Alabama and the state of New Mexico will meet on Saturday at a football game, few, if any, have toured their calendar. The two programs are located more than 1,200 miles away on the map and are even further in status. They have never played each other before and there are no historical links to talk about.
The State of New Mexico has several reasons to travel halfway across the country to take what Las Vegas says will be a 55.5 point Crimson Tide # 2 beating. The largest comes in $ 1.7 million, the Aggies are guaranteed to make the trip. The real question is how these two schools on opposite sides of the college on the football spectrum have even found each other and how similar games come together.
New Mexico Director of Athletics Mario Mokia compares the process to a trip to the grocery store. Imagine Alabama as a customer, recreating your shopping list as you search for what is available at what prices.
In college football, this grocery store has a software program called Gridiron and its manager is Dave Brown.
Brown, a former ESPN college football planning executive, spent the better part of three decades combining schools for leading the net in games. He is now considered a lifesaver among college athletic directors who can use their subscription service for easy access to schedules and any other information needed to collect future games.
"It's a very good service. I can look and say, 'We need a game this year and this date and we will be interested in playing any of this conference,' said Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne. "Physically, I can go in there and see who has the opportunity and open in just a few seconds."
Brown doesn't work with big schools. The collegiate football matchmaker is associated with a wide range of athletic directors throughout the country and is partially responsible for most non-conference games in the sport.
"Do you remember that person who married all those people en masse? I think they called them Mooney, ”Mochiya said. "Dave Brown has just as many marriages as this organization."
For Brown, playing Cupid usually comes down to three main components – a team ready to go, a team needing a home game and a date that works for both. While it may sound simple, the complexity of the process has kept it in business for years.
"When I look at a situation, these are the things that pop up," he said. "Can we make an appointment? If so, great. Then, as the great Lee Corso said," Not so fast, my friend. "Because if someone can't continue on the road, it's just a short conversation. You'd be surprised how fast it all fades into the possibilities."
Why the State of New Mexico Needs This Game
Like the arranged marriages for which Moccia was mentioned above, the accumulation of this year's coincidence between Alabama and New Mexico did not have much romance.
According to an article in Las Cruces Sun News, the Aggies were approved to strengthen their track and field department after joining the Western Athletic Conference in 2005. By 2010, the department's deficit had accumulated to a staggering $ 9.5 million.  The New Mexico State Council of Republicans states that spending exceeded what it should have and calls for the debt to be returned to the school by 2021. A On issues, the State of New Mexico, which has continued to join the 2014 Sun Belt Conference was voted on outside the conference, forcing Agii to become independent at the beginning of season 2018.  litany of misery only makes brilliant salary at the end of Saturday's game even more enticing.
"I don't just need the money to make my department work," Mokia explained. "I also need the money to get the mortgage payment the state requires."
Last week, New Mexico received $ 600,000 for its trip to Pullman, Washington, which resulted in a 58-7 defeat to Washington state. Along with $ 1.7 million to play in Alabama this week, the Aggies will also receive their last strong salary this season when they raise $ 1.5 million to play against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., On November 9th. The glove is far from perfect for Mokia, who aims to play only one warranty game a season after his department's debt is paid off. However, for the time being, a total of $ 3.8 million will have to make.
"I don't know if I can handle having only one, but I hope I won't have to play two SEC teams in the future," Moccia said. "If you look at our future schedules, we have Alabama, we have Florida, Missouri, we're talking to Texas A&M. After all, I would like to schedule a Power 5 team that is not necessarily the winner in the world. "
It is worth noting that, as grim as things may seem for the state of New Mexico, there are reasons for the Agies to be excited about their trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala. Moccia points to a 2017 season in which receiver Jail Scott split eight receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns for the Ages in a 37-31 defeat to Arizona State. Moccia believes that Scott's performance against the Pac-12's competition plays a role in it, becoming the fourth round of Baltimore Ravens next year.
"It's something we use a lot when hiring," Mochi said. "As a low-resource school, in addition to playing time and other such things, we tell the kids that they will play against great competition. We tell them that they will play in Alabama, you will play at the University of Mississippi. These are games where I don't care who you are, you can prove yourself. "
Why Alabama Pays for the Game
Alabama's planning decisions are made by three people: Byrne, head coach Nick Saban and Deputy Athletics Director Finus Gaston. Byrne and Gaston work most of the legs, the latter handling most of the financial issues. However, Saban still has a key role to play in this process.
"We will plan games that fit into his vision as a head football coach," Byrne said. "We're talking about philosophies. We're talking about opponents. We talk about all those things. He was very open to creating the homes and homes we created and continued to add other good games to us.
Since Saban's arrival in 2007, Alabama has predominantly gone with a planning model that includes one Power Five team, two five-team teams, and an FCS opponent like his four foes. Saban is at the forefront of the recent push by the Power 5 teams to play each other. However, this is more than a discussion about the future.
As for Saturday's game, New Mexico State was probably a product of convenience. Bill Beatle was Alabama's athletic director when the deal was organized weekly in August 2016. While Battle was not available for comment on this story, here are a few things to look at.
As an independent, New Mexico has greater flexibility in job planning. Conference-affiliated schools must receive their approved non-conference schedules before agreeing on future games.
This process can be difficult as conferences have to balance the number of teams allowed to play non-conference games in a given week to ensure that the league has a balanced schedule. For example, Alabama's game against Southern Miss on September 21 is possible, as five other Conference schools in the US played non-conference games, while Marshall and Middle Tennessee had a bye for weeks.
It is also worth noting that both this week's game deals as well as that of the Southern Miss game were collected in 2016, a brief twist on planning. Today, New Mexico and Southern Miss have taken numerous warranty games this season, indicating that they need money and perhaps a little more willing to face an opponent of Alabama's caliber.
"Let's be honest here, the tide speaks for itself in terms of competitive performance," Brown said. "There may be several teams looking for a more competitive balance and may be willing to take on a little less guarantee."
And how did the $ 1.7 million figure come about?
Byrne stated that Alabama's planning budget is based on ticket revenue. According to a report by AL.com, the Alabama Athletics Department brought in $ 177.5 million in total revenue last year, allowing it to be one of the nation's largest investors when it comes to scheduling non-conference games.
The Crimson Tide paid the State of Arkansas the same $ 1.7 million guarantee for Week 2 play and will pay $ 1.3 million for the Week 2 game in Georgia next year. The numbers have grown to the record $ 1.91 million that Alabama will send to Utah to play in 2022.
Programs are easily aware of such numbers through a subscription database called WinAD, which provides trends in the contract for more than 42 000 Division I and Division II. This helps alert programs like the State of New Mexico on Alabama's willingness to spend, helping them get the largest possible guarantee – like the $ 1.9 million the Agies will receive when they return to Tuscaloosa in 2021.
to the future
There aren't many fans looking forward to opening the home on Saturday. The forecasted temperatures of 97 degrees with Kikoff created even more apathy for the shovel of the match. This will inevitably lead to several empty spaces inside Bryant-Denis Stadium.
Last month, Saban even went so far as to say that he did not blame fans for not appearing for games like these.
"I can promise you that we want to play more games against Power 5 teams and we need to play more games against Power 5 teams, all of us," Saban told ESPN. "If we don't, the fans will refuse to come and I can't say I blame them."
Alabama has already pushed for more Power 5 teams at Bryant-Denny Stadium, scheduling several households – and home series with high profile programs. The Crimson Tide has homes with Texas (2022-23), Wisconsin (2024-25), West Virginia (2026-27), Notre Dame (2028-29) and Oklahoma (2032-33).
It's worth noting that Alabama still has games against Group 5 opponents in its future schedule. The Crimson Tide will face Georgia and Kent next year before hosting New Mexico and Southern Miss again in 2021. Alabama has even scheduled a two-for-one deal with South Florida that will see the Crimson The Tide will travel to Tampa, Florida. 2023, before hosting the Bulls in 2024 and 2026. It is not inconceivable to imagine a future with fewer matches between the Power 5 and the 5-team.
"I think the model is starting to change," Byrne said. "Coach Saban and I talked a lot about it. He leads the charge with the Power 5 teams playing each other and having 10 or 11 a year. I think that would be good for the game. ”
Of course, it depends on who you want.
"I would say that Power 5 should also look at the health of college football in general," Mochi said. "There are 130 of us, and although I don't tell them how to spend their money, if they ever cut out a group of 5, it might transfer a dollar to get a nickel.
"I think one can take care of the Power 5 schools to make sure that the college football business is healthy. I think these games – while Power 5 has a huge advantage and a huge profit margin – it allows Group 5 to stay healthy … That's exactly the guy in that chair in Los Cruz, New Mexico who says that. But I think others would probably agree with me. ”
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Andrew Bone, of BamaInsider.com, is a real estate broker in Alabama.
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