Sep 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide mascot Big Al leads the team onto the field prior to the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Hey Alabama, you still owe BYU a visit to Provo

The college football world was buzzing yesterday about an article by CBS’ Jeremy Fowler discussing how the Alabama Crimson Tide are struggling to fill out their 2015 schedule with a 12th opponent.

Fowler even mentioned the possibility of the Tide scheduling BYU in 2015.  Alabama Athletic Director, Bill Battle responded with, “We’ve called everybody we know.”

Does Bill Battle really know anyone from BYU?  It’s definitely possible.  The Tide likely reached out to BYU about a game in Tuscaloosa during the first month of the 2015 season.  The same month that already contains road games to Nebraska and Michigan for BYU.  Those games of course aren’t going anywhere.

Like the Tide, BYU is still in search of a 12th game for 2015, but unlike the Tide, BYU needs a sixth home game.  Traveling to Tuscaloosa would give BYU only five home games in 2015, and that just isn’t going to happen.  Maybe you buy out a game with a San Jose State or UNLV who would love to schedule BYU again in future years to make room for the trip to Tuscaloosa.  But then I get thinking, why aren’t the Tide coming to Provo?  After all, Alabama still owes BYU a visit to Happy Valley-West.

Back in 1987, there was an Associated Press release on a scheduling agreement between BYU and Alabama.  Nowadays, we hear scheduling agreements via Twitter all the time.  When Baylor schedules Incarnate Word,  we know about it.  A lot of that is due to the guys over at FBschedules.com, they do a hell of a job, and if you don’t know about that site get familiar ASAP.  Back in the 80′s scheduling announcements weren’t news stories.  But when the Tide and BYU announced a two-game series it was news.  Here was the original AP article:

Alabama and Brigham Young University have agreed to play football games in 1995 and 1996, Steve Sloan, the Alabama athletic director, said today.

The Oct. 28, 1995 game has been set at Provo, Utah, and the Oct. 5, 1996 match has been scheduled in Alabama.

Getting the Tide was a big deal.  One because they were Alabama, and two, the Tide rarely travelled west for games.  At the time, the Tide’s most recent trips out west were Washington in 1978, and a pair of visits to Los Angeles to take on USC in 1971 & 1977.  For BYU, scheduling Alabama was another sign that BYU was amongst the nation’s elite, as they continued to feel the afterglow from the National Title just three years before this scheduling agreement was announced.

BYU had only played one other SEC program in their history at this point in time.  That one matchup came  against Heisman Trophy winning running back, Herschel Walker and the Georgia Bulldogs in 1980.  BYU fell short in that game 17-14 despite six interceptions by Steve Young.  The Cougars were looking forward to another shot at the SEC, and prove their worth down in the southern region of the country.

Former BYU Athletic Director, Glen Tuckett was instrumental in landing the home-and-home with Alabama.  Tuckett was one of the more respected AD’s in all of the country at the time, and he had a good relationship with Bama AD, Steve Sloan.  It was going to be a series for the ages that Cougar fans were anticipating for years.

The first change in the series came in 1990 when Alabama pushed the 1996 game back to a November date.  Many were surprised that the Tide would play a competitive non-conference game late in the season during SEC play.  Can you imagine the excitement today from Cougar fans of a scheduling agreement with a team like Alabama where the first game is in Provo, and both games were in the back half of the schedule?  BYU Twitter would be on fire.

Here’s a picture from the 1990 BYU media guide with future schedules.  Look at 1995 & 1996 where Alabama is listed. (Side note: How cool does a BYU-Temple matchup sound?)

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 2.07.59 AM

As we all know these games were never played.  Why?  The Crimson Tide officially backed out in 1994 due to “SEC commitments”.  What were those SEC commitments exactly?  The new SEC Championship Game is what ultimately cost BYU a chance to host Alabama.  The Tide couldn’t justify having a quality game like BYU on the schedule with the extra SEC game to worry about now.

The Tide ended up playing North Texas and the Cougars scrambled to schedule Tulsa in 1995.  Arkansas State ended up being the replacement game in 1996 when BYU was expected to travel to Tuscaloosa.

Can you imagine the 1996 team traveling to Tuscaloosa on a November night in Bryant-Denny Stadium?  Both teams were very good that year.  Would have been a Top-10 matchup.  Had BYU played there and won, that game would have sprung BYU into the National Championship discussion despite being a one-loss team.  Instead of being bored to death with a Florida State-Florida rematch, we could have seen BYU take on another SEC foe that season for the Crystal Ball.

BYU eventually ended up playing a game against Alabama to open the 1998 season in Tuscaloosa.  Like the original scheduling agreement, Glen Tuckett was the man behind this game as well.  This time however, Tuckett was the A.D. at Alabama. Tuckett served as an interim A.D. for one academic year (1995-96) to clean up the Tide athletic department that was facing numerous sanctions from the NCAA.  Tuckett cleaned up the Tide athletic department and gave BYU the chance to play another game in SEC country.  Like the game against Georgia in 1980, BYU fell just short, losing to the Tide 38-31 behind another star running back, Shaun Alexander.

So back to today, what’s the hold up Alabama?  You feel you need a seventh home game, I get that.  But with the type of home schedules you’ve been piecing together the past few years I’m sure Tide fans would agree they’d rather see their team take a risk and play a team like BYU. Instead of another home game against a Georgia State. Hell, do you want to anger Nick Saban?  He wasn’t too thrilled with the Tide fans leaving early during games last year.  But with the opponents they were seeing, can you blame them?  Give Alabama fans a game that they would be locked to for a full 60 minutes.  Or do you just want to call Chattanooga or Colorado State again for a game?  Since that Washington game in 1978 that I mentioned earlier, your program has only came west once in the regular season.  That was a 2002 game against Hawaii, but does that really count?  Who doesn’t do the Hawaii thing at least once?

Finally, you know BYU will return the favor.  You could probably tell BYU they’ll have to come to Tuscaloosa three times after your one visit to Provo.  What person around the BYU program is going to complain about a chance to play in Bryant-Denny three times?  Very few.  Especially when you consider BYU is looking to fill schedules with quality opponents in this new playoff era that emphasizes strength of schedule.  BYU would do whatever it takes to get a series cooking, but you have to commit to that one game in 2015.

What do you say Alabama?  Roll Tide Roll to Provo, Utah in 2015.

Tags: BYU Cougars

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