Nick Saban is speaking out about the SEC’s new scheduling model. Saban is quoted in a new article from Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, offering some insight into the SEC’s scheduling plan as a 16-team conference and sharing his disapproval of Alabama’s draw of permanent rivals.

Saban shared that Alabama is looking at having Tennessee, Auburn and LSU on its annual schedule when the conference adds Texas and Oklahoma in 2024.

“I’ve always been an advocate for playing more [conference] games,” Saban told Dellenger. “But if you play more games, I think you have to get the three fixed [opponents] right. They’re giving us Tennessee, Auburn and LSU. I don’t know how they come to that [decision].

According to Saban, the SEC is trying to balance schedules based on teams’ success over the past 10 years.

“They said they did a 10-year whatever,” Saban said to 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,” Saban added. “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.”

Saban questions whether 10 years is the right timeframe to use in the NIL era.

“They only did it over 10 years,” Saban added. “Now you’ve got name, image and likeness, which changes that whole dynamic, because it’s who has the most money to pay players, until they change the rules. I like playing more SEC games. I think it’s good for the game and good for the fans. I think they have a better chance to get the parity right doing the eight games. I’m talking about the balance of who has who.”

Will Saban speaking out have an impact on the SEC schedule?

Saban’s words obviously carry weight in the SEC as the conference’s longest-tenured active football coach and most successful.

It has long been expected that the conference would preserve many of its top annual rivalry games, like the Iron Bowl and the Third Saturday in October, under the new schedule. In the 3-6 rotating model, all SEC teams will play each other more frequently. It appears Saban is more concerned with annual balance than playing Alabama’s 3 biggest rivalry games on an annual basis.

Saban makes Alabama’s permanent rival draw sound like a foregone conclusion, but there hasn’t been an official announcement yet from the conference. We’ll see if his public comments lead to any changes.