TUSCALOOSA, Ala. The University of Alabama athletic department announced the finalization of the 2008 Crimson Tide football schedule with the addition of a season-opening game against Clemson University in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga., on Aug. 30, 2008.
“Alabama and Clemson represent two of the most tradition-rich teams in college football,” said Chick-Fil-A Bowl President Gary Stokan. “We have never had Alabama in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and we look forward to recruiting them to come and play in this game here on Aug. 30 and hopefully sometime soon have them in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. The Chick-Fil-A Bowl will manage the game as well as the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and Chick-Fil-A, who will sponsor this contest.
“We are awfully excited about this, we think the fan bases of the two teams will just really support this in a very favorable way. We’ve been working on this primarily with Mal Moore at Alabama for a little more than a year, we’ve talked about other teams and we’ve talked about later years. But I congratulate Mal for his impetus in really moving this forward.”
The Clemson game marks the second consecutive season that the Tide has faced a BCS conference opponent at a neutral site. Alabama played Florida State in Jacksonville, Fla., last September. That game drew 85,412 fans, setting an attendance record in Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
“The game with Clemson marks the culmination of approximately one year of work by our department along with officials at the Georgia Dome, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and the Atlanta Sports Commission to conduct an Alabama football game in the Georgia Dome,” said UA Director of Athletics Mal Moore. “We followed a concept based on our 2007 game with Florida State at Jacksonville.
“Our fans love going to Atlanta due to its proximity. I think it’s an outstanding venue for our team to play in, and the prospect of meeting an excellent Clemson team only makes us more excited about this venture. It’s a great single-game opportunity for both schools to gain national exposure, and it would not have been possible if not for the cooperation and support of the folks in Atlanta and at Clemson.”
The game will be hosted and operated by the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, with ticket allotments split between the two schools. Clemson will be the home team at the game, with the Southeastern Conference providing the officiating crew.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for our football players, our football team and our fans to have an opportunity to play against an outstanding opponent like Clemson, who has a great football team,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. “(Clemson Head Coach) Tommy (Bowden) has done a great job of building an outstanding program, a nationally recognized program.
“For Alabama to be able to play in Atlanta, which is a great city in the South, is certainly something that we look forward to. It’s a great opportunity for us; it’s great for national exposure, it’s great for recruiting. I’ve always been an advocate of trying to play games that bring national attention to the program. It’s interesting for the fans and I think this will be an outstanding venue.”
Alabama and Clemson have met 14 times on the gridiron, with the Tide holding an 11-3 advantage in the series that dates back to 1900. The most recent meeting between the two teams came in 1975, with the Tide earning a 56-0 win over the Tigers in Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The teams have also played games in Birmingham, Clemson and Columbia, S.C.
Since 1948 the Tide has compiled a 27-15 mark in regular-season neutral-site games, including a 26-14 record in 40 Iron Bowl games played at Legion Field in Birmingham, which was considered a neutral field from 1948-87. Alabama beat Ohio State on Aug. 27, 1986 in the Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, N.J., and lost to FSU, 21-14, last season in the River City Showdown.
The Tide finished its 2007 season with a win over Colorado in the PetroSun Independence Bowl and a 7-6 record in Saban’s first year as head coach at the Capstone. Clemson earned a 9-4 mark in 2007, including an overtime loss to Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta to finish the season.
The 2008 Alabama-Clemson contest is a single-game agreement between the two schools. Kickoff time and television arrangements have yet to be finalized. Ticket information will be released at a later date.