During the Nick Saban era, Alabama has either played or scheduled Group of 5 or FCS programs from…
Mississippi (Southern Miss)
Georgia (Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Mercer)
Tennessee (Chattanooga, Middle Tennessee)
Louisiana (Louisiana-Monroe, Tulane)
Florida (Florida International, Florida Atlantic)
South Carolina (Charleston Southern)
North Carolina (Western Carolina)
Kentucky (Western Kentucky)
Texas (North Texas)
California (San Jose State, Fresno State)
Ohio (Kent State)
Colorado (Colorado State)
On Wednesday, the Tide announced a 2018 game with Arkansas State for $1.7 million, believed to be the largest single-game payout in college football history.
Draw a map of the Tide’s recent buy games and you’d hit almost every state in the South, except their own. Alabama has managed to encircle its home state while completely ignoring the three Group of Five and three FCS programs within its borders.
Arkansas State AD Terry Mohajir’s work in building a well-paying schedule (the Red Wolves will net $1.65 million for a 2017 trip to Nebraska) looks all the more impressive when consider he gets by without getting any help at home, either. Arkansas has never faced Arkansas State, all while lining up UTEP, Nicholls State, Samford, Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State over the past four seasons.
(As an aside, the market for guarantee games has ascended more rapidly than San Francisco real estate prices. Just two years ago Big Ten teams shelled out an average of $600,000 per guarantee games and Florida Atlantic took home $2 million combined for road trips to Nebraska and Alabama. Arkansas State has secured a 67 percent raise from those same two schools in just four years’ time.)
It’d be one thing if Alabama exclusively shipped in opponents from the Mountain West and MAC. But instead the Tide and Hogs ignore their neighbors while funding their neighbors’ opponents; they don’t just ignore them, they actively (albeit indirectly) work against them.
This isn’t a new discussion. In fact, we made the same argument in 2013. Tide and Razorbacks fans responded with arguments ranging from petty (“It’s not our job to help them!”) to pathetic (“A loss would be too humiliating to risk it.”). And, no, it’s not Alabama’s job to help UAB, Troy, South Alabama, Samford, Jacksonville State, Alabama State or Alabama A&M, but as the flagship program in the state’s most beloved sport — the most important institution in the state of Alabama, period — it’d be nice to see the Crimson Tide carry the banner for football in the entire state of Alabama.