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Despite being a fan of a four-team playoff, Alabama coach Nick Saban isn’t a fan of rewarding four conference champions with playoff spots. The idea, initially floated by former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, has been endorsed by Pac 12 Commissioner Larry Scott and has received substantial media attention as college football power brokers negotiate a new post-season deal.
Today Saban, appearing at a Jason Foundation luncheon in Nashville, shot down the idea of conference champions making up the four-team playoff.
Asked by OKTC what his thoughts were on a four team conference champion playoff, Saban replied:
“I don’t think there’s a parity in college football like there is in the NFL, where you can make a statement like that. No disrespect to any conference, but there are conferences that are in the BCS that if they played in the SEC their champion may be in fourth or fifth place. So because there’s not a parity, I don’t think it’s fair to make a statement like that.”
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Roy Kramer and all commissioners of major conferences in the country. No disrespect to anyone. I disagree with that. If you’re one of the two best teams you should be able to play in the game and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to get back in the game this year and I think we proved with our performance that we should have been in the game.”
Saban also endorsed another idea that could gain some headway moving forward — the idea of using the money generated by a college football playoff to pay all athletes a larger stipend.
“I’d like to see the money that gets made from this four-team playoff go back to the players,” Saban said. “I think we should definitely do something to improve the quality of life of all student athletes, whether you’re a women’s softball player or a men’s baseball player, I think all scholarship athletes should be entitled to the same quality of life.”
Saban’s comments on conference champions receiving an automatic bid to the four-team playoff are likely to cause a bit of a stir because prior to OKTC’s question he had not previously commented on the idea floated by Roy Kramer. Saban’s opinion is likely one that is shared by all SEC coaches and, significantly, SEC commissioner Mike Slive who has not publicly commented thus far on the idea of four conference champions advancing to the playoff.
And his contention that some other BCS conference champions would finish fourth or fifth in the SEC will probably get non-SEC football fans in a tizzy.
But Saban’s opposition to a four-team conference champion playoff is a sound one.
Especially since under a four-team conference champion playoff Alabama wouldn’t have been eligible to play for the title last year.
And after watching Alabama destroy LSU in the BCS title game can anyone really dispute that Alabama was the best team in the country last year?
Even Auburn fans agree with this.
In fact, putting four conference champions in a playoff is likely to be worse than the present BCS system.
That’s why Nick Saban is completely right to become one of the first major college football figures to oppose it.