SEC Media Days 2012: Nick Saban, Pundit

One of the things you get used to after a couple of years of watching Nick Saban at SEC Media Days is that, more so than other coaches, Nick Saban gets asked questions that have very little if any connection to Alabama's football team. Part of that is probably because he has now graduated to elder status in the game -- while Saban isn't that old, per se, anyone who has three national championships to his name is going to be a respected voice on the larger issues in the game.

In the course of this year's appearance before the media, Saban was asked about: the Penn State situation, Derek Dooley's reportedly hot seat, what college football will look like in 10 years, whether UAH and UAB were being treated fairly by the University of Alabama board (Saban's employers) and the playoff criteria. That's not counting the question about kickoffs that was put before most of the SEC coaches.

Thing is, on many (but not all) of those questions, Saban was more than happy to oblige. The Penn State question was about a solution he had already floated to tax tickets and donate the proceeds to charities that fight child abuse, though he conceded that it might not be the right approach. And while he brushes off some questions, Saban is willing to describe his feelings in length about others.

The Alabama coach upbraided his colleagues for their hesitance about a nine-game schedule, saying it was a possible solution to making sure that the players get to play every SEC team at least once.

Trying took at this whole thing from a thousand feet rather than looking at it as how it just affects us, my opinion was the No. 1 priority should be that every player at every school have the opportunity to play every SEC school in his career. ... Everybody's got a self-absorbed opinion about why we shouldn't do it because maybe they won't get bowl eligible.

And he became the first SEC official to confront the idea of paying too much attention to conference championships in selecting teams for the playoff and calling it what it was.

I think, to be quite honest with you, whoever's making the statements about conference champions is really making a statement against the SEC and against any league who has more than one good team who would qualify, trying to enhance the opportunity for somebody from their league to get in.

Of course, Saban does answer questions about his football team. He like the idea of playing neutral-site games like the showdown with Michigan, Eddie Lacy is doing well, and A.J. McCarron "had a really good spring." So it's not like Saban spent the entire session just talking about things other than Alabama.

But there's a reason that Saban is the kind of guy ESPN likes to recruit for guest analyst duties, and why he might be able to turn that into a full-time job if he ever decides that he's done enough coaching. But at least as he still wants to walk the sidelines, Saban will always have time to let his inner pundit speak at SEC Media Days.

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