The initial report of Alabama and USC meeting in the season-opening game in 2016 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, came from radio personality Dan Patrick, who included the disclaimer that "I don't know if it's a done deal. It was just sent to me as a heads up."
Alabama Coach Nick Saban didn't add much to the information when he met with reporters prior to a pro-am event at Shoal Creek in Birmingham Wednesday. "We're always looking," he said. "But not anything I can share with you right now.
"I don't think we want to create speculation. We're playing Wisconsin in Dallas next year (2015) and we were supposed to play Penn State in 2016; they bailed out on us, so we're looking for an opponent to play somewhere in 2016."
Our information from a very good source at Southern Cal is not so encouraging. The source, which requested anonymity, said, "We often get approached about scheduling opportunities. We have been approached about doing this game and we are looking at it, but there are a number of real challenges to scheduling this game.
"For instance, our 2016 schedule is full. We also need to evaluate the financial ramifications. At the end of the day, that could be an issue."
Alabama has a 5-2 record against Southern Cal, with both losses coming in Birmingham's Legion Field. The teams have not played since Bama took a 24-3 win over the Trojans in the Aloha Bowl at the end of the 1985 season.
The teams first met in 1938 when the Crimson Tide went to Los Angeles and defeated the Trojans, 19-7, in the season-opener.
On Jan. 1, 1946, Alabama completed a perfect season with a 34-14 romp over the Trojans in the Rose Bowl. The game was significant because following the Bama triumph – giving Alabama a 4-1-1 record in the Granddaddy of Bowl Games – the Rose Bowl decided to close up shop. The Pac-8, which owned the game, decided it wouldn't have its teams being beaten by Alabama any longer. After the 1946 game, the Pac-8 made a deal that its opponent would always come from the Big Ten.
After that Rose Bowl game the teams did not meet again until 1970. That game was made possible by the NCAA changing the rules to allow teams to play an 11th regular season game. Although there have been hare-brained sociological propositions put forth for the Tide taking on Southern Cal, the bottom line was the bottom line. Paul Bryant was both athletics director and head coach at Bama and he knew that Alabama vs. USC would provide big paydays. He convinced his good friend, Southern Cal Coach John McKay, to play a two-game series, one game in Birmingham's Legion Field, one in the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The first game was a disaster for Bama. Southern Cal took a 42-21 win that was characterized as a mercy killing, McKay calling off the dogs in what could have been even worse for Alabama.
But the 1971 victory by Alabama in Los Angeles may have been the biggest win in Crimson Tide history. Bryant was certainly considering retirement, but instead he re-tooled the Bama offense, re-invigorated the Tide defense, and went on to one of the finest decades in college football history.
Alabama went to Los Angeles, unveiled the wishbone offense with Terry Davis at quarterback and Johnny Musso at left halfback, and upset the No. 1 ranked Trojans, 17-10.
Bryant and Alabama would face USC two more times. In 1977, Southern Cal was part of a very tough schedule for Bama. In addition to its conference schedule, the Tide played at Nebraska, at Southern Cal, and home to Louisville and Miami. In Los Angeles, No. 7 Bama defeated No. 1 USC as defensive end Wayne Hamilton broke up a pass on a two-point conversion try by the Trojans.
In 1978, Southern Cal went to Birmingham and turned the tables. The seventh-ranked Trojans defeated the top-ranked Tide, 24-14. Bama was able to fight through that season and defeat No. 1 ranked Penn State in the Sugar Bowl to win the Associated Press national championship. USC won the UPI title.
Alabama has been very successful in the neutral site non-conference games, particularly in season-openers, under Saban. The games are popular with the athletics director because they provide very good revenue. It is the loss of home game revenue in a normal home-and-away series that is the primary drawback to high-profile, non-conference games.
Alabama's 2012 season included the most-anticipated season-opening game in many years, the Tide taking on the Michigan Wolverines in Cowboys Stadium. Bama was a surprising 41-14 winner en route to the national championship.
In 2009, another national championship year for Bama, the Tide opened the season with 34-24 win over Virginia Tech.
In addition to this year's neutral site season-opener, the Tide will open the 2015 season in Arlington against Wisconsin.