Auburn and Alabama, as you may already be aware, don't always get along. Or, more accurately, under no circumstances get along.
But it turns out that when their conference parents at the SEC ask (or demand), they can occasionally play nice. That's the lesson to learn from the Tigers' just-announced late-season 2011 schedule adjustment :
For the first time since 1963, the Tigers won't play Georgia and Alabama in back-to-back games; Auburn slipped in Samford to split them up.The alteration will no doubt stick in the craw of Auburn fans who will see the league (and potentially the Auburn administration) as having caved to the Crimson Tide's demands. Not only had Alabama filed the grievance regarding the bye-week problem, but Nick Saban had specifically, vocally griped (or from the Auburn perspective, "whined") about the Tigers enjoying an off week before the Iron Bowl. (The Tide also countered in 2010 by scheduling first-year FCS program Georgia State for the week before, and moving the game to Thursday night ... giving them the closest thing to a bye without actually having one.) "If Alabama wanted the change, and Auburn didn't, why is the league taking their side?" is how the orange-and-blue argument will certainly go.
Also, the change means AU's open date will fall before Georgia and not before Alabama. The SEC sought changes because six league teams enjoyed open dates before playing the Crimson Tide last season. Auburn agreed to work with the league, switching where Samford fell on the schedule.
But there's also little doubt that something had to be done about Alabama's bye-week problem -- it didn't hurt their case that all three of their 2010 losses came to teams that had enjoyed the extra week of preparation -- and of the six teams that asked for a pre-Tide bye in 2010, clearly only a couple would get the same indulgence in 2011. The SEC decided Auburn wasn't one of those teams. In the end, there's not that much room for complaint, particularly since both teams (who'll square off against FCS competition the week before) will still enter the 2011 Iron Bowl on equal footing.
It's Auburn and Alabama, though. Whether it's fans, head coaches, administrators, whoever: there's going to be complaining.