Nick Saban breaks down 'imperfections' in current playoff system
With the possibility of three Power 5 champions missing the College Football Playoff if things go a certain way in the SEC title game, much of this week has been spent debating conference championship games and the current playoff system.
Nick Saban weighed in on the issue during his Thursday radio show ahead of this weekend’s huge clash between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Georgia. The Crimson Tide coach was quite insightful about the subject, and you can read his full comments below (via The Tuscaloosa News).
“To be quite honest with you, I don’t think there’s a perfect system that we have right now and I think there’s some imperfections in the system that we do have right now,” Saban said. “I think that in our case and in Georgia’s case, both, we’re in the top four, so if you didn’t have playoff games, we would be in the playoff if you didn’t have championship games. There’s other schools, whether it’s Notre Dame or whoever fits into that category, that they don’t really have to play in a championship game. If they had to play Georgia, would they get in the playoff? If they had to play us, would they get in the playoff? So it’s not really a level playing field in terms of if you have a championship game.
“It’s not a perfect system the way it is now. I think if we eliminated the (conference) championship games and put eight teams in, it would make it even better. But I think the downside of that would affect a lot of the other bowl games in a negative way. I said when we started this whole playoff thing years ago, ‘It’s going to minimize the importance of bowl games. And bowl games are a tremendous, positive self-gratification for a lot of college football players, teams and people involved in programs. That it’s going to minimize the importance of going to a bowl game.’ I think that’s happened. That was a unique thing about college football that we don’t really have anymore. I think the bigger you make the playoff, the less important the bowl games are going to be. We’ve had players that choose not to play in a bowl game now.
“The whole system, I think, probably needs to be evaluated to figure out what really might be the best way, but for the whole college football deal. I mean, every team, everyone. Is it just about the playoffs? If it’s that, we ought to just put 16 teams in the playoff and not have any bowl games. Just keep playing games like they do in Division II and all that. But if it’s important for the balance in all these areas, then I think that has to be taken into consideration as well.”
It should be noted that Saban’s team is the impetus for this week’s worth of debates — many believe Alabama will still qualify for the CFP even with a loss to the Bulldogs based on its season-long dominance. While he seemed to advocate for an eight-team playoff, it’s clear Saban is a bit hesitant based on how much he values the bowl system.
Change likely won’t come for awhile, but it’s still interesting to get inside Saban’s head about the hottest topic in college football right now.