Alabama’s Nick Saban Questions College Football Playoff Format

Alabama coach Nick Saban has won seven national championships, including one this past season, but that doesn’t mean he has to like the College Football Playoff format.

“Way back when we decided to have two teams, pick the best two teams and let the play in a championship game, and everybody wanted to expand to four teams, it was my comment then that if we expand to four teams and have a playoff, everything is going to be about the playoff,” Saban said on the Rich Eisen Show. “All the media interest, everything is going to be about the playoff. The shows they do all year, the shows like who gets into the NCAA Basketball Tournament, that’s what it’s going to be.

“All the other bowl games and teams that had good seasons but didn’t quite get there, the interest in what they do in the offseason is going to be diminished. And that is exactly what’s happened.”

Twenty-two of the 28 bids for the four-team playoff have gone to just five teams — Alabama (6), Clemson (6), Oklahoma (4), Ohio State (4) and Notre Dame (2). Alabama and Clemson have combined for five of the seven titles. So it’s safe to say that the CFP has been lacking in the parity department.

“So I just wonder sometimes if having a Playoff and bowl games — and that was the unique thing about bowl games in college football, a lot of players got self-gratification for having good seasons,” Saban said. “They got to go to a bowl game, their families, the program, everything sort of got some positive self-gratification of what they were able to accomplish, even though they weren’t national championship caliber or Playoff caliber.

“Now that’s all been diminished a little bit. You just wonder to yourself, ‘Can Playoff and bowl games co-exist, or should we just have more teams in the Playoff?’ I’m not saying I’m for it or against it. I think that’s the question people need to answer.”

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.

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  1. He is definitely not wrong. How teams and players just shut it down if they do not get that space in the playoffs is only getting worse. Add in 400 participation trophy level bowl games and you start to see how the spark after week 10 loses its luster. I was never a fan of the playoff system in college, but here we are with fans thinking the playoffs need to expand when the reality is, the idea needs to be tossed entirely. It has already proven itself a failure because the broad spectrum of folks not happy with the BCS has not shrunk with the addition of the playoffs. It is painful to see what the sport has become.

    • March Madness is what it is because every year a handful of Cinderella’s make it to the Sweet 16 or better. We need the same thing in football, with maybe 32 teams. But, play only two quarters. We’d have a three week tournament. Play two ‘games’ per weekend. There would be upsets in the shorter games. And every game would be important because of that one-and-done, David-and-Goliath scenario. Give that a shot and watch the frenzy kick up.

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