Once more, Alabama opens season with an exclamation point

A rare photo catches Nick Saban smiling at the beginning of fall camp, here during Alabama’s media day Saturday. (Vasha Hunt/Alabama Media Group via AP)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – In 28 days, Alabama plays Florida State in what is understatedly being called “The Mother of All First Games,” or something very like that.

A Historic Hello.

A first chapter the way they used to write them in the Old Testament.

No. 1 ‘Bama vs. the No. 3 Seminoles playing in September, helping to break in Atlanta’s new stadium and its troublesome lid.

It is just the greatest opening statement since: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent. . .”

The grandest opening scene since that Imperial star destroyer filled the screen in “Star Wars.” (With Alabama’s Nick Saban at the helm, many in other parts of the SEC believe).

Or, if you are of Alabama persuasion, it’s known as just another necessary start to a season.

Give the Crimson Tide credit, grudging if you must, for knowing how to clear its throat and get everyone’s attention. Philosophies vary on how best to approach Game One. Do you ease in with some willing FCS fodder, staging a glorified exhibition game, just getting your team’s beak wet and testing your fans’ capacity to care? Or do you give everyone a good show, while challenging yourself and your players by facing somebody real?

None of Alabama’s openers in the five preceding years smack of red velvet cupcake: Michigan, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Southern Cal. And Louisville is in line for 2018.

Easing into a season – like a tourist in Florida determined to go swimming in February – is increasingly out of vogue. Along the way, the Crimson Tide has shown ‘em how to open. Saban is 10-0 in season-openers at Alabama, so it’s not as if any part of that tactic has backfired. And certainly as for kickoff games like the one in Atlanta, it’s pays well, too.

“That’s usually how we do things around here, we open with a really good team,” Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts said during Saturday’s media day in Tuscaloosa. “As a player here, you expect that. If you want to be the best you got to play against the best. That’s the situation we put ourselves in.”

It’s a canny move, really, to play such a game up front, earning credit for schedule strength and giving yourself ample time to improve your position should you happen to open with an “L.”

Saban certainly wouldn’t play these kind of openers so consistently if the benefit wasn’t so clear. A quality opening opponent keeps the players focused on a fixed point on the horizon during the drudgery of spring and summer workouts. It can tend to snap them to attention after, say, a tough national championship loss to Clemson.

And there’s this: “It goes a long way to tell us as coaches and our team where we are in our progression, where we are capable of getting to because you played a really good opponent,” Saban said.

“Sometimes if you play a not-so-good opponent in the first game, maybe some of the issues and problems don’t surface, therefore you don’t address them. I’ve always liked playing a good opponent because of the effect that it has on the off-season. I think the players have really good focus in fall camp getting ready for that game. And from a coaching standpoint it tells you where your team is.”

But most importantly for all the rest of the world not on scholarship, it gives us something to really gnaw on rather than the vanilla pudding kind of opening game that can be so common. For that, thanks to all those willing to step up right from the first whistle. This month can’t pass quickly enough.

Reader Comments 0

66 comments
OH:IO
OH:IO

Bovada sportsbook:


dogs: 25:1


Place your bets, dogs. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

How about that OH:IO Buteye! He's back for another season of humiliation.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@TideDawg


Buteye - more classless name calling from a coattail riding dog. Expect nothing less . 3rd grade attempt at humor. 

OH:IO
OH:IO

@TideDawg


Humiliation? 8-4 and an annual Toilet Bowl. It's what dogs do.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

And you're above it all, right, lying hypocrite?

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

but Ohio State's forecast is understandably murky. The last time we saw the Buckeyes, their offense failed to score as Urban Meyer suffered the first big-stage embarrassment of his coaching career.

Bawahwahwahwah

31-0

Bawahwahwahwah

OH:IO
OH:IO

Bama and The Coattail Riders.....


Sounds like the first act  of a Jesse and The Rippers concert. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

If I were a dawg fan I would be concerned about App. St....they aren't Nichollback St. ya know.

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TideDawg
TideDawg

It's my opinion that Notre Dame will not figure in the CFP for years to come. Why? They made a bad deal with the ACC. I'm sure they made that deal with the intent on playing teams in a weak conference. Nada! The ACC has risen to new heights in the college football elite. I think Notre Dame did not see that one coming. The once proud Irish are also-rans.....again! Teams they don't want to play.....FSU, Louisville, Clemson, Va. Tech, Ga. Tech, with Miami and North Carolina on the rise. Bad move Notre Dame.....Bad move! Their last attempt at Southern football......Alabama in the NC game......humiliation at it's finest.

dawg fan
dawg fan

Some schlub at ESPN is hyping them as a playoff contender. It's like they get hit in the head every year and forget the past 20 years of Notre Dame being the most overrated choke artist phony in all of sports.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@dawg fan If Notre Dame is a choke artist...what the he!! are the dawgs?

dawg fan
dawg fan

We'll find out September 9th at 7:30 on NBC national television. The entire Tech nation will be watching every down of it because we live rent free in your heads 24/7/365. Meanwhile, people will continue to give a flying two cent crap about Georgia Tech football. A lot of noon snoozers and half empty stadiums. The usual.

Georgia Tech=JOKE.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@dawg fan The usual?...oh, I guess we win over the under-achieving mutts again...good call dawgphlem.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@TideDawg


Right,  but you dogs are going to hype the sheet out of that game, especially if you squeek out a W. 

OH:IO
OH:IO

@dawg fan


See above above re:  dogs hype for this exhibition. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

You call 3-13 "the usual"???

You set new standards for ignorance with every post.

dawg fan
dawg fan

Im not sure it's fair to compare everyone else to Bama in this regard. It's probably a lot easier for them to get in these games due to their brand and fan support than it is for other schools. They also don't have a big annual rivalry with an OOC opponent to deal with like a lot of other programs. I love these games but everybody can't play them every year. That's not realistic.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@dawg fan Dawgs have added Kent State to the 2022 schedule!!...Hahaha!!

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DawgNole
DawgNole

Both teams are due a well-deserved tip o' the cap for having the guts to schedule top-shelf OOC competition for their home openers--unlike the vast majority of their buy-a-win Power 5 brethren.

DawgNole
DawgNole

Hummer: "No. 1 ‘Bama vs. the No. 3 Seminoles playing in August, helping to break in Atlanta’s new stadium and its troublesome lid."

_______________

The game's scheduled for September 2.

JKToole
JKToole

With the exception of in-state rivalries (which are always a gas), who wouldn't want to see their team play the very best teams in the nation?

Who wants to watch their teams play Samford or Jacksonville State?

TideDawg
TideDawg


Ohio State will probably run through their schedule like a hot knife through melted butter. They don't venture South to play the top teams here....good or bad it's an opinion. Rematches don't draw much attention. OSU will probably be in the playoffs. Playing a team in the South, win or lose, would not create much interest should there be a rematch in the playoffs. Fans want the best teams in the playoffs, Television wants regional matchups(North, South, East, West) bad idea, usually bad games. Southern Cal may venture into the playoff picture this year. The media will try to see to that. The best matchups come from the North and South. There will likely be two teams from the South(ACC and SEC) in the playoffs. OSU will probably be one of those teams because they don't play anybody and they ARE good enough to play anybody. I have no idea which Southern teams will make it but it should be (Alabama, FSU, Clemson or a dark horse surprise)



OH:IO
OH:IO

@TideDawg


Yep. Will make playoff for 3rd time in 4 years?

DAWGnGA
DAWGnGA

Give me FSU, Oklahoma, USC,  Michigan, Ohio St, even lesser schools like Okla. St. Penn St., Texas, Notre Dame, and Oregon, teams we wouldnt play but will impress the polls and create fan interest.  It would create a drive in the recruits to know they would be traveling or hosting a top name team if they come to Georgia.


It would give players a sense of urgency to get their game together because they have a good team on the schedule right away.  Then the players are further ahead in their development.   Georgia would be ahead in their game planning going forward, not just attempting to get by the first three games.  They should be in mid-season form right away. 


It is all in the motivation and attitude!!


McGarity has to go, he is holding Georgia back in his mindset.