Alabama coach Nick Saban has another idea to improve college football.
Saban told ESPN Wednesday that he believes Power Five programs should only play amongst themselves. And that a big reason for teams scheduling smaller programs is because of the six wins required for a team to secure a bowl berth.
And in addition to scheduling only Power Five teams, Saban suggested the bowl system could be overhauled to resemble the NCAA basketball tournament and teams could be seeded within an expanded playoff-style structure based off rankings from similar schedules.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Saban did admit that his idea of a potential 10-game SEC schedule with two non-conference games was “so far out” that it wasn’t likely to be taken seriously. But we do have an idea on how it could get some traction.
As the head coach of Alabama and the most influential coach in the country, Saban could start to lead by example and only schedule Power Five programs. It’s by no means mandatory to play an FCS team the week before the Auburn game like Alabama has every year since 2009.
At the very least, Alabama could start to schedule an FBS team outside the Power Five conferences.
Those FCS games are much easier to schedule than games with bigger programs, however. Lower-tier programs play Alabama for the payday, which is vital to their athletic budgets. And Alabama doesn’t ever have to travel to its opponent’s place in the future. A Power Five program would likely be warier of visiting Alabama, and it’s doubtful the Tide would want to give up a guaranteed home game every other year in a home-and-home format.
Alabama does get credit for scheduling big games to open the season. The Tide open 2017 vs. Florida State in what’s could be the biggest game of the season and played Wisconsin to kick off 2015 and USC to start 2016. Saban’s program’s scheduling is far better than the likes of, say, Baylor, which routinely scheduled three guaranteed non-conference wins under former coach Art Briles.
Scheduling only Power Five programs would also disrupt the college football ecosystem. Group of Five teams routinely take pay-to-play games from big schools and would be left to play amongst themselves in an even more outcast fashion.
Would there really be more fan interest in college football if it was segregated even more between the haves and have-nots? We don’t think so, simply because of how much college football thrives on upsets.
But we’re definitely on board with discussing realistic ways to expand the playoff. An eight-team or 16-team playoff inside of the traditional bowl structure sounds pretty tantalizing.
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