Having been a head coach in the Big Ten and the SEC, you’d think Nick Saban knows a little something about the passion of the fans, the backbone of what the SEC is really built on.

Saban was recently in Ohio for a fundraiser, and he fielded some questions from the audience. The one that created headlines centered around how long it would take the Big Ten to catch up to the SEC. Saban, always being politically correct, answered appropriately, with an inference on recruiting.

“I think you have great high school football here in Ohio, but there’s a lot of really good players in the Southeast and I think there’s a lot of passion for those players, and as that league has accomplished a lot of success through the years, more and more people on a national basis want to come there,” Saban said. “So it’s created a real competitive conference. But I think the Big Ten has great institutions and are certainly capable of all those things and I think you almost have to nationally recruit in this day and age.”

Saban later went on to say he thinks the Big Ten is ‘a really good conference’, and he added that you can quote him on that.

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But the most interesting point Saban made during the fundraiser was about the difference between the average SEC fan and average Big Ten fan, and he explains why SEC fans are so passionate.

“Everybody grows up a college football fan,” Saban said. “There’s no Cincinnati Bengals fans. There’s no Cleveland Dawg Pound. There’s no other choice for people in terms of how they grew up. So that passion for athletics, especially football, is really, really strong. In the Southeast, the school is still the center of a lot of communities. So there’s a lot of positive self-gratification for people to be involved in programs.”

In the South, I like to say that when babies come out of the womb they identify with a college football team. It’s part of your upbringing and part of your family, essentially. Saban points out the school is in the center of a lot of communities, and I would add it’s the center – not in the center – for many families I know. Winning seven championships in a row certainly has thrown gasoline on an already blazing fire.

What are some other reasons why SEC fans are so passionate?

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