3 takeaways from Alabama adding a home-and-home series with Ohio State
Two words came to mind when I saw that Alabama and Ohio State were scheduling a home-and-home.
In case you missed some of the best scheduling news we’ve had in recent memory, the 2 powerhouses are scheduled to meet in 2027 and 2028. No, it’s not some neutral-site game in Dallas. The 2027 game will be in Columbus and the 2028 game will be in Tuscaloosa.
You know. The way it should be.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d pay big money to watch these teams play in a cornfield in Iowa, but the fact that this home-and-home is finally happening is worth getting excited about.
That wasn’t my only takeaway from seeing this getting set up:
1. The expanded Playoff is absolutely happening
Why do I say that? Alabama continues to load up on the future home-and-home series in ways that it didn’t during the era of the 4-team Playoff. The current format runs through the 2025 season. In other words, get ready for an 8-team field come 2026.
I’ve written about this, but in case you haven’t seen, Alabama and other SEC contenders are scheduling to beef up that nonconference schedule because if the field does expand to 8, there’s more room for error. In other words, teams can take bigger risks.
Check out Alabama’s future nonconference schedule vs. Power 5 teams beginning in 2022 when it moves past the neutral-site games:
- 2022: at Texas
- 2023: vs. Texas
- 2024: at Wisconsin
- 2025: at Florida State, vs. Wisconsin
- 2026: at West Virginia, vs. Florida State
- 2027: vs. West Virginia, at Ohio State
- 2028: at Notre Dame, vs. Ohio State
- 2029: vs. Notre Dame
The new norm is a team like Alabama adding not 1, but 2 Power 5 nonconference games per year. It’s a beautiful thing.
This is more evidence that teams are getting out ahead of this before the field inevitably expands and at-large bids are up for grabs.
2. Is it too early to say Alabama has the toughest schedule in America in 2028?
I mean, goodness. It’s one thing to play in the toughest division in America. It’s another to have that, and also have nonconference games at Notre Dame and vs. Ohio State. The “Bama ain’t played nobody” crowd is really going to hate the late 2020s.
And you know what? It’s long overdue. As great as Alabama is, yeah, there’s something messed up about the Crimson Tide not playing north of the Mason-Dixon Line since 2011. Nobody is doubting whether Alabama could win a game up north, but why shouldn’t all programs have to get outside their regions to play games when that’s the norm in every other sport?
Alabama will undoubtedly have a loaded schedule. Actually, though, the Crimson Tide might not even have the toughest schedule in the SEC in 2028. Florida will host Colorado and it’ll travel to Arizona State and Florida State that year, while Georgia will travel to Texas and then host the likes of Florida State and Georgia Tech. Yowza.
I know this time without sports has been awful, but if we could just hold on until September 2028, these home-and-home showdowns will make it worth it.
3. Man, I really hope Nick Saban sticks around for this … but who’s the best bet to be on the Alabama sidelines in 2027?
Ah, let’s play this game. After all, it’s been a few months since Chris Low gave us one of those classic ESPN stories quoting Saban saying “I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon” (it’s worth noting that Chris is phenomenal at his job). Of course Alabama would love it if Saban coached another decade. He’ll be 75 for the 2027 game, and he’ll be 76 for the 2028 game. In other words, he’ll be nearing Bill Snyder territory if he’s still coaching.
If betting odds came out today — don’t be surprised if that happens — I’d bet that Saban would be something like -200 to be Alabama’s coach in 2027.
But after that? Jeremy Pruitt was my first thought, and obviously Dabo Swinney will be considered a candidate until that job is filled, though I tend to think the timing of that will never make sense.
Someone who could make a lot of sense is Mario Cristobal. He coached under Saban and is in the midst of getting Oregon back to a consistent power, which would be a fantastic fit down the road. Cristobal might not have any real reason to leave Eugene until an opportunity like Alabama would come along.
Who knows what Alabama will look like in 2027, though. For all we know, Lane Kiffin will be Saban’s successor. If that were to somehow happen, I’d at least know 1 thing.
The internet will be a fun place come 2027.