Nick Saban Lives In Our Reality: Playoffs Make Bowls Less Relevant

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Don’t misunderstand, Nick Saban is just fine with Alabama continuing to play for national championships. But he reiterated his stance that he’s not a big fan of the College Football Playoff format, as currently arranged.

“I’ve always been one that bowl games and playoffs are going to have a tough time coexisting together,” Saban told Bryant McFadden and Patrick Petersen on the All Things Covered podcast. “Bowl games have always been a positive thing for college football players because a lot of people get a lot of self-gratification for having a good season.

“Maybe you didn’t win a championship or whatever, but you get a chance to go to a good bowl game and have some fun. It’s a really good, positive reinforcement for college football players.”

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.

Saban’s most recent comments echoed something he said about the CFP last month on the Rich Eisen Show.

“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 in February. “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.”

Eventually, you would think the CFP would begin exploring the idea of expanding beyond just four teams.

“You don’t even hear about the other games and all that stuff,” Saban said on All Things Covered. “That’s always been my issue with the playoff is that bowl games sort of get put on the back shelf. If we want to expand the playoffs, that’s OK. I don’t think you can have bowl games and do that as well. I’ve always been one that, if we are going to have playoffs, why don’t we make the bowl games a part of that.”

Written by Sam Amico

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


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  1. I agree with Saban. The playoffs increased attention on the playoff. The problem was it took that attention away from the rest of the great bowls. New attention wasn’t generated. That’s not good for the sport as a whole. Parity has all but vanquished. We already know who’s got a realistic chance next year, and the next, and that’s not changing soon. College football has basically turned into women’s college basketball in regards to parity. 3-4 teams have a shot; 1-2 realistically. Period. Boring.

    Bowls use to mean a LOT. Now, if you don’t make the playoffs you’re an afterthought to media. You’re treated as a failure if you’re not the champion. That’s terribly confusing to kids when everything college sports teaches goes AGAINST that thinking. If winning it all is your main goal it might sound nice for a movie script, but you’re completely delusional. It’s about playing as well as YOU and your TEAM can, and letting the results speak for themselves. That may be 12-0 or it may be 6-6. Yet win a title or fail is the media opinion now. That’s crackhead thinking. It’s going to kill the sport.

    The playoff thinking came from trying to shoehorn college football into a successful nfl playoff structure. The problem is that if you understand college football you also know it is not like pro football at all. College football is about pageantry, history, rivalry, school pride, family and tradition. The NFL’s not about that; it’s about fame and glory. You can’t just copy-paste an NFL mindset over all that college football is in its essence.

    I believe the NCAA, big schools and big conferences got hyper-focused solely on money. It has turned on them – mutating into total greed, like always. Greed will kill anything it touches eventually, because you get tunnel vision. Here’s how it will destroy the NCAA. They have made it ALL about generating more money, and more attention, like a private business. So guess who else thinks about it like a private business now? The free labor they rely on called the players. Universities and the NCAA have tried shutting down the pay conversation with the strategy of condescension for 20 years, telling players not to think about making money…like they do. Ooookay. That’s like a parent drinking a handle of Jim Beam while lecturing their kid not to drink between sips. This is going to become a big problem for college football soon.

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