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Alabama Football: Nick Saban Wise to Support 9-Game SEC Schedule

OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 15:  Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide questions a call by the referee in a game against the Ole Miss Rebels on October 15, 2011 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
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Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 20, 2016

The nine-game SEC schedule movement got its biggest boost on Wednesday.

Alabama coach Nick Saban told reporters at a celebrity pro-am golf tournament in Birmingham, Ala. that he is in favor of changing to a nine-game conference schedule.

It's a smart move by the Crimson Tide head coach, because the nine-game schedule is coming no matter what.

Saban's support carries a ton of weight in SEC circles, and his reasoning is logical (via: AL.com).

When you increase the size of the league by 15 percent, you've almost got to play more games to get a true indication of who's the best team in the league. We should come up with some format in the future where every player in the league gets an opportunity to play every team in the league. We've kind of had that in the past. This format won't necessarily give every player an opportunity to do that.

That make sense, but competition isn't the real reason that the SEC will—at some point—move to a nine-game schedule.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 09:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide waves to the crowd after defeating Louisiana State University Tigers in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 9, 2012 in New
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

CBS and ESPN already want more compelling matchups during weeks 1, 2 and 13; and adding another conference game per team would certainly ensure that there is plenty of inventory during the SEC's traditional down weeks to appease the networks.

In order for this to work, the SEC would have to work with the ACC and Big East—which are the home conferences for teams with annual out-of-conference rivalries for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky—on scheduling. There's no way that an SEC team would sign off on having four SEC home games, one of which may be a neutral-site game, and a road out-of-conference rivalry in the same season.

The logistics of working with other conferences to ensure fair scheduling would be a nightmare. The easy answer would be to give all teams in the same division the same number of home and road conference games per season. But out-of-conference commitments make that easier said than done.

That's where Saban's logic is flawed. While more games may be required to determine a champion, there still could be an imbalance of home and road games, which will actually make it more difficult to determine the best teams.

But that's a different argument for a different day.

Whether Saban's explanation is genuine or not really doesn't matter.

He's smart to get on board with the prospect of having a nine-game conference schedule now; because it's coming, and there's nothing that he or any coach in the SEC can do about it.

 

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