Alabama-USC opener in jeopardy of being scratched; Jay Graham punished

Alabama photo by Kent Gidley / Alabama freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts came off the bench to ignite the Crimson Tide to a 52-6 shellacking of Southern California in the 2016 season opener for both teams. Alabama and USC are scheduled to open this season against one another as well.

The marquee matchup of college football's first full weekend is now very much in jeopardy of taking place.

Alabama and the University of Southern California, two tradition-rich programs that have combined for 16 national championships since 1960, are scheduled to play Sept. 5 at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

USC, however, has announced that it no longer plans to bring all undergraduate students back to campus for the fall term. The school instead will conduct most of its courses online, which reverses a university decision made during the spring.

The Los Angeles Times reported that 20% of classes at the most will be held on campus, with those courses involving certain labs, performance settings and studios.

"The once-in-a-century COVID-19 pandemic has altered every aspect of our lives - the way we interact, work and socialize - and with each new permutation of the pandemic, we must find ways to thrive," USC provost Charles Zukoski said in a released statement. "Given the continuing safety restrictions and limited densities permissible on campus, our undergraduate students primarily or exclusively will be taking their courses online in the fall term.

"On-campus housing and activities will be limited."

Alabama and USC opened the 2016 season in Arlington, with the Crimson Tide rolling to a 52-6 win.

Fisher, Graham punished

Texas A&M was placed on a one-year probation Thursday due to NCAA recruiting violations.

The NCAA reported that the violations were from January 2018 to February 2019, with the governing body citing Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher and an unnamed assistant for making impermissible contact with a recruit. That assistant was running backs coach Jay Graham, the former Tennessee running back who is currently in his first season on Jeremy Pruitt's staff in Knoxville.

Fisher and Graham were each given six-month show-cause orders, so both have been banned from all off-campus recruiting activities for the remainder of 2020 at their respective schools.

Tennessee quickly released a statement that read: "During the process of hiring coach Jay Graham, we were made aware of the circumstances at his previous institution, and we vetted it thoroughly in accordance with NCAA and SEC bylaws. We established and maintain extremely high confidence in Coach Graham's commitment to compliance and are proud to have him on our staff."

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.