Alabama and Virginia Tech will resume a storied neutral site rivalry borne in non-descript, multi-purpose facilities thanks to the Chick-Fil-A College Kickoff.
The proposed 2013 game will be a rematch of the 2009 game, which with so many potentially fresh and interesting match-ups to be created in this young game's history, has us growing more and more suspicious of the Kickoff as anything other than a bookend bowl. Lovely chicken foodstuffs aside, this affair is fast becoming just another corporate revenue whore (at least this one told us we were pretty a few times), pillaging campus sites to charge $125 a ticket in the upper deck of the Georgia Dome.
We're beginning to see the Kickoff stray from its initially stated intent: featuring a single, high profile game matching two ranked teams (usually the SEC and ACC, or a nationally known outsider). That's why a rematch no casual fan is really that interested in has been granted a sequel - it provides the strongest guarantee that the Kickoff will feature two ranked opponents. That's important to avoid certain other interests from replicating Chick-Fil-A's format and stealing the thunder of opening weekend.
2012 will feature two games - Auburn-Clemson and NC State-Tennessee - that don't scream marquee, and by all accounts should be played on their respective campuses. Granted, Tigers-Tigers will be the third in a series that's featured games at both schools, so consider this neutral site finale your steel cage, loser-leaves-town blowoff. 2014 will feature Alabama and a TBD opponent as well as Ole Miss and Boise State, the compromise brokered by Chick-Fil-A officials and the Rebels to break a 2011 one-off between the schools in Oxford because Georgia needed a nationally ranked foil for this fall, and the Rebels finished 4-8 last year. While contractually obligated to take place, three years doesn't inspired much more confidence in this becoming a marquee game either, and could still be quarantined to the parking lot of a Gwinnett County Publix.
Let's not lose sight of the rare and commendable decision by BCS title contenders to challenge themselves: But if the Tide and Hokies are interested in playing again, isn't time an opponent the caliber of Alabama travel to Blacksburg? A home-home series makes a lot more sense for the most amount of fans and promises to produce college football brand mystique - God knows we'd love to see the incredulity of Bama's RV Nation when "Enter Sandman" conjures up the mojo of an Appalachian Baton Rogue (if that descriptor makes you wet you pants in the manner of a literary brown note, it's OK, that's the intent).