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#pounditSunday, March 3, 2024

Nick Saban has 1 big complaint about proposed new SEC schedule

Nick Saban in red

Alabama coach Nick Saban looks on. Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC has been exploring the idea of moving from an eight-game to a nine-game conference schedule when Texas and Oklahoma come aboard in 2024, and Nick Saban has been in favor of that change. The Alabama coach strongly disagrees with one of the proposed methods for determining opponents, however.

The SEC currently consists of two seven-team divisions — East and West. Teams play eight total games within the conference — six against the other six teams in their division, one fixed cross-division rival, and one other cross-division game.

When Texas and Oklahoma join, the SEC plans to eliminate divisions and have teams play nine in-conference games. One proposal is an eight-game format, where teams will play one permanent opponent and seven rotating teams. The other calls for a nine-game conference schedule, where teams play three permanent opponents and six rotating.

Saban has long been a proponent of playing more in-conference games, as he believes the matchups would be more high-profile. However, he has a huge issue with one of the methods the SEC is considering using to determine those three permanent opponents. Saban told Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated that the SEC wants to use a 10-year success metric to find a fair balance of permanent opponents.

Using that metric, Alabama’s proposed permanent opponents would be Auburn, LSU and Tennessee. Saban does not approve, to say the least.

“They said they did a 10-year whatever,” Saban told Dellenger. “Well, some of those years, Tennessee wasn’t as good as they’ve been in the previous 10 years, but now they are as good as they used to be before those 10 years.

“We got three teams and two of them are in the top 10 and the other is in the top 10 a lot. Look historically over a 25-year history, and the three best teams in the East are Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. You look historically at 25 years, Alabama, LSU and Auburn are the three best teams in the West. So we’re playing them all.”

Tennessee just went 11-2 and had their best season since 2001. Saban’s point is that the 10-year metric would place too much weight on when the Volunteers were struggling and rebuilding. The 71-year-old also noted how Name, Image and Likeness rules have changed everything.

Nothing has been finalized, and Saban is one of the most powerful people in college football. It is certainly possible that his strong opinion will lead to a change in how the permanent opponents would be determined.


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