ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd ripped Alabama and head coach Nick Saban yesterday over the quality of their 2013 football schedule.
Cowherd was initially defending Notre Dame and their decision to drop future football games against Michigan from their schedules. That decision prompted Michigan head coach Brady Hoke to say over the weekend that Notre Dame was “chickening out” of their rivalry with the Wolverines.
In reviewing Notre Dame’s schedule for 2013 and beyond, Cowherd stated that it was “perfect” and that “there are a lot worse schedules in college football.” He noted tough opponents such as Arizona State, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas, USC, and the five ACC games. He also added “they don’t have any Towson State’s in there.”
Then he took a look at Alabama’s 2013 schedule, and that’s when the fireworks began.
“Give me Alabama’s schedule next year. Go look at Alabama’s schedule right now. Oh, the great Alabama. Let me see that then. And this is the great SEC, right? It’s unbelievable. Let’s read it right now for you. 2013, alright, here we go, here’s their tough schedule, Alabama. OK, at Texas A&M early, tough as heck. Colorado State, Georgia State, at Kentucky, Tennessee’s a mess, Chattanooga Mocs, Auburn’s a mess…that’s a real toughie. They get LSU at home. They don’t have to play Georgia – they don’t have to play Georgia! Don’t have to play Florida, don’t have to play South Carolina. They’ve got three of the best teams in their division, er…conference and they’re not on their schedule, and they face something called the Chattanooga Mocs?”
“Six of those teams on that schedule are in the toilet. Their toughest game honestly is their second game of the year, Texas A&M. What do you know? They’ve got a bye before it, because Saban pretty much runs the conference. By the way they also face LSU, they get a bye before that. So they get a bye before each of their toughest games. Saban runs that conference. He does. He doesn’t have to play Florida again, he doesn’t have to play Georgia again, he doesn’t have to play South Carolina again. Saban is running that conference.”
“They should have…they could have lost three games last year. Any time Nick needs a bye it just magically appears on the schedule.”
It should be noted that Cowherd did neglect to mention Alabama’s 2013 season opener against Virginia Tech in Atlanta. They also host Ole Miss and Arkansas.
But it really isn’t that tough of a schedule, and as Cowherd mentioned, they get a bye before their two toughest games — at Texas A&M and vs. LSU. They also get a month to prep for Virginia Tech.
Alabama also drew a good schedule from the conference last season. The Tide didn’t face Florida, Georgia, or South Carolina in the regular-season. One of their toughest games, Texas A&M at home, resulted in their only loss of the season.
Looking at both of those schedules, it certainly does appear that Nick Saban “runs the conference” and gets byes at opportune times.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but this two-year stretch of scheduling luck came just after Saban publicly expressed concern about his 2010 schedule. That year, the Crimson Tide faced six opponents that were coming off a bye week.
But SEC schedules have always been cyclical. A couple of easy draws are usually followed by a few tough ones. And in Alabama’s case, their schedule strength has been dragged down recently by Auburn and Tennessee, two historically strong programs that are struggling to recover.
We’ll see what Alabama draws in 2014, as the conference schedule is rumored to be set for release by the end of the month.