Nick Saban: SEC deserves credit
DESTIN, Fla. -- With the College Football Playoff to start in 2014, Alabama coach Nick Saban wants to make sure the SEC gets its due regarding strength of schedule within the league.
Saban said Tuesday prior to the start of the SEC spring meetings that he's not sure this has been the case under the old system.
There were six [SEC] teams in the top 10 at the end of the [regular] season. All six of those teams could make some argument for playing in the national championship game. They really could. Now, did anybody give anybody enough credit for that?" -- Nick Saban on the SEC deserving more credit for its in-conference strength of schedule
"We talk about trying to create some kind of strength of schedule [formula]. That's difficult to do," Saban said. "We had six [SEC] teams at the end of the [regular] season last year in the top 10, and other teams are vying to get into the championship game.
"And then to think that the team that loses our championship game wouldn't have gotten into the Final Four if we'd had one. I mean, that's not a strength-of-schedule consideration at all. It's taking how many games you lose into consideration. If we all played more good opponents, you could lose more games and still have a chance to get recognized as being a good team."
Saban, whose Crimson Tide have won three of the past four national championships, wants to see the SEC go from eight to nine conference games.
But in doing so, he said SEC teams shouldn't be penalized by the selection committee just because they lose more games.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive said he has had "healthy" discussions with league coaches and athletic directors about expanding the conference schedule to nine games.
"I certainly don't believe we'll come to any closure here, but my hope is that everybody who has a view will weigh in on the discussion and share with everybody here and we'll see where we are by Friday as to what the next step is," Slive said. "Obviously, it's an important issue and it's one that we're going to give a lot of thought to."
LSU coach Les Miles said he wants to see a more balanced schedule that eliminates permanent cross-divisional games.
"I think you should play everybody in your conference, and I don't think it's difficult to do," he said.
Saban emphasized the SEC does not receive enough credit for its strength of schedule within the league.
"Not when six teams are in the top 10," he said. "All six of those teams could make some argument for playing in the national championship game. They really could. Now, did anybody give anybody enough credit for that?
"Georgia didn't even get in a BCS game. How ridiculous is that? And we probably wouldn't have gotten in one had they beaten us."
In fact, Alabama likely would have been left out of the BCS National Championship Game this past season had Ohio State, which went 12-0, not been on NCAA probation and ineligible for the postseason.
"That's exactly right, and how well would they have done had they played the six [SEC] teams that were ranked in the top 10?" said Saban, whose Crimson Tide routed Notre Dame 42-14 in the national title game. "Would they have beaten them all? Would they have beaten three of them?
"I think they have a really good team, and I think Urban [Meyer] is a great coach. I'm not questioning any of that. I'm just saying that's where the strength of schedule and who you play doesn't get accounted for quite equally."
Slive agreed that the SEC has a superior strength of schedule due to in-conference play.
"Scheduling is a collection of different elements," Slive said. "Each one of these elements has to be analyzed, dissected, thought about, and you're trying to make sure there are no unintended consequences if the league was interested in changing."
Saban said there wouldn't be as much pressure on the selection committee to pick the four best teams if everybody played more quality opponents.
"Performance has something to do with good teams," Saban said. "A good team has to be able to play well every week, not get up and play for one game, one big game."
ESPN.com's Edward Aschoff contributed to this report.
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