Alabama's Nick Saban on SEC, Big Ten Expansion: 'Megaconferences' Here to Stay

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 12, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JANUARY 10: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after the Georgia Bulldogs scores a touchdown in the third quarter during the 2022 CFP National Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said on the Always College Football podcast Monday with ESPN commentator and ex-Crimson Tide quarterback Greg McElroy that he believes "megaconferences" are here to stay in the wake of USC and UCLA's moves to the Big Ten.

The seven-time national champion spoke about how conference shuffling has led to long-standing rivalries (e.g. Oklahoma vs. Nebraska) ending before noting that this new era will have some staying power (h/t ESPN's Alex Scarborough).

"But I think we're going to deal with it in a greater capacity than ever before because I think megaconferences are probably here to stay," Saban said. "Market share, there's a lot of that involved in why we're doing what we're doing."

Alabama and the rest of the SEC will notably be adding long-standing Big 12 powers Oklahoma and Texas into the conference in 2025. That will turn the SEC into a 16-team league, matching the future size of the Big Ten when it brings USC and UCLA into the fold.

As far as further expansion goes, though, the SEC isn't planning to do anything more for now, per Matt Hayes of Saturday Down South.

"We’re positioned at 16 (teams) for a robust future," an SEC athletic director told Hayes. "The need just isn’t there."

It also appears the Big Ten will be standing pat at 16 teams as well.

"I know the Big Ten has taken calls, and they inform us when they take calls just so we have a general idea," Iowa athletic director Gary Barta told reporters.

"If I were predicting, I’m not predicting that we would be adding any more in the near future. We’ll see."

The future college sports conference landscape has changed drastically over the past two years with these last few moves, and it's certainly possible more moves occur.

For now, the Big Ten and SEC have emerged as the clear titans of college sports, leaving conferences such as the Big 12 and Pac-12 in scramble mode. The Big 12 already plans to add BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF into the mix, while the Pac-12 has made it clear that it is looking to expand.