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Tuesday, May 29, 2012
SEC spring meetings Day 1 notes

By Edward Aschoff

DESTIN, Fla. – Alabama coach Nick Saban hasn’t held back from talking about his disdain for placing only conference champions in a four-team playoff. He’s very much for a four-team playoff, but he won’t go for one that alienates teams by only picking the top four conference champions.

The whole reason any of this playoff talk even started is because people outside of the game are passionate about seeing one in college football. To take away the chance for the four BEST teams to play makes no sense to Saban.

“There’s no question that we’re even doing the top four because fans and the people who are interested in college football are interested in seeing the best four teams play in a playoff,” Saban said  Tuesday at the 2012 SEC spring meetings.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban
A four-team playoff shouldn't be limited to conference champions, Alabama head coach Nick Saban reiterated.
“Now, we’re going to mess that up by saying you have to be a conference champion. I think somebody’s a bit self-absorbed and worrying about how it affects them and how they can best get somebody in the (national championship) all the time, rather than getting the best four teams. I don’t think that’s fair to the fans and the people who really have made it known that they want to see the four best teams play in a playoff.

“The bigger these conferences get the better chance you have to have two very good teams in that.”

Saban didn’t go as far as to name names, but anyone paying attention to all of this playoff talk knows he’s talking about Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who has been extremely outspoken about having only conference champions represented in a four-team playoff and has taken a few shots at Alabama and its 2011 title along the way.

Saban went a bit further during an interview with SECSports.com:
"It's self-absorbed people who are worried about how it affects their circumstance or their league rather than what's best for college football who would want to do that," Saban said. "It's not what's best for the fans because they've made it very clear what they want it to be."

"People want to see the best four teams play in a playoff. The problem in college football is there's not equal parity in the leagues. Some leagues are stronger than others in different years. It's not always going to be where the SEC is stronger than another league. There's going to be years when other leagues are stronger than the SEC. It's not an SEC thing. History in recent years would say that, but that's how it's been all the way through.

"I think you're going to get a lot of real complaining if we have a four-team playoff and we go through all this that we're going through to try to implement this and execute it and, all of a sudden, next year we have the No. 1 team, the No. 3 team, the No. 7 team and the No. 11 team being the four teams in the playoffs. There's going to be a mutiny on the ship, there's no question about that."

Saban isn’t alone, as many of the other SEC coaches agreed with getting rid of the conference champs idea. SEC commissioner Mike Slive continued to plug a four-team playoff that takes the four best and continued to say he won’t support a plus-one model, either.

“It’s going to allow access in a way that the plus-one does not allow access,” Slive said. “It’s better for college football as a whole than just the plus-one.”

Other notes from Slive: