Saban rings the bell for a 9-game conference schedule, talks league parity

Nick Saban has been one of the loudest proponents of – and maybe the only SEC coach in favor of – a nine-game league schedule, and he used his weekly presser as another opportunity to voice his opinion, especially with it being Tennessee week, via

“It’s important to the fans that we play the quality games,” Saban said. “I think it’s important that we keep the games that the fans are really interested in as natural rivalries. I also think it’s very important for every player to play everybody in the league in his career, which if you only play two teams from the other side, that doesn’t really happen.

“I know there’s issues with it and I understand the opposition to it, but I think we all need to think of the fans first. You’ve got to have games that people are interested in coming to see. You want to fill the stadium, and I think that’s where it all starts.”

Preserving a rivalry like Tennessee is important for Saban and Alabama, and his plan would preserve that rivalry while adding another league game.

With what’s happening around the SEC right now and with so much parity in the league, a nine-game league schedule would further add to the SEC cannibalization. Things would get even messier. Eventually, though, it will happen.

Related: The REAL reason Saban supports a nine-game schedule

Speaking of league parity, Saban said he isn’t surprised at the upsets that happened on Mayhem Saturday.

“It speaks to the very good coaching, very good programs, that we have from top to bottom in this league that everybody you play has the capabilities of beating you because of the quality of players as well as the quality of the coaching and programs that we have in this league,” he said.

“It’s no surprise to me that there’s a little bit of a changing of the guard this year. That’s why when people talk about scheduling and imbalances in scheduling, they make the assumptions that certain teams are always good.”

Bob Stoops wouldn’t agree…err, maybe he would this season.

Last year, the SEC’s bottom teams went 0-30 against the top half, but Saturday, five of those teams – Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Missouri, Auburn and Ole Miss – all won.

Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports