Alabama Football: Nick Saban not happy with SEC ‘permanents’


Will Alabama Football be adversely impacted in the divisional-less future of the SEC? Nick Saban, having long been the most vocal proponent of the SEC playing a nine or ten-game conference schedule, is not pleased with projected permanent opponents for the Crimson Tide.

As reported by Ross Dellenger, Saban wants,

"more balance and equity than what has been proposed by league administrators in a nine-game model"

The SEC is apparently following the wishes of ESPN to have as many ‘high-profile’ games as possible. ESPN has stated what matters most in attracting viewers.

"In college sports, it’s the rivalries. It’s the traditions. It’s the brands that really aggregate audience."

As a result, it is expected Alabama Football’s permanent trio of opponents will be Auburn, LSU and Tennessee. Fans, including most Alabama football fans, will love it. Nick Saban has a good reason to not like it. The issue is which teams, by comparison, have easier schedules because one of their permanent opponents is an SEC lightweight. A likely one is Tennessee, with Vandy on the Vol schedule every season. Georgia too could benefit, by being grouped with a permanent trio that includes South Carolina.

Alabama Football and Parity

Saban has even suggested for the SEC to achieve the most scheduling parity, sticking to eight games, with one annual permanent rival might be best. A decision will be made by SEC officials in the next several weeks. Some of the weaker SEC programs are not in favor of the nine-game format. They prefer a fourth, less tough, out-of-conference opponent.

It appears momentum is trending to the approval of a nine-game, 3-6 model. It is not expected that Saban’s concerns will change many minds. In fact, Saban being unhappy will make some other SEC programs happy.

If it is done skillfully, the six rotating games could be structured to minimize seasonal variations in parity. For example, if the Crimson Tide ends up with permanent opponents, LSU, Tennessee and Auburn, no more than two of the SEC’s ‘stronger’ programs should be scheduled in any one season. Without such an adjustment, an Alabama nine-game, SEC schedule could also include three of Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Florida and Georgia.

Some will argue the Playoff expansion to 12 teams makes schedule parity less of an issue. Plus any attempt to achieve parity will have a constantly moving target. An argument could be made that a nine-game, 1-and-8 format would work best, but at the loss of some traditional rivalries.

Next. Do trap games exist?. dark

After the scheduling debate ends and the SEC moves forward, unintended consequences may make the added-dollar plums less tasty than expected.