- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher says the Seminoles' future game with Alabama is "great for the game of college football."
Earlier this month, Florida State and Alabama reached an agreement to open the 2017 season in a neutral-site game in Atlanta after negotiations began last fall.
"We've been two of the most consistent programs in the country the last few years," Fisher told Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post. "It's a great kickoff and it's great for the game of college football."
The two schools took the game out of the hands of the BCS rankings and College Football Playoff selection committee and settled on a date and place themselves. Weekly fluctuations and the committee's view of Florida State nearly pitted Alabama and Florida State in a national semifinal. The season prior, anticipation was building for an Alabama-Florida State national championship before Auburn upset the Tide.
Fisher has prompted Florida State to step up its nonconference scheduling even further, preferring to open seasons against a strong Power 5 opponent in a neutral-site setting. He has said those games help prepare teams for the spotlight and pressure that accompany postseason contests. The Seminoles opened 2014 against Oklahoma State and travel to Orlando in 2016 to kick off their season with Ole Miss.
"It's the best preparation you have for going into a playoff game or a national championship or major bowl game," Fisher told the Palm Beach Post. "It's a major game, the hype, that atmosphere and environment. And I think it's good for college football."
One of the prominent subplots of the upcoming game is the relationship Fisher and Alabama coach Nick Saban share. Saban employed Fisher while LSU's coach -- and tried to hire him at Alabama -- and the two won a national title coaching the Tigers. They have remained close since Saban left LSU for the NFL and Fisher opted for Florida State's offensive coordinator position under then-coach Bobby Bowden.
"To be able to go against someone who you have a ton of respect for in Nick and the program in which they have just adds to it," Fisher told the Palm Beach Post.
5dEdward Aschoff and Alex Scarborough