During a conversation with Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, Saban voiced displeasure about the level of competition the Crimson Tide would be taking on year in and year out. “I’ve always been an advocate for playing more [conference] games,” he said. “But if you play more games, I think you have to get the three fixed [opponents] right. They’re giving us Tennessee, Auburn and LSU. I don’t know how they come to that [decision].”
Saban didn’t agree with the SEC formulating their proposals based on a 10-year period considering two of the teams Alabama would play, Tennessee and LSU, are currently top 10 programs. “They said they did a 10-year whatever,” Saban said. “Well, some of those years, Tennessee wasn’t as good as they’ve been in the previous 10 years, but now they are as good as they used to be before those 10 years.”
Nick Saban: Alabama Would Face Three Top Six SEC Teams
Saban’s main issue with the proposed post-SEC realignment schedule structure is that Alabama would be getting three of the top six SEC programs every season.
“We got three teams and two of them are in the top 10 and the other is in the top 10 a lot,” Saban said. “Look historically over a 25-year history, and the three best teams in the East are Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. You look historically at 25 years, Alabama, LSU and Auburn are the three best teams in the West. So we’re playing them all.”
Over the 25-year span Saban mentioned, Tennessee, Auburn, and LSU have won four national championships, while LSU also lays claim for a shared championship in 2003 with USC — a championship Saban coached the Tigers to during his time as head coach in Baton Rouge.
Nick Saban on the Evolution of Recruiting
Saban likes the idea of there being more in-conference games on the schedule. He just doesn’t like that the programs expected to most benefit from the evolution of recruiting in the post-COVID NIL college football world would be Alabama’s fixed opponents.
“Now you’ve got name, image and likeness, which changes that whole dynamic, because it’s who has the most money to pay players, until they change the rules,” Saban said. “I like playing more SEC games. I think it’s good for the game and good for the fans. I think they have a better chance to get the parity right doing the eight games. I’m talking about the balance of who has who.”
Saban is sure to have plenty of critics accusing him of being afraid of competition, but he does have a notable media voice in agreement with him. CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee backed Saban’s take that there should be balance in a revamped SEC schedule. “Saban is 100% right; there has to be some semblance of fairness,” Sallee wrote. “If the SEC is going to eliminate divisions, then it truly needs to eliminate divisions. Keep the necessary rivalries and then throw the rest in a hat. If that means that a game like LSU-Alabama isn’t played on an annual basis, it won’t be the end of the world because they’ll still play every other season. That, in some cases, could lead to even more anticipation for teams looking for revenge.”