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Nick Saban Smart to Publicly Back Auburn for National Title Berth

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 19:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during pregame warmups prior to facing the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2013

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban fully supports a one-loss SEC team playing in the 2013 BCS National Championship—and is smart to do so.

Given the circumstances, said SEC team would not be the No. 4 Crimson Tide barring a miracle.

Rather, it would be the No. 3 Auburn Tigers of Iron Bowl infamy.

Saban joined ESPN College GameDay on Championship Saturday in Indianapolis to prep for the Big Ten Championship game between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 10 Michigan State.

As expected, Saban was asked his thoughts on the title picture. According to Michael Casagrande of AL.com, the old ball coach had an eyebrow-raising reply:

Well, I really do believe that since Auburn beat us, if they win the SEC Championship Game, they certainly deserve the opportunity to play in the national championship game. That's what I think...That's not to take anything away from anyone else, but that's just how I feel relative to our circumstance in our league.

That one has to sting for the Crimson Tide faithful. After all, it was just last weekend Auburn's Chris Davis returned a missed-Alabama field goal with one second remaining a total of 109 yards for a touchdown to ruin the Crimson Tide's shot at a title.

Then again, most fans should have nodded with a sly grin of approval. There was Saban, deep in Big Ten country—enemy territory—backing his conference despite the logistics.

The logistics of the soon-to-be-defunct BCS say the Buckeyes, barring a loss against the Spartans, will play No. 1 Florida State in the title game.

But entering the week, Ohio State sat at .9503, with Auburn right behind at .9233. As Saban surely knows, that gap is not insurmountable—even if both teams win Saturday.

Saban's words are not just limited to backing his conference. While he is obviously influential and has the nation's attention, there is a miniscule chance his team may slip back into the title conversation.

Of course, it would take a doomsday scenario. Ohio State would have to lose, and No. 5 Missouri would have to upend Auburn (perhaps the most likely). Most of all, No. 20 Duke would somehow have to overcome No. 1 Florida State.

It only makes sense the final year of the BCS—which gives way to a playoff the Crimson Tide would be a part of if this were next year—ends in complete chaos…just not that much.

Right?

Whether Saban likes it or not, his argument also holds weight in the case against the Buckeyes, should they move past Michigan State.

Urban Meyer's team has won 24 straight, but as College GameDay and ESPN point out, the Buckeyes have encountered little resistance on that path (cue conference wars in the comments):

Perhaps Saban was just truly exercising good sportsmanship. Even so, his comments are smart as they highlight how a season can be ruined in one second in an archaic, nonsensical system, and how much more difficult the path to a title can be for SEC teams.

Regardless of the outcome on Championship Saturday, Saban's comments ring true on multiple fronts and help to further illustrate issues hopefully put to bed next year with the implementation of a playoff.

Until then, praise or chastise Saban while another chaotic collegiate football season comes to its wild conclusion.

 

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