Nick Saban wants to see cupcakes dropped from schedules, changes to postseason
Many of Nick Saban’s peers have suggested he would make an excellent commissioner for college football if a position were ever created. On Wednesday, he showed why he might one day be an ideal fit.
In a conversation with ESPN’s Heather Dinich, Saban proposed a number of significant changes when it comes to scheduling the regular season and postseason eligibility. Saban wasn’t just speaking as a frustrated coach, he even referenced the potential television revenue and entertainment value that would come with his proposed changes.
One big change Saban would make is no more cupcake games for Power 5 teams. Saban suggested a schedule of 10 conference games (currently eight in the SEC) and two Power 5 non-conference opponents. He would also drop the current minimum wins to get to a bowl game in favor of a seeding system similar to college basketball’s March Madness.
“We should play all teams in the Power 5 conferences,” Saban said. “If we did that, then if we were going to have bowl games, we should do the bowl games just like we do in the NCAA basketball tournament — not by record but by some kind of power rating that gets you in a bowl game. If we did that, people would be a little less interested in maybe bowl games and more interested in expanding the playoff.”
Saban sees multiple benefits to a 12-game schedule of only Power 5 opponents.
“You eliminate the six wins to get in a bowl game and now you can have a different kind of scheduling that is more fan interest, more good games, bring out the better quality team,” he said, “and whether you expand the playoff or have a system where it’s like now — we take the top 12 teams and decide what bowl game they go to — just take them all.
“In this scenario, there would be more opportunity to play more teams in your league, as well as to have more games that people would be interested in. We all play three or four games a year now that nobody’s really interested in. We’d have more good games, more public interest, more fan interest, better TV.”
It’s doubtful that anyone will argue with Saban’s point that dropping cupcake games would benefit the fans and TV networks alike. Unfortunately, as he hints at, no school will want to drop its gimme games if it hurts the chance of going to postseason. The NCAA may one day consider changing the bowl system eligibility system, but the College Football Playoff committee has showed no signs of changing its format and selection process.
Saban’s proposal also would not go over well with non-Power 5 programs, particularly those in the FCS. The big payday that comes with making a trip to an SEC stadium goes a long way toward funding the athletic department budget for many of those smaller schools.
From a fan prospective, however, Saban’s proposals are fun to imagine.