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Alabama HC Nick Saban on 2020 CFB Season: 'I Want to Play for the Players'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2020

Alabama head coach Nick Saban argues for a call against LSU in the first half of an NCAA football game Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

Alabama head coach Nick Saban fired back at critics who believe efforts to play the 2020 college football season are financially driven. 

"Everybody acts like we want to play for the money," Saban told reporters Monday. "We want to play for the players. I want to play for the players."

The six-time national championship-winning coach said all factors, including health considerations amid the coronavirus pandemic, must be factored in to make the best decision for everyone involved.

"Now, is it more important than public safety? No, I don't think so," he said. "Is there a way that we can do that and keep people safe? I think a lot of people are trying to do that, and if we can do that, I think we can play. If we can't do that, then I think someone will make the decision that maybe we shouldn't play. But I don't think that we should not try."

Along with Bama and the SEC, teams from the ACC and Big 12 have moved forward with plans to contest college football in the fall. The Big Ten and Pac-12 postponed football until the spring, which could create logistical issues with the 2021 NFL draft scheduled to begin April 29.

Saban said the situation may warrant consideration for either a commissioner or committee to oversee the entirety of college football so all five major conferences remain on the same page in the future:

"I look at it as if it's important that we have something or someone, some organizational body who can bring everybody together. And I don't know if that's a commissioner, if it's some council. I don't know if it's a committee someplace. I really don't know the best way to do that. But I do think that it would benefit college football if the five major conferences could always sort of come together on what's best for college football.

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"I'm not saying they don't all have those intentions. They do. But sometimes they don't all sort of marry up, which is kind of the situation that we have this year."

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields started an online petition to urge the Big Ten to reverse its decision about the football season. It's received over 300,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.

There is a financial element of the entire conversation, though. UCF athletic director Danny White, whose season remains scheduled as part of the AAC, summed it up best to ESPN back in April.

"There isn't a model I can run to fix the problem of not having any football," he said. "I don't think there's anybody in my position with a big football fanbase that could make decisions to fix that. I don't know what happens—there's not a model, there's not a solution, there's not an action I can take that's going to solve that problem."

The fate of all football this season, both at the collegiate and NFL levels, will come down to strict adherence to all COVID-19 guidelines. The size of rosters means the potential exists for a widespread breakout, which underlines the importance of frequent testing to identify and isolate possible cases.

Many players seemingly want to play and coaches seemingly want to coach, but the path to a full season is a narrow one that'll probably be filled with several hurdles in the coming months.

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