Saban’s way

Offers direction for college football

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When Alabama’s Nick Saban speaks, people tend to listen.

<p class="indent">Six national championships gives him a powerful podium.

<p class="indent">And if he had his way, teams in the Southeastern Conference and the other Power Five conferences would play games only among themselves.

<p class="indent">The SEC would also play nine conference games instead of eight.

<p class="indent">More?

<p class="indent">He worries that any expansion of the four-team College Football Playoff would further diminish the bowl games.

<p class="indent">The observations came Wednesday when Saban addressed SEC Media Days in Atlanta, which is always the highlight of the event.

<p class="indent">His desire for schools to play nine conference games, which the Big 12 and Pac-12 already do, was in direct opposition to what SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said two days earlier was the preference of the schools.

<p class="indent">“But I’ve always been an advocate of playing nine or 10 SEC games and a couple other games against some other good opponents that everybody would be happy to watch,” Saban said.

<p class="indent">Preferably the “other” games would be against other Power Five conference schools, he said.

<p class="indent">His point was that the fans and players deserve it.

<p class="indent">“We (can) have more really, really good games on TV for the players,” he said. “We can’t have fans who pay a lot of money for tickets and boxes and logos, who support our programs, to pay for games that no one is interested in watching.”

<p class="indent">Alabama will open the season Sept. 1 against Louisville in Orlando, Florida. The neutral-site games have become quite a trend, particularly among high-profile teams. LSU will open on Sept. 2 in Arlington, Texas, against Miami, the seventh time in nine years the Tigers have played their opener at a neutral site.

<p class="indent">“Neutral-site games really launched our program in Alabama when we first came there,” Saban said. “But I think philosophically we’re sort of changing our thoughts on that and our future scheduling and trying to get into more home and homes.”

<p class="indent">Again, he said, he thought fans paying top dollar deserved better for their true home games.

<p class="indent">All, in his mind, should be against other Power Five schools.

<p class="indent">“I think it would help us determine who should be in the playoffs,” Saban said. “And you might not have to go undefeated to get into the playoffs, because there would be more games against high-quality opponents, which would help determine who the best teams are.”

<p class="indent">It might not solve the mild controversy of last year, when a one-loss Tide team won the national championship without even winning its conference division title.

<p class="indent">Central Florida didn’t make the playoffs despite an undefeated regular season. UCF was ridiculed in some circles for claiming a national championship to the point of making up a trophy.

<p class="indent">“I have tremendous amount of compassion for UCF and what they accomplished this year going undefeated,” Saban said. “I’m not responsible for the system that determines who gets in the playoffs. But I think they did a good job of determining who got in the playoffs, and we can have another discussion about the future of the playoffs and how many teams should get in the playoffs.”

<p class="indent">Expanding it, however, isn’t the answer, he said.

<p class="indent">“You’re going to minimize the effect of bowl games, which I stood up here 10 years ago and said, as soon as we do this (start playoffs), it’s going to diminish bowl games, the importance of bowl games,” Saban said. “Everybody would just be interested in the playoffs.

<p class="indent">“Well, that’s where we are right now. I mean, we have players choosing not to play in bowl games because it’s not important because they’re going to save themselves for the draft. All of these things are not good for college football.”

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<strong>‘I’ve always been an advocate of playing nine or 10 SEC games and a couple other games against some other good opponents that everybody would be happy to watch.’</strong>

<strong>Nick Saban</strong>

Alabama coach on keeping college football competitive and interesting

””<p>NCAA college football head coach Nick Saban of Alabama speaks during the Southeastern Conference Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (AP Photo/John Amis)</p>John Amis

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