When it comes to scheduling football games in Tuscaloosa, we all assume Nick Saban and Alabama AD Greg Bryne are calling the shots regarding the teams Alabama meets on the gridiron. However, according to one radio host, we would all be wrong in that assumption.

If you missed the news, Alabama recently announced a new home-and-home series with Wisconsin. This is the latest in Alabama’s decision to move away from neutral site games to schedule more home-and-home series. In the coming years, the Tide have home-and-homes with Texas, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, West Virginia and a two-for-1 with USF.

The first game of this new series against the Badgers will take place in Madison, Wis., on Sept. 14, 2024, with Wisconsin returning the trip to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 13, 2025.

The announcement of this series came a week after FOX Sports radio host Colin Cowherd called out Alabama for the program’s weak 2019 nonconference slate.

“Look at Alabama’s schedule. The four games Alabama could control, because the SEC hands out the schedule but they can control four games, they scheduled Duke, New Mexico State, Southern Miss and Western Carolina,” Cowherd said on his radio show. “I wouldn’t walk across the street to watch those games – and Nick Saban controls that. Nick Saban doesn’t control the other eight, he controls those four, and Saban complains ‘the students aren’t coming out.’ Yeah, because they have a life! They have options there’s a bunch of stuff on TV or on their phones.”

Without mentioning Cowherd’s name, Saban appeared to respond directly to those comments during his recent trip up to ESPN for his recent carwash appearance.

“So we’ve tried to schedule two opponents — Power Five opponents — every year. We have one time in the next 10 years, we’ve succeeded at doing that.
So unless we change the culture of how we all agree to schedule (Saban is calling for Power 5 teams to only schedule other Power 5 schools and for the SEC to move to a nine-game SEC schedule), I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Saban said during an appearance on ESPN’s Golic & Wingo while on a trip to Connecticut to visit the sports network.

“The reasons that we played all these neutral site games, it’s the only way we could get a quality opponent. And if you are in a conference, where your natural rivalry is out of your conference, like Georgia plays Georgia Tech every year, so they got to get one more game and they’ve got 10 Power 5 schools. Our two natural rivalries are in our league — so we don’t have one of those. So we have to get two teams to play us every year. And we’ve done a pretty good job of that, for the most part.

“People look at this year schedule and say, ‘Why are they not playing more of out of conference schools that are really highly ranked?’ Well, we tried, is all I can tell you, we try and we try every year.”

Just days after making those comments, Alabama officially announced the series with Wisconsin. Crimson Tide fans thanking Saban and Bryne for scheduling the series against the Badgers may be misplaced, however, as Cowherd claims he deserves the credit for the series.

“You know how in our business joy people always say they don’t listen — but they always hear? Okay. They push back on social media,” Cowherd said on his Wednesday show. “Everybody says, ‘I never hear the noise.’ Listen, if there was a guy on radio and TV blasting you all day, would you not hear about it, if not directly from friends?

“So Nick Saban, ‘I don’t listen to the critics!’ Really? So a week ago I put Alabama — I said the reason you’re struggling to sell out your games, even though you’re winning all your football games, is this garbage home schedule you give to your fans in garbage, three or four times a year they play Panera Bread and roast beef tech and Alabama students are like, ‘I’m not paying top dollar for this. I’m not waiting for the Auburn game, not waiting for the Georgia game. It’s garbage.’

“So a day later*, Alabama does something they haven’t done in six years**, they scheduled a home and home with Wisconsin. Interesting. They don’t hear though, Nick never hears anything. And I like Nick Saban but he controls, four games a year on that schedule, and he won’t play legitimate teams. ‘Well, it’s really difficult for us to get a home and home.’ Funny, two days* after I ripped you, you found Wisconsin. It’s not hard at all, but you have to be willing to go to Wisconsin. Call Chris Peterson at Washington, they’ll do a home-and-home with Yeah, but you’re gonna have to go to Seattle, and you don’t like leaving the South. You don’t like going on the road, because in year four Nick Saban last three games at Alabama. And he said, ‘I’m not going on the road anymore,’ and he started messing around with the schedule.”

Following that comment, Cowherd went on an odd tangent about Pete Carroll. Apparently, Cowherd really loves him some Pete Carroll despite the fact the Trojans were violating several major NCAA violations during this time, Carroll was slapped with a “lack of institutional control” charge and fled USC for the NFL before the sanctions hit. But he wasn’t afraid of anything, according to Cowherd.

“Pete Carroll at USC didn’t duck anybody,” Cowherd said (we assume he means outside of the NCAA’s investigators). “Pete Carroll would go to Virginia Tech and not get a home game back. Pete Carroll would go to Ohio State. Pete Carroll would go anywhere anytime — he went to Auburn, he went to Arkansas, he went to Virginia Tech, Pete Carroll went anywhere. He wasn’t afraid of anybody with USC’s talent. He went to Virginia Tech one year with a great team and I don’t think they ever came back out to LA. Because Pete Carroll knew in Los Angeles people aren’t going to tolerate Utah State. They want to be entertained and Alabama fans are like we’re tired of beaten crap. They want to go to Wisconsin NC Wisconsin come. And don’t tell me the SEC just too tough up, give me a break. But too tough Why do you win it every year on a cakewalk? George’s good everybody else in that conference underachieved the last decade.”

Aside from having some factual errors in his statement (see below), Cowherd must think these home-and-home deals get made over the phone during lunch break. If Cowherd really thinks he is the reason Alabama scheduled Wisconsin, it will be interesting to see what he takes credit for next.

*it was actually a week later

**Alabama has a home-and-home with Texas before playing Wisconsin, which was announced last offseason