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WVU-Alabama game in the works for 2014

The Associated Press
Alabama head coach Nick Saban addresses the crowd at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 21 as the team celebrated its 14th national championship with a 21-0 win over LSU in the BCS Championship game in New Orleans on Jan. 9. Saban reportedly revealed at a fundraising dinner Wednesday that the Crimson Tide would be playing the West Virginia Mountaineers in the 2014 season opening Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game.

MORGANTOWN - Alabama football coach and Monongah native Nick Saban let a secret slip at a fundraising function Wednesday night, but it appears West Virginia and the Crimson Tide will play one another to open the 2014 season.

Speaking at a Crimson Caravan event in Alabama, the only coach with three BCS national titles reportedly revealed the matchup in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

WVU deputy director of athletics Mike Parsons confirmed the game "is in the works" and that some details need to be finalized before any announcement can be made. It would be played in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

WVU has its schedules set through for the next several years, including 2014, and will have to do some juggling to accommodate the reigning national champion. The Mountaineers play the same Big 12 Conference schedule that season that they will this season - five home and road games, led by Oklahoma and TCU at home and Texas and Oklahoma State on the road.

In non-conference play, WVU has a home game against the Football Championship Subdivision's Towson and road games against East Carolina and Maryland.

WVU would probably have to keep Towson on the schedule because it's a home game and then push either the ECU or Maryland game off that schedule and defer the series for one year. In that case, both teams are on the 2015 schedule.

However, a source said Wednesday night that WVU's plan was to get out of the 2014 game with East Carolina.That leaves WVU with only six home games in 2014, though that may not be an issue.

The Kickoff Game will most likely come with a payout that is greater than a home game for the Mountaineers. The projected team payout for the 2012 games (Tennessee vs. North Carolina State and Auburn vs. Clemson) is $3.1 million. That's about $1 million more than a WVU home game, and a larger payout than 18 bowl games.

When WVU plays James Madison at FedEx Field in September, it's guaranteed $2.3 million and could make an additional $200,000 off a ticket sales incentive. In 2016, the Mountaineers play BYU at FedEx Field and are guaranteed $2.45 million with the same $200,000 ticket sales incentive.

WVU also has only six home games scheduled for 2013, when it plays five Big 12 road games and Maryland at M&T Bank Stadium.

Still, if the Mountaineers want to get to seven home games in 2014, they could try to talk Maryland or ECU into playing at Mountaineer Field. WVU would then have to give up a future home game in the series and play that one on the road. Neither the ECU nor Maryland games for 2015 has a venue yet.

The Mountaineers and Crimson Tide never have played. WVU is 14-18-1 all-time against teams from the Southeastern Conference and won the 2006 Sugar Bowl against SEC champion Georgia at the Georgia Dome. Saban was a defensive assistant at WVU under Coach Frank Cignetti in 1978-79, Mountaineers Athletic Director Oliver Luck's first two years on campus as a quarterback.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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