In making the announcement Friday, Atlanta officials said the
game is intended to launch a tradition of season openers at the
Georgia Dome. The Alabama-Clemson game will be televised on ESPN or
ABC and organized by Atlanta's Chick-fil-A Bowl staff.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl matches teams from the Atlantic Coast
Conference and Southeastern Conference, and bowl president Gary
Stokan said the plan is to select teams from those conferences for
future season-opening games at the Georgia Dome, a neutral site.
Auburn beat Clemson 23-20 in overtime in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on
Monday night. Clemson will return for its second consecutive game
in the Georgia Dome and will play three straight games against
teams now in the SEC for the first time since 1925. Clemson closed
its regular season by beating South Carolina.
The last time Clemson played Alabama was 1975, and the 56-0 rout
was the Crimson Tide's 11th straight win in the series.
"Do you happen to have the score from that last game?" Clemson
coach Tommy Bowden said Friday. "It's not a rivalry."
Stokan said his committee initially worked to try to bring a
second, smaller bowl game to Atlanta, but he said the goal turned
to a season-opening game when the NCAA approved a 12th
He said a coin flip determined Clemson will be the home team.
SEC officials will be used.
"For Alabama to be able to play in Atlanta is certainly
something we look forward to," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said.
"It's great for national exposure and great for recruiting."
Alabama and Clemson each adjusted its 2008 schedule to
accommodate the game in Atlanta.
"This is a one-game stand, so it needed to be on a neutral
site," said Alabama athletic director Mal Moore, who showed in
2007 his willingness to play a game at a neutral site.
Florida State beat Alabama 21-14 in Jacksonville on Sept. 29
before a Jacksonville-record crowd of 85,412.
Stokan didn't announce a guaranteed payout for each team but
said it should be comparable to the $2 million earned by Alabama
and Florida State for the game in Jacksonville.
Alabama and Clemson will each receive about 33,000 tickets,
according to Stokan.