Nick Saban was asked at SEC Media Days whether or not he wouldcontinue to play FCS schools in the future at Alabama. His answer was interesting:
“If we can get 10 quality opponents on our schedule — look, I’ve said this before, nobody wants to hear this, but I was in the NFL for eight years where every team you played was in the NFL. So if somebody wants to take the leadership and say, Okay, here are the five conferences that are the top conferences, and we’re going to play all our games amongst those people, I’d be fine with that. But until somebody says that, it’s going to be impossible to schedule all your games with those teams. So we will have to continue to play some of those games. Now, do I think that’s what the fans want to see? Probably not. It’s a great experience for those players that are going to have the opportunity to play at Alabama this year. It’s a great experience for them. I’m not trying to take that away from them. But I think in the world that we live in, it is impossible to schedule more than 10 games with real quality opponents. It’s very difficult. It’s very difficult from a financial business standpoint because everybody wants to play more home games for business reasons, which means financial reasons. The more games you play with quality opponents, you’re going to have to play home and home. So you’re going to have less home games. There’s a lot of issues involved in all that. It’s not all about just what the coach wants to do. It’s about the business of college football. So I don’t feel responsible to have to make that decision, so I don’t really feel comfortable answering that question.”
You’ve got to love coaches that say what they think. Saban obviously has earned a position where he can afford to say whatever he thinks regarding certain college football policies without risking much backlash.
As such, Saban answers the FCS question logically and intelligently.
The media has been crucifying schools for playing FCS opponents while completely ignoring the realities and the economics of college football. Major programs like Alabama paying FCS schools to play a game is not only a fun experience for the players at FCS programs but it’s quite necessary for the athletic budgets of these schools.
Moreover, Saban pushes back on the potential criticism by saying if college football wants to prevent FCS opponents, then it is time to redefine scheduling by re-classifying the five major conferences and ensuring such teams only play other teams within the five power conferences.
No college football teams play twelve high quality opponents, and you can keep your “We played 12 bowl eligible teams in 2012!” line to yourself. Bowl eligibility means nothing. Alabama could line up against four blind schools and still rank in the upper echelon of strength of schedule as a result of playing in the SEC. Adding a ninth and tenth quality opponent is plenty sufficient.
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