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September 26, 2013

Alabama-Michigan State series canceled

The University of Alabama's home-and-home series with Michigan State has been canceled per Alabama's request, an Alabama official confirmed Thursday afternoon.

Alabama was scheduled to host Michigan State in 2016 with the Crimson Tide returning the game in East Lansing, Mich., the following season.

The Detroit Free Press first reported the series cancellation, with Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis writing in a text message, "Alabama requested to cancel the series due to uncertainty with the SEC schedule. While disappointed, in the spirit of collegiality, we agree to the request."

Alabama athletic director Bill Battle released the following statement: "Michigan State graciously granted our request to cancel the games previously scheduled for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. We made the request due to the uncertainty of the conference football schedule in those years. We are very appreciative of Michigan State's willingness to grant that request."

The cancellation seems to suggest the Southeastern Conference's move to a nine-game league schedule.

The Tuscaloosa News has learned that Alabama is working on a netural-site game in 2016 with a "big-name opponent."

Alabama plays West Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in 2014 and the following season play Wisconsin in Cowboys Stadium.

UA coach Nick Saban addressed the situation during his weekly radio show.

"We would love to have played or been able to play a series of games with Michigan State," he said. "But I think what sort of precipitated this circumstance was the fact that our schedule is so up in the air in the future relative to are we going to play nine games in the SEC, eight games in the SEC, what are going to do with all these sort of neutral-site games that we've sort of gotten into playing one every year, which continues to be an option for us in the future.

"I mean we play West Virginia next year in Atlanta. We play Wisconsin the next year in Dallas. And those games are something are players really enjoy, and from a business standpoint, a financial standpoint, much more beneficial than playing home and home with someone because we get paid every year, not just the year we play at home. So it's twice as good when it comes to a business standpoint. I think even though emotionally in my heart and for all the good relationships that we have at Michigan State we'd have loved to play that series, it probably doesn't make very good business sense to hang on to it right now relative to some of the other options and question marks that we have relative to the future."

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.

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