Last month, Alabama lined up a home-and-home with Notre Dame for the 2028-29 seasons, a signal the Crimson Tide, under new AD Greg Byrne, are willing to move away from the neutral site opening games that the Crimson Tide themselves popularized under Nick Saban a decade ago.
The Tide took another long step in that direction on Wednesday, as Texas announced a home-and-home with Alabama in 2022-23.
The first game will take place Sept. 10, 2022 in Austin, and the second on Sept. 9, 2023 in Tuscaloosa.
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) May 16, 2018
The 2023 visit to Austin is an interesting timing for Alabama given that the Tide also visits Texas A&M that fall. Wins in Austin and College Station would allow Saban (or whoever’s coaching Alabama at that time) to set up a permanent recruiting headquarters inside the Texas border.
So UA goes to Austin and College Station in 2023. #twostep
— Travis Reier (@travisreier) May 16, 2018
Saban would be 70 years old and in his 16th season at Alabama during the 2022 season. Tom Herman would be 47 and in his sixth season at Texas.
Texas and Alabama have met eight times previously. Texas holds a 7-1-1 advantage, but Alabama memorably won the most recent meeting, a 37-21 triumph in the 2010 BCS National Championship, a game that kickstarted Alabama’s Saban dynasty and ended the Longhorns’ run of elite football under Mack Brown — a game the Texas program still has not fully recovered from.
Texas once (briefly) garnered criticism for light non-conference scheduling. It’s safe to say those days are over now. Herman’s Longhorns open this season at Maryland and face USC in Austin. To make room for the Alabama series, Texas adjusted a scheduled home-and-home with Ohio State from 2022-23 to 2025-26, marking the 20-year anniversary of a previous Longhorns-Buckeyes home-and-home that saw Texas win in Columbus in 2005 en route to a national title and Ohio State return the favor in Austin a year later as a springboard to a BCS title game appearance and a Heisman Trophy for quarterback Troy Smith.
Future schedules now include:
Texas's future non-conference schedules:
2020: at LSU
2021: at Arkansas
2023: at Alabama
2024: at Michigan
2025: Ohio State
2026: at Ohio State
— Zach Barnett (@zach_barnett) May 16, 2018
If there is a downside to Wednesday’s news, it’s that the resumption of the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry does not appear to be in the Longhorns’ plans anytime soon. That is, unless Texas is willing to play the following schedule:
– A national blueblood non-conference opponent
– A 9-game round-robin Big 12 schedule
– A Texas A&M rivalry game
– A possible Big 12 championship game
All of that would be prelude to the ‘Horns’ ultimate goal — the College Football Playoff.
Alabama basically helped invent modern version of the neutral site game, thumping Clemson 34-10 at the Georgia Dome to kickoff the 2008 season. Skipping only two seasons since then, Alabama is 8-0 in such games, winning by an average score of 36-14; not a single one of those eight games has been decided by less than 10 points.
Atlanta was the first city to stage such a game, but the practice has since spread to Dallas, Houston, Orlando, Charlotte, Jacksonville and Phoenix. Thanks in large part to Alabama, neutral site opening games proved to be late summer bowl games — pageantry-filled, made-for-TV celebrations of college football that were profitable for both the programs who played in them and the cities who hosted them. There was a downside, though, in that it took a major college football game out of its natural habitat, depriving its home city a chance to host a major opponent and its fans a chance to make a bucket list visit to one of the game’s landmark destinations.
The Tide opens the next four seasons with neutral site kickoffs, but has no such games lined up beyond a 2021 meeting with Miami in Atlanta.
And Wednesday’s news shows Alabama may not go back to a practice it popularized.