“I’ve always said, ‘Let’s play all Power 5 games,'” Saban told ESPN on Friday. “I was in the NFL where we played all the games against NFL teams. But let’s play at least 10 Power 5 games. It would be better for the players, better for the fans, and I think you wouldn’t have to worry that if you lost a game that you wouldn’t have as much of a chance to still be in [the College Football Playoff]. They talk about strength of schedule now, but how do you really evaluate that?”
With growing concern about declining college football attendance numbers, Saban said it’s time the sport starts thinking more about the fans.
“We have to have a good show if we want people to come,” Saban said.
Saban said the model Alabama is discussing would be to play one nonconference Power 5 game annually as part of a home-and-home series and another at a neutral site. That’s as long as the SEC sticks with just eight conference games. The ACC and SEC are the only Power 5 leagues that play eight regular-season conference games, while the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 each play nine.
Saban has previously said he would be in favor of playing nine conference games in the SEC.
Of course, there’s the little matter of practicing what you preach…
This season, of Alabama’s four nonconference games, only the neutral-site season opener against Duke is against a Power 5 school. The others are at home against FBS independent New Mexico State, Southern Miss of Conference USA and FCS school Western Carolina.
But ‘Bama, perhaps goaded by Georgia’s aggressive scheduling moves, is seeking to remedy that going forward. In any event, add this to Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne’s earlier comments about schedule upgrading as a means of giving fans incentive to attend games gives me faint hope, but hope nevertheless, that we may be in store for some substantive discussion on the subject from schools.
I can’t believe I just typed that.