Earlier this month, college football fans were thrown a big treat when word came out that USC vs. Alabama will be a reality. The two behemoths will play in the 2016 Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas.
For USC fans clamoring for more chances at the SEC, it’s a thirst being a bit quenched.
For Sarkisian, it’s about putting a sanction-free Trojans team back on college football’s biggest stage, for everyone to see.
“I think it’s for our football program two years from now [to have] a chance to showcase SC football on a national stage against a team that in recent years has dominated college football,” Sarkisian told reporters at last week’s Pac-12 Media Day.
“It was a chance for us to be a couple years removed from the sanctions. We’re going to need a full roster to play those guys, that’s for sure.”
And without question, the Trojans will need all of the bodies they can get. USC will field a group of a just 65 scholarship players in 2014. Compare to that other schools like Alabama, who will have 85.
Two full recruiting classes in 2015 and 2016 should bring up the Trojans’ numbers, while USC’s high-profile 2014 signees like Adoree’ Jackson and Juju Smith will start their third seasons of college football against Alabama.
In theory, USC football will be in a much better place, and well in the midst of a rebound, therefore enabling more challenging scheduling.
“SC has always played the best opponents. This was a chance for us to do it [again].”
During the Pete Carroll era, the Trojans had marquee home-and-home series against the likes of Auburn, Ohio State and Nebraska, among others.
Since then, and with the exception of way-in-the-future deals with Texas, BYU and Tennessee, there’s been a slight regression in scheduling.
The big Pac-12 vs. SEC tilts with schools like Arkansas have been replaced with mid-to-lower-tier schools in power conferences like Virginia, Syracuse and Boston College.
That could be changing, as common thought among those in college football is that strength of schedule will be a major component of the seeding decision from College Football Playoff’s selection committee.
We’ll have to wait and see if that proves to be true. But what it means for the pomp circumstance of college football is sure.
“It’s great for fans,” said Sarkisian.
“I think it’s great for college football. I think it goes back to a rivalry from the early ’70s that might have changed the landscape of college football with Sam Cunningham and Bear Bryant and Coach McKay and all those things.”
It’s going to be quite a long wait.