Will West Virginia and Alabama open the 2014 college football season?


Incredibly, we are down to just 107 days until the kickoff of the college football season, when Tennessee will play NC State on Friday, August 31 in the 2012 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic. But if you think it’s too early to look ahead through this August, straight past 2013 into 2014, well my friends, you’re sadly mistaken.

That’s because on Wednesday, the czar of college football himself, Nick Saban, may have tipped us off as to how the 2014 college football season will be opening. It’ll again happen in Atlanta, again in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic, and again, it’ll be a big one. Alabama and West Virginia are coming to a TV screen near you… in three years. Can you feel the excitement!!!

Here’s more info from West Virginia beat writer Mike Casazza:

Alabama football coach and Monongah (WV) native Nick Saban let a secret slip at a fundraising function Wednesday night, but it appears West Virginia and the Crimson Tide will play one another to open the 2014 season.

Speaking at a Crimson Caravan event in Alabama, the only coach with three BCS national titles reportedly revealed the matchup in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

WVU deputy director of athletics Mike Parsons confirmed the game “is in the works” and that some details need to be finalized before any announcement can be made. It would be played in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

Now, before everyone gets too eager and starts booking hotels 36 months out, do understand that there’s quite a lot to be worked on. According to Casazza, the Mountaineers 2014 schedule is basically already set, with a nine game Big XII schedule and out of conference games against East Carolina, Maryland and FCS Towson as well. It appears as though the East Carolina game would have to be moved to accommodate an opening night match with Alabama.

But if you’re a Mountaineers fan worried that your dream matchup with the Crimson Tide might not happen, don’t be; these sorts of behind-closed-doors scheduling deals go down all the time. As a matter of fact, if you’ll think back to last year’s Kickoff Classic between Boise and Georgia, you’ll remember that the game happened only after Boise called off their original opener with Ole Miss to play the ‘Dawgs in the Georgia Dome. Eventually, Boise got the game they wanted, Ole Miss got an opener against BYU, and the two teams re-scheduled their game to 2014. Interestingly, that game (Boise-Ole Miss) will also come in the Kickoff Classic, likely the night before a potential Alabama-West Virginia game.

As for what the two teams on the field will actually look like by that point, well really, it’s anyone’s guess. Both clubs enter the 2012 season with veteran quarterbacks, meaning that by 2014 both Geno Smith (West Virginia) and A.J. McCarron will be out the door, and in the pros collecting paychecks. Everything beyond that, is total conjecture at this point.

Of course if these two programs continue on the trajectory they’re currently on, there’s no reason to think it won’t be a matchup of elite teams. We already know what kind of juggernaut Nick Saban has- and continues to- put together in Tuscaloosa, and remember, this year’s top overall signing class would be entering their junior years at that point. As for West Virginia, well, after last January’s beat down of Clemson in the Orange Bowl, folks around Morgantown are plenty excited about their team too. By that point, Dana Holgorsen (who’d be entering his fourth year) might have a high-flying juggernaut at his disposal.

Either way, let’s credit these two teams and programs for trying to make a game of this significance happen. Alabama in particular has been unafraid to schedule tough openers under Saban, playing Clemson and Virginia Tech to open the 2008 and 2009 seasons respectively, and will follow it up with another date against the Hokies to open 2013 as well. And oh, by the way, we’ve still got 2012 right in front of us, in which Alabama will play Michigan to open the season. Ever heard of that school? You know “Hail to the Victors.” What a game that’ll be.

There is also one more thing to consider, and that’s this: As we look (way) ahead to this game, you’ll also note that 2014 is the first year of a proposed four-team college football playoff. Which brings us to the question: Could this end up as a playoff elimination game in Week 1?

It’s still a long way away, but it does seem feasible.

For all his insight, opinion and articles on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.

About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.