AUBURN, Ala. — For the first time in 21 years, the Iron Bowl will be played on a Friday.
CBS Sports announced Friday that the 2009 and 2010 Auburn-Alabama football games will be moved to the day after Thanksgiving and televised nationally.
This year’s game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn will be played Nov. 27 at 2:30 p.m. The 2010 meeting will take place on Nov. 26 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa at a time to be determined.
“The Iron Bowl is the best rivalry in college football and the conference and CBS moving it to Friday will signify the kickoff of college football’s biggest weekend,” Tigers coach Gene Chizik said.
It’s the first major change to the game since the conference’s athletic directors voted two years ago to require all teams to play on Thanksgiving weekend, preventing Auburn and Alabama from scheduling a bye the week before the SEC championship game, something they had done since 1993.
Not everybody was in favor of the switch to Friday. Alabama athletic director Mal Moore expressed concern for the fans. Moving the contest to Friday complicates travel arrangements so close to Thanksgiving and pits the game against what is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
“Obviously, this is a great exposure opportunity for us with it being televised nationally by CBS,” Moore told the Associated Press. “Whenever a game is moved off of Saturday it can present advantages or disadvantages, depending on a lot of factors.
“We’re sympathetic to the needs of our fan base, so we understand this may cause some issues with travel or other considerations.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban had his own reservations but saw some advantages in the switch.
“I really wasn’t for moving the game, to be honest with you, to Friday,” he told the AP. “I like to play it on Saturday. I’m glad the game is on CBS. I think it’s great exposure for both schools, and certainly for our state. So that’s a very positive thing.”
The game has been played on a Friday five times, the last occasion coming in 1988, a 15-10 Auburn victory in Birmingham. The other years were 1987, 1974, 1903 and 1901.