, definitely.

            You know, I think eventually someone is simply going to have to do something to strictly limit the DII or FBS teams that can be scheduled or otherwise force OOC games to be more regular. It would be one thing to have an off-site marquee matchup every year, but it would be (IMO) ideal to have that matchup plus a home-and-away matchup also.

            For example, if we ever really can get to a “power 5” format or something close to it, there will be more marquee OOC games. There will also be more losses, which is the main argument against SELECTIVELY scheduling OOC games when there isn’t any real requirement standard, but if everyone has to play those games then the playing field is leveled more evenly.

            Like, it’s not that I don’t mind seeing USC in Dallas, it’s that I do mind seeing Western North Carolina at Bryant-Denny; replace that game with an OOC opponent and everybody wins…so long as EVERYBODY participates…

            Good stuff, Mr. Ford.

      3. @USC, @Syracuse, @Georgia Tech, @Clemson, @West Virginia and @Kansas St since 2001.

        Alabama has only 5 of those types of games since 1990.

        1. But Alabama has played bigger teams more often when you add off-site in this new time frame you’re talking about. I’d say that’s more important. Yes, playing the winningest team in football off-site to start a season is better than getting Washington State at home or going to Syracuse. I thought that Kansas State game before was at Auburn. Sorry. SORRY. I really don’t care enough to get upset about it, that’s all.

    2. Auburn was invited in 2012(Clem) and will play next year in ATL vs. Petrino’s UL. Auburn turned down a game vs. UCLA in ATL in 2009 to my and others disapointment. bammer Scarbinsky ripped us.

      I am though a fan of playing all games in the lovliest village.

      1. The game against UCLA was turned down because they wanted to play us once at a neutral site, and the other time,to play at UCLA. Jay Jacobs told them to stick it, and he was right in doing so. Kevin left that fact out.

    1. If that had been USC, then it would be different. But we are talking about UCLA. They have 200 less wins all time than us, and we play in a much tougher conference. We should have been the one to make that stipulation, not them.

        1. Auburn already played USC: @USC too. And didn’t Alabama play a home-and-home with Duke?

          1. I think so. That was the year we won the Heisman and the national championship if I remember right.

  10. I do agree with Hunter that these games are not good for the fans. I’m glad AU limits neutral site games.
    Word is we are playing Clemspun in 16 and 17 home/away. Good game for travel but does not excite me. Jay Jacobs needs alittle more imagination and Bill Battle needs a little less.

    Also, this is the first time I have ever heard of UCLA wanting areturn game. I’m not saying untrue but at the minimium, a first time requirement on a neutral site game. Defeats the purpose. Possible Auburn urban legend.

    1. Imagination?

      Frankly Clemson and Auburn should probably play every year. Clemson’s football program essentially comes from Auburn. I’m still confused how so many people from both teams are unaware of how important Auburn was to Clemson.

    2. Found an article talking about the game. It was in 2010, and Jacobs said no, because we already had Clemson scheduled, and we didnt want to cancel an existing contract. We asked to play them in 2012, and they said no. When called on a statement, I checked it out, and corrected what I had written, when it was proved I was wrong.Neither team backed out of a game, they just couldn’t agree on the terms.

      1. This is the part that bugs, and I’m not calling anybody out here whatsoever, but why is it so tricky to get teams to agree on the terms?

        Like, I know we’re all used to these deals taking as long as a decade to come to fruition, but why? How can two teams like Alabama and USC set up a game in seemingly no time for two seasons into the future?

        If that’s possible, doesn’t it seem like a game can be scheduled like that between ANY two teams in as little as one year or perhaps even less?

        Hell, we’re all excited for ONE OOC game on a schedule years from now, but it’s not that crazy to think eventually we might have more than one marquee OOC game a season on any given schedule, and it might one day be a requirement.

  11. lol barn went 0-2 vs usc and blowed out at home by usc in 03 pretty much proof usc would have owned them in 04…..

  12. Proof like when bammer owned AU in ’12 then hammered Auburn again in ’13. I know, I know it was the refs in ’13.

    1. No doubt in my mind and person’s minds who know football, AU was better in ’04. I bet you Saban would say Auburn was better that year.

      I’m now focused on ’14 and beating Arkansas.


    1. If you take out the Bryant years(which you can not), our record against Bama is 31-23. 18-14 since he left, and it was 13-9 before he got there. Not too shabby against one of the top 3 programs of all time by any standard.

      1. @Elite Tiger That’s the most little brother thing I think I’ve heard all summer.

        Hey, if you take out the Saban years, Arkansas starts to look pretty good, too!

        And if you take out the Joe Paterno years from Penn State, all of a sudden they’re terrible! They’d have zero national championships; talk about shabby!

        1. Those are facts. I said you can’t take out the Bryant years, but in the last 40 years, UAT is 22-18 against Auburn. If big brother was as good as y’all think, it wouldn’t be that close. The only time Bama has owned Auburn is in the Bryant years.

          1. “If big brother was as good as y’all think, it wouldn’t be that close.”

            Why? Because Auburn is that bad?

            Maybe you’re onto something there…

            Why bother taking out the Bear years in the first place? It’s just weird to think about, that’s all. You say you can’t, but that’s what you did. If the argument is Auburn isn’t one of the worst teams in football history, I’m with you there, or if it’s that Alabama hasn’t also always been one of the best, I’ll definitely give you that too, but taking the longest-tenured coach out of any school (not to mention one of the longest-tenured coaches of all time) sortof defeats any purpose of comparison. It’s hard to relate—-Bear, like him or not, was more important for a longer time than nearly any university can ever really relate to. Alabama’s had more consistency (good and bad) so let’s just leave it at that and not take the Bear out of football for any argument’s sake.


    1. LSU and Georgia beat us in 2003, and we beat them in 2004. No reason not to think the same thing couldn’t have happened with USC. If that were the case, we have to hand FSU the title this year. They lost to nobody last year, but that has no bearing on this year. Using your logic, Florida would have beat Bama in 2009, but prior results mean nothing. Otherwise, we could not have went from3-9 to 12-2 last year. One thing is for sure, we would have given USC a better game than Oklahoma that year. We should have beat them at USC in 2002.

      1. @Elite Tiger

        Then give the 2009 national title Alabama “claims” to Boise State.

        And don’t leave Kansas State out of the 2012 title.

        And we can’t let Alabama have that 2011 title Alabama “claims” that resulted in the playoff so we can squelch some of these assumptions in the future. It’s probably safe to assume TCU was better than Alabama, right?


        Auburn didn’t play in the national title game in 2004. Sorry. It’s that simple. It would be different if we were talking about seasons without a national title game, for example, and don’t get me started about being on probation with the punishment being that you CAN’T compete in the national title game—–Auburn claims one of those, tOSU doesn’t when they went undefeated a two seasons ago. I’m not convinced they couldn’t have beaten Notre Dame, but they don’t tell everyone they were the best team in the country and won the national championship.

        1. Going to take a page out of your book. Way to deflect from what my reply was nope, or should I say Conduit. My response to the post that we would not have had a chance against USC, was a flawed post by the person who wrote it. Then, I explained why it was flawed. Could USC have beat us? Yes. Was that guaranteed? Absolutely not. Keeping the response focused on the reply, and not bringing up things that have nothing to do with that post. Now I could address those other points, but have better things to do than that.

  15. Hi Hunter,

    I loved the article on neutral sites. Some really great points.

    Actually, I just put together an infographic yesterday looking at Saban’s versus Bear Bryant defensively.

    As somebody that writes about Alabama football quite a bit I thought you may get a kick out of it.

    Let me know if you want to check it out.



  16. Hello, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, fantastic blog!

Comments are closed.