Alabama has a couple of holes to fill on its 2015 non-conference schedule. Cincinnati does not, but it’s open to increasing its strength.
According to a Tuesday report in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the two teams coming together for a game as soon as next season is not out of the realm of possibilities. The Bearcats — led by former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville — are in talks with “several” SEC teams, including the Crimson Tide, according to the report.
Though Cincinnati’s 2015 non-conference schedule is full, it’s toyed with the idea of finding a new opponent for when it re-opens its home field, Nippert Stadium, on Sept. 5, 2015. It’s currently slated to host Alabama A&M but it’s looking for a “more marquee foe.” Cincinnati, which will play the 2014 season at Paul Brown Stadium, has some potential flexibility with an open date the following week, a time when many SEC schools like to play non-conference games.
The Bearcats’ other non-conference games are set for Sept. 19 (Miami [Ohio]), Oct. 3 (Miami [Fla.]) and Oct. 24 (BYU). According to a previous Enquirer report, the game against Alabama A&M could be moved to a different date.
Alabama has made no bones about how it is running out of time to fill its 2015 non-conference slate. Athletic director Bill Battle went as far to say “we’d take anybody,” but the possibilities are limited because Alabama needs the opponent to be from the FBS and most of those schools already have full schedules.
The Crimson Tide currently has just two of the four spots accounted for, as it will open against Wisconsin on Sept. 5 in Dallas and host Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 26. As it’s done in recent years, Alabama likely will host an FCS opponent in mid-November.
“Outside of the neutral-site game we do and our conference games, we struggle to schedule three other games,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said at last month’s SEC spring meetings.
The Enquirer tossed out the idea of Alabama potentially traveling to Cincinnati to re-open 40,000-seat Nippert Stadium, but that’s considered unlikely because it would shrink the Crimson Tide’s 2015 home schedule to six games. Alabama last played six home games in 2000, but that was before 12-game schedules became the norm.
The Crimson Tide is still in the market for a marquee non-conference foe in 2016. It recently added Western Kentucky to that year’s slate.
Alabama and Cincinnati last faced each other in 1990, when the Crimson Tide won, 45-7, at Legion Field in Birmingham. Alabama is 5-0 all-time against the Bearcats.