Nick Saban Says College Football Playoff Games Scheduled Too Close Together

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2018

Alabama head coach Nick Saban walks through practice for the upcoming Sugar Bowl, which will be one of the CFP semi-final games, against Clemson, in New Orleans, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban made it one day before finding something to complain about after his team was victorious, 24-6, in the 2018 Sugar Bowl over the Clemson Tigers.

Saban said Tuesday he believes the NCAA should allow for an extra travel day between the College Football Playoff semifinals and the CFP National Championship.

"Someone has to think about the players and not what's convenient for the media or TV," he said, per ESPN.com's Alex Scarborough.

The time between the semifinal and national title game isn't dissimilar from the regular season. Alabama will face off with the Georgia Bulldogs on Jan. 8, exactly one week after the teams played in the semifinals.

Saban elaborated how the preparations during bowl season are far different from the rest of the year, per AL.com's Rainer Sabin:

"I just think that it's a little bit different when you're playing in the season and you go to a game on Friday, you play on Saturday, you come home after the game. The players are kind of off on Sunday or some people do it differently and give them off on Monday and then you start the new week on Monday. But when you go to a bowl game and you're there for a week, it's really kind of hard to pack up and leave at 1 o'clock in the morning to get home."

Saban's complaints carry some merit. Eight full days separated the semifinals and playoff final in 2017, and the gap was 10 days in 2015 and 2016.

A quirk in the calendar is partly to blame for the relatively short turnaround. The second Monday of January has become the date for the national championship in recent years, and that day happens to fall earlier than usual in 2018.

But the problem with pushing the national championship back even further is that it potentially puts more academic strain on the players. Classes for the spring semester don't begin at Alabama until Jan. 10, but the semester starts Jan. 4 at Georgia.

Moving the playoff semifinals up would arguably be a better option, but then that would mean abandoning New Year's Eve, which has become synonymous with some of the most prestigious postseason bowls.

Of course, finding the right balance between giving players enough time off and wrapping the season up in a timely manner would be even more difficult were the NCAA to expand the playoff to eight teams, which may be inevitable given how successful the playoff has been so far.

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