PROVO — BYU may have found another opponent for Week 1 of the college football season.
Of course, that all depends if there is a college football season in 2020.
And it also depends on whether the Southeastern Conference will continue to play a nonconference schedule.
But if all that comes together, the Cougars could be on the docket to face powerhouse Alabama as Week 1 opponents, according to a report by AL.com.
The Crimson Tide recently had their season-opening game against USC in Arlington, Texas, canceled in the same sweeping Pac-12 decision that removed BYU’s rivalry date at Utah from the 2020 schedule.
There’s a lot that would have to happen for the matchup to be considered. But it’s a “strong possibility,” SEC reporter Matt Zenitz writes.
“If the Crimson Tide ends up playing more than just SEC teams this year, there’s a strong possibility the Tide will open the season against BYU, sources told AL.com,” Zenitz wrote.
SEC officials and athletic directors met for eight hours in-person last Monday to address the future of sports on league campuses in the fall. No formal decisions were made regarding the college football season, but the league did postpone the start of its other fall sports — a move consistent with several other conferences, including BYU's own West Coast Conference.
The SEC will also honor the scholarships of any student-athlete who chooses not to compete in the 2020-21 academic calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“SEC universities are committed to full support of its student-athletes, whether or not a student-athlete decides to participate in sports during these uncertain times," commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement from the league office. “SEC student-athletes have frequently expressed their desire to compete, but it is important for student-athletes and their families to know the financial support committed to them by their institutions will not be at risk because of health concerns presented by the current pandemic.”
Sankey also told Sirius XM's Mad Dog Sports Radio that the intention to play a complete fall season remain part of the league's plans in football, even as they near a more formal cutoff date to finalize that decision:
“The start of a preseason camp in NFL, which will be about 10 days before our (full) practices begin ... that is not an absolute date but certainly one that is really important," Sankey told the radio station.
“I look towards late in the month as a check-in point at least,” he added, “and soon thereafter we will have to make a decision.”
The SEC, Atlantic Coast and Big XII conferences currently remain open to playing nonconference games this season.
A spokesman for BYU football did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Cougars have faced Alabama just once in program history, a 38-31 loss at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 1998. BYU went on to finish 9-5 that season with a loss to Air Force in the WAC championship game and a 41-27 loss to Tulane in the Liberty Bowl.
If Alabama is added to the schedule (or if the currently scheduled Missouri game Oct. 10 at home is not canceled), the Cougars will have faced an SEC opponent in three of the last four years. BYU most recently beat Tennessee 29-26 in double overtime in 2019.