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Why won't Alabama help out its in-state programs?

If you were born during or before 1944, you have lived to see the end of World War II, the Vietnam, Korean and Cold Wars, the hippie movement, the dot com boom and the last time Alabama played a non-conference game inside its own state borders. 

It's hard to say how many of the 4,500 or so in attendance were aware at the time, but that October 7, 1944, 63-7 Alabama win over Howard College (today known as Samford) at Birmingham's Legion Field to this day stands as the last time Alabama has found an in-state non-conference opponent worthy of sharing the field with. It hasn't happened in the 812 games since and, with dreadful Georgia State coming to Bryant-Denny Stadium for the second time in four seasons, columnist Kevin Scarbinsky wonders just how low the Tide will go to avoid programs like Troy, South Alabama and UAB and keep the infamous streak alive.

If recent history is any indicator, Alabama is pretty good at avoiding its in-state colleagues. So good, in fact, you have to ask if they even know those programs actually exist. The Tide has never played UAB. They've never played Troy. They've never played South Alabama. They've never played FCS neighbors Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Jacksonville State or Samford, either. None of those programs are on any of Alabama's future non-conference schedules through 2016 (according to despite having three unfilled dates for 2014 and 2015.

Auburn has been better, but not by much. The Tigers played Alabama A&M for the first time ever last year. They hosted Samford in 2011 and will again in 2014, and Jacksonville State slated for 2015. As for Troy, South Alabama and UAB? Like Alabama, Auburn has never played them played UAB once in 1996 and never played Troy or South Alabama, and nothing on the horizon says that will change in the near future. 

Besides Arkansas, it's incredibly hard to name another flagship program joining Alabama and Auburn in their steadfast addiction to shunning. Michigan and Michigan State have each played Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan as recently as 2011. Ohio State faced Miami (Ohio) in 2012 and hosts Kent State in 2014. Texas opens next season with North Texas. LSU has played Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, Northwestern State and Tulane within the past seven years.

To be clear, the issue isn't Alabama's habit of bottom-feeding. It's a necessary evil among big-time programs, and there are scores of programs happy to come to Tuscaloosa to be an eight-touchdown underdog. The Tide are free to diet on whatever they choose in between SEC games. But how about mixing in some locally-grown food every now and then?