Nov. 16, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina closes its 2012 football season on Saturday by visiting defending national champion and the current fourth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:21 pm ET / 11:21 pm CT.
The game will also be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with airtime of 11:00 am ET / 10:00 am CT and can be heard on nine stations including locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; 920 AM WPTL in Canton; on ESPN Radio 1310 and 970 AM in Asheville/Canton; 1600 AM WTZQ in Hendersonville; 1150 AM WAVO in Charlotte/Rock Hill, S.C.; and 1270 AM WCGC in Belmont/Gaston County. Fans can also tune in online at CatamountSports.com.
Western Carolina visiting fourth-round Alabama is just one of four games on Saturday pitting the Southern Conference against teams from the Southeastern Conference (SEC). League-leaders Georgia Southern and Wofford visit in-state foes, No. 5 Georgia and No. 9 South Carolina, respectively, while Samford visits unranked Kentucky.
Saturday's game is the third all-time between the Catamounts and Crimson Tide with Alabama winning both of the previous two meetings. In 2004, the Tide cruised to a 52-0 victory, but saw a season-ending injury to starting quarterback Brodie Croyle on a torn ACL on the first series of the third quarter. The second meeting came in 2007 season-opener - Alabama's first game under head coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide handed the Catamounts a 52-6 loss in Tuscaloosa.
On a similar storyline from the 2007 meeting, the game happened to be played the same day of fellow SoCon-member Appalachian State scored a 34-32 road win over #5 Michigan in Ann Arbor. Current WCU assistant coaches Trey Elder and John Holt were players on that Mountaineer squad, and Catamount head coach Mark Speir was an assistant on ASU's staff that afternoon.
"Obviously, (Alabama) has got a great program and we're still building a program in the infant stages," said Speir. "Our big focus last week and this week has been more on Western Carolina than Alabama. We're trying to get our program better. We're going to go down to Alabama and try to play well, and have a good time with that experience."
Western Carolina wrapped-up preparations on Thursday night with a short practice session on the turf at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. The team will board the bus on Friday morning bound for Tuscaloosa, Ala., with a scheduled walk-through at Bryant-Denny on Friday afternoon.
Additional notes entering Saturday's game in Tuscaloosa;
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. ALABAMA - FAMILIAR FACES:
- WCU defensive line coach Mark Rhea played defensive line for Nick Saban while the two were at the Univ. of Toledo, winning a share of Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship in 1990 ... Rhea also worked as a graduate assistant under Saban at Michigan State from 1994-95;
- Nick Saban's first games as head coach at both LSU and Alabama came against the same opponent - Western Carolina ... In 2000, Saban guided the LSU Tigers to a 58-0 victory at Tiger Stadium in his bayou debut ... Then in 2007, Saban made his debut with the Crimson Tide with a 52-6 victory over the Catamounts.
WESTERN CAROLINA vs. TEAMS FROM THE SEC: Dating back to the 1986 season, Western Carolina is a combined, 0-13, all-time versus squads that are currently in the Southeastern Conference ... the Catamount football team has faced half - seven of the 14 teams - currently in the SEC - Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Vanderbilt ... WCU has not faced Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee or Texas A&M.
THE SOUTHERN CONFERENCE CONNECTION:
- Founded in 1921, the Southern Conference - the fifth oldest in the nation - gave rise to two of the premier conferences in America - the Southeastern (SEC, founded in 1932) and the Atlantic Coast (ACC, founded in 1952); - 11 of the current 14 SEC teams (minus Arkansas, Missouri and Texas A&M) played under the SoCon banner ... Six of those 11 SEC schools were founding members in 1921 - Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Tennessee - with five additional joining a year later in 1922 -Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vanderbilt; - Under the leadership of Wallace Wade, Alabama won three National Championships as a member of the original Southern Conference - 1925, 1926 and 1930; - From 1922 through 1932, Alabama posted a combined record of 86-18-3 as a member of the Southern Conference, including a conference record of 60-15-3 ... the Crimson Tide posted three-straight undefeated SoCon seasons from 1924 through 1926.