Dave Martin, Associated Press
Alabama football is apparently still looking for a team to play in 2015. Should BYU be that team?
The knee-jerk reaction is a resounding yes, but let's take a methodical look at this potential game.
First of all, we know that the Crimson Tide needs another home game to complete its schedule. Alabama athletic director Bill Battle told CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler that, "Right now we'd take anybody." Fowler even goes out of his way later in the article to single out the Cougars as a possible opponent.
That should definitely get BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe's attention.
As a matter of fact, BYU still has a vacancy in its 2015 schedule. So, this should be an easy solution for both teams, right?
Well, not so fast.
BYU already has a tough schedule in 2015 with trips to Nebraska and Michigan. Also, the Cougars already have six road games: Nebraska, Michigan, Southern Miss, San Jose State, UNLV and Utah State. If anything, BYU is looking for a sixth home game.
A game with Alabama in 2015 would be in Tuscaloosa.
Furthermore, the Crimson Tide probably want to play BYU early in the schedule. If Alabama is going to play any non-conference teams in the heat of SEC play, it's going to be a FCS cupcake team.
BYU plays Michigan on Sept. 5, Boise State on Sept. 12 and Nebraska on Sept. 26. While Boise State may or may not be willing to move its matchup until later in the season, the games against the Wolverines and ’Huskers aren't going to be able to move.
That leaves Sept. 19. That would be a brutal month indeed if BYU added the formidable Crimson Tide at that spot.
Also, the Cougars need another home game in 2015. If this were to happen, BYU would have to bump Southern Miss, San Jose State or UNLV from its schedule in order to make room for that sixth home game. Given that mighty Alabama is having issues finding a 2015 home game, BYU will probably have no choice but to schedule a lower-division opponent to complete the schedule.
That said, BYU is probably going to have to play an FCS team anyway. However, simply dropping a team from the schedule isn't something that Holmoe and BYU can do lightly these days, especially as the Cougars look to build relationships with these school and fill future schedules.
That's part of being independent.
If Alabama was looking for a game in 2016 or beyond, this would be a no-brainer for the Cougars. While BYU would prefer to bring teams to Provo, Alabama is a big enough name that you can accept a one-game series. 2015 presents enough logistical headaches for the Cougars to at least take a step back and think about it.
However, Fowler’s article floats the idea of a home-and-home series. If that is indeed on the table for BYU, then it makes all the sense in the world for the Cougars to play the Crimson Tide in 2015, even with the above-mentioned issues.
BYU has had a hard time getting high-profile teams to Provo since going independent. Alabama is as big of a name as exists in college football. Getting the Tide to LaVell Edwards Stadium would be a major coup for Holmoe and the Cougars. That game would be completely sold out, no doubt about it.
If there’s any chance of bringing Alabama to Provo, BYU should do everything in its power to make this happen.
All of this said, just because the words “home-and-home” were floated in Fowler’s article does not mean that Alabama would be willing to schedule such a series with everyone. While the suggestion is there, there’s no guarantee that Alabama would be willing to travel to Provo in some future game even with its current scheduling problem.
So, should BYU go out of its way to play Alabama in 2015 even if there's no home-and-home agreement?
Of course, Holmoe is in the best position to make this decision because he knows the inside scoop. Holmoe could already have a big-name team scheduled for 2015 and he's just waiting for BYU's media day to announce it.
Or, it's possible that Alabama isn't as willing to play the Cougars as Fowler's article would make it appear. After all, Battle isn't the one who brought up BYU. Fowler did. Perhaps the Crimson Tide are trying to coax some other team into playing them by using this article.
But based on the facts we currently have, BYU should try to play Alabama in 2015.
The Cougars aren't going to get the chance to play teams such as the Crimson Tide every year, particularly given new scheduling rules. This is too big of an opportunity to let fall by the wayside.
The only way independence in college football will work for BYU in the long-term is if it can prove that it belongs with the big dogs. Admittedly, BYU would be a heavy underdog in Tuscaloosa, and it's unlikely the Cougars would be able to pull off the upset.
But can you imagine what kind of national attention BYU would receive if it shocked the Crimson Tide? 2015 could be the season of a lifetime if the Cougars were to take down Michigan, Nebraska and Alabama all in the same season.
Unlikely? That's an understatement. But why not try to swing for the fences?
All things considered, BYU should do what it can to play Alabama in 2015.
Lafe Peavler is a staff sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.
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