A rumored USC-Alabama game is now official, per USC Athletics’ official Twitter account. It’s an exciting pairing of two of college football’s most storied programs.
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) July 16, 2014
And yet, the end product is somewhat disappointing.
I can’t be overly critical of the continued uptick in Pac-12 and SEC crossover scheduling. But whereas UCLA-Texas A&M and Arizona-Mississippi State brokered series that send each program to the opponents’ on-campus stadium, the USC-Alabama game is another installment in the NFL-ization of college football.
No home-and-home. No shouts of “Roll Tide!” emanating from the restaurants on Figueroa, as Alabama fans descend on the Coliseum. No cardinal-and-gold invasion of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Hey, why have two of the sport’s most historic programs play in two of the most historic venues when college football’s answer to the Legion of Doom is available? Jerry Jones is starting to resemble Lex Luthor more every day, after all.
But at least the Legion of Doom had some character, surrounded by a swamp rather than parking lot.
Jerry World is one step closer to what I can only assume is an ongoing mission to host literally every sporting event in America. Even AT&T needs help footing the stadium’s $1.15 billion price tag, after all.
John Bacon’s book Fourth & Long more eloquently juxtaposed the spirit of college football with the monument to corporate excess that is AT&T Stadium. Bacon focused on an earlier season-opening one-off involving Alabama, the Crimson Tide’s pasting of Michigan in 2012.
Much like the USC-Alabama game, Michigan-Alabama was a missed opportunity for two programs rich in history to play on college football’s most hallowed grounds.
Alas, such is the direction of the opening week, high-profile game. While the second half of the Clemson-Georgia series promises to be another classic this year, most of the marquee, nonconference tilts set to open 2014 will be played in NFL domes: Ole Miss vs. Boise State and Alabama vs. West Virginia (Georgia Dome); LSU vs. Wisconsin (NRG Stadium); and the annual Cowboys Classic in Jerry World, Oklahoma State vs. defending national champion Florida State.
The game itself is a great thing. Many on the West Coast feel the Pac-12 is catching up to SEC supremacy, and this is an ideal matchup to see where the conferences stack up against each other. It’s a dream contest to be sure, but will lack the college atmosphere that would otherwise make this meeting perfect.