Alabama football and other CFB Playoff contenders would benefit from a 9-game SEC schedule and there is another added benefit for Nick Saban.
While chasing for the SEC West title in November, imagine Alabama football facing LSU, Mississippi State, Florida and then preparing for their rival, Auburn. Critics praise Alabama for their opening games against tough opponents yet hammer them for the teams added the week before Auburn. Fans across the nation are quick to point this out when discussing SEC football. While other conferences are playing formidable foes within their conference and winning, skeptics see the SEC playing FCS cupcakes before regular season finales.
It is disheartening when the Big 12, Pac 12 and Big 10 are playing a nine-game schedule. The remaining two Power Five conferences, the ACC and SEC have stuck with eight games. However, the ACC was willing to take a step forward in February 2012 until Notre Dame joined the conference. The Fighting Irish agreed to play five ACC opponents annually thus ending the discussion for nine conference games.
Nick Saban has advocated for nine conference games for a long time. One, it allows your players to play every team during their career. Second, critics cannot question games such as Mercer, Wofford, Chattanooga or Missouri State.
Even if the Tide played a bottom dweller from a major conference like an Illinois, Indiana or Maryland it would be better than playing an FCS school. Just imagine the heat Auburn would take playing a Mercer the week before the Iron Bowl while Alabama football whipped on a low-rung B1G or Big 12 team.
Last year the SEC had two teams make the playoffs. If the SEC would play nine games, it would enhance the chances of two teams making the field in the future.
College basketball scheduling works better
College basketball has it right. The annual SEC/Big 12 challenge is great. This past season, fans were able to witness Alabama superstar guard Collin Sexton against Oklahoma’s all-world guard Trae Young. College football sets their schedule so far out that it is hard to get these type of matchups. Hopefully, when Alabama faces Texas in their home and home, both teams are still relevant to where it is an intriguing matchup.
Of course, the problem with these ideas is the bowl qualification for teams like Vanderbilt and Kentucky. In some years, the same could be true for other SEC schools. As long as one measurement in defining coach stability is six wins and a bowl game, several SEC schools will oppose the change. Nick Saban has a better idea for determining bowl eligibility.
His idea is to use a committee as basketball does for the purpose of picking all the bowl participants. The idea would allow five-win teams who played tougher schedules to be rewarded with bowl game over 6-win teams who played weaker schedules.
Another added value of a 9-game SEC schedule
For decades it has been presumed Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant’s record of 159 SEC wins would stand forever. Chris Lowe threw out a counter idea a couple of months ago.
Saban will probably break the Bryant record without a nine-game SEC schedule. The extra game would almost assure that happening unless Saban’s career gets cut short for health reasons.
To be fair to Bryant, Saban has 100 regular season SEC wins. The other seven wins referenced by Lowe were in SEC Championship games. Bryant never had that opportunity.
Saban is not too far away from passing Steve Spurrier in SEC wins. The ‘ole ball coach’ led Florida and South Carolina to 131 SEC, regular season victories