Alabama Coach Nick Saban: Making Sure the Best Four Teams Make the Playoff Should Be the Number One Priority

This should come as no surprise, but Alabama football coach Nick Saban thinks the new four-team playoff should include the best four teams in college football regardless of whether they win their conference. It would be much more shocking if Saban, whose Alabama team faced fellow SEC foe LSU in the title game last year, said the exact opposite, but he didn’t. Saban says the number one priority of the new playoff system should be making sure that it gets the best four teams in the country. Never short on opinions, he also says the new 12-team SEC conference should make sure that every player faces every other team in the league at least once in their career. Nick Saban joined WHB in Kansas City with T.J. Carpenter to discuss the possibility of a nine-game SEC schedule, the strength of the league right now, the four-team playoff and keeping his team from getting a big head despite all of its recent success.

On the possibility of a nine-game schedule with the SEC:

“It’s one thing that I sort of tried to promote when we had our SEC meetings in the spring is, I think the number one priority should be: All players play all teams in their career in the SEC and not be so division-oriented. We can do that a lot of different ways. You can play one less game in your division, three on the other side, keep your natural rival. But if we don’t rotate two teams from the other side, some kind of way, it’s not going to happen. And right now it’s not happening.”

Is this the strongest the SEC’s ever been?:

“Our league has been strong. I think when you add two really quality universities, quality schools, quality athletic programs and quality football teams to that, it sets a new precedent for the depth and quality of the league. It’s not really fair to make comparisons, but I think we’re going to have more good teams in the league this year than we’ve ever had before.”

Do you think that having two SEC teams in the national championship game led to the new four-team playoff?:

“I think the major impact has always been when there’s three teams that can make a case for getting in the game and they don’t all get in. It happened in 2003 when I was at LSU, Southern Cal got left out. It happened with Auburn being undefeated and they didn’t get the opportunity to be in the game. I think there’s always a lot of noise out there amongst the fans, and rightfully so, when they don’t necessarily get the opportunity to see the two best teams play. And that’s why I’m so strong on the fact that we need to make sure that however we do this, the best four teams get in this, not the conference champs. I think people want to see the best teams compete. So whatever the format is … I think that should be the number one priority.”

On keeping level heads at Alabama despite all the success:

“I think the most important thing is success can have two effects. It can make you relax and make you look back and think about what you did and become complacent. Or it can be a little addictive to in that you want to keep going, keep improving. That’s what we tried to emphasize with our players. It’s difficult because human nature says you’re allowed to take a break when you have success and that’s something you can’t allow yourself to do.”

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