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July 17, 2008

Saban trying to muscle into Atlanta?

According to the Virginia Tech Athletic Department, Alabama and Virginia Tech are in discussions to open the 2009 football season in a "made for television game" at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The announcement presents VT as squarely on board with the arrangement with or without the Tide.

This is a deal that makes a ton of sense for Bama. The Tide is already set to play Clemson in '08 and Duke in '10 in the Dome. The three games at the Dome would make four neutral site games in four years for Bama as they also played FSU in Jacksonville last year.

Why the Neutral Site Emphasis (My theories):
  • Recovering from Instability -- During the late 90s, UA booked a series of exciting home and home match-ups with UCLA, Oklahoma, Penn State and I think Nebraska. During the coaching instability that followed the Dubose reign -- four coaches in four years -- Alabama postponed or cancel several of those marquee match-ups. From 2004-2006, Alabama didn't play a single BCS team in 10 non-conference games.

    Saban has said, he wants to ramp up the non-conference schedule. However, home and home series are complicated to book...especially with less than 4+ years notice. Booking a neutral site game can happen much quicker. I think some of the neutral site scheduling is Bama filling in the gaps until the PSU (2010/2011) and later the GT series (2013/2014) start.

    *Note: the Duke game is different. Bama did a 2 for 1 deal with Duke several years ago with the assumption that Duke would sell its home game to some venue. The Dome smartly entered the picture there and beat out Mobile, Charlotte and others.

  • Recruiting -- For all the jokes about Nick Saban not "having time for this sh*t." The fact remains that the guy can really recruit. To me, one puzzling thing about Alabama's recruiting prior to the Saban regime was the lack of heavy emphasis on the ultra fertile, easily accessible Atlanta market.

    When Bama ventured out of state, they seemed to prefer to get nastier and head to Memphis where cash payouts, strip clubs and cold sores are an integrated part of the recruiting landscape. Last year, Saban pulled two kids out of the Greater Atlanta area as well as a couple of Georgia Tech transfers. This year, three of his first eight commits are from the Atlanta area.

    The Dome visits can only help him open doors in Georgia's backyard.
Personally, I don't begrudge the Atlanta Sports Council's efforts to bring a season kickoff style big game to the city/Georgia Dome. These games are good for college football, and it's good for Atlanta.

However, I would like to see them spread the participants around a bit more. Let's get teams other than Alabama in there. If you're only playing one game every 3-5 years in town instead of three (or more) years in a row, it's tougher to raise your permanent exposure in the area.

Regardless, Bama's recruiting in Atlanta, and their use of the Georgia Dome is definitely something to keep an eye on for Georgia fans.

(Update: Not so fast my friend. Bama says they haven't inked anything yet. I'd still like to think it'll get done if at all possible. It just makes too much sense.)



JasonC said...

Georgia Dome = Legion Noveau?

Smitty said...

How about a neutral site game in Birmingham? haha

Anonymous said...

I wish Virginia Tech and Tennessee would renew their talks about playing a neutral site game at Bristol. Between the grandstands and seating people on the banks of the track, they'd probably have well over 150k packed into the stadium. That would be a sight to see.

Anonymous said...

Cheesy gimmicks

Anonymous said...

I guess that'd be better than watching NFL teams practice against the Falcons.

Anonymous said...

This is clearly a blatant attempt to raise Bama's profile in Georgia. We have the deepest talent pool of highschool players in the south ( outside of Florida.) Alabama highschool football has been down for years. Saban realizes in order to compete he must cross the border, like Fulmer did in the pre Richt days. I wouldn't be shocked to see another Bama game in JAX either.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:10,

UT should really look at doing neutral site games. They could benefit from the recruiting visibility in Atlanta, Jacksonville, Charlotte, New Orleans, or where ever.

They certainly don't have any instate talent.

Anonymous said...

Might wanna ease back on up off Saban's jock for a minute... none of those ATL recruits of his even held an offer from Georgia. Funny, I remember when Auburn was our main recruiting rival... when Donnan was here, it hurt us. What is their big claim to fame in the Richt era, Tra Blackmon? First of all, LaGrange, nuff said, that might as well be in Alabama to begin with. Then there's his off field issues, and well, simply put: 0-2.

The main thing Georgia fans need to keep their eye on at the moment is the out of control Clemson recruiting tactics, Napier is taking them back to the days of Danny Ford, minus the on field results. Clempscum has come out of nowhere to be our main recruiting rival these last 3 years, and if that makes any sense to you whatsoever, please do explain it to the rest of us. Because as I'm typing this I sit in Anderson SC, and trust me... there is NOTHING here. Clemson is on the other side of I-85, and it's even worse. So if it's not football tradition, it's not playing in a respected football conference, it's not academics, and it's not location... what could it possibly be??

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