As the old adage goes, “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Well, consider this an open letter to Bill Battle. In light of the announcement this weekend that the football team will be foregoing a planned series with Michigan State in 2016 and 2017, I’ve decided it’s time to speak up.
The apparent reason for this decision is that the SEC might expand the current eight-game conference schedule to a nine-game format, meaning that we would only have three out-of-conference slots available on our schedule. This logic indicates that our program is at least “uncomfortable” with the idea of playing more than a handful of worthy opponents in a single season. Of course, we can’t always predict how formidable some of our SEC foes might be in a few years. So how do we respond to this uncertainty? Well, naturally, we sugar-coat the remainder of our schedule, just in case.
On Saturday, the Georgia State Panthers will earn a hefty $700,000 for the likely shellacking we’ll be giving them. But this pales in comparison to the $1.5 million that we forked over to Colorado State earlier this year. Why has this ever been considered to be respectable football? We’re literally paying for three wins each season. All those crystal footballs start to look a little less impressive when you realize how much we pay every year to tweak the odds in our favor.
Last season saw top programs like Oklahoma State come under fire for paying to play pitiful FCS opponents, like Savannah State. That criticism is only going to continue in the years to come, and the idea that “if everyone else is doing it, then we might as well too” really shouldn’t fly here. This is Alabama, dad-gum-it! We’re better than that! We’re champions, remember?
I’ve been an Alabama fan since I was a child, and football played no small role in getting me on this campus. It’s a tradition in excellence, and I like being a part of that. At some point, we have to decide if we’re really okay with these devious scheduling antics. It’s only a matter of time before it’s no longer acceptable to schedule such clearly inferior opponents. Why shouldn’t we be on the front end of that change?
Garrett Teal is a senior majoring in economics.