You have to give Nick Saban credit for one thing when it comes to the question of how many in-conference games SEC teams should play: He's nothing if not persistent. The Alabama head coach continues to push for a nine-game league slate, and during his remarks Thursday to SEC Media Days, Saban basically laced into his colleagues at less successful schools that use weak scheduling to qualify for the postseason.
You know, it's what the fans want. I mean, we need to be more concerned about the people who support the programs and the university and come and see the games. I mean, those are the most important. But we never think about that. Everybody is worried about whether they're going to qualify to go to a bowl game, all that stuff.
It's a welcome statement from someone who is probably in his last job, almost certainly in his last decade or so of coaching, and no longer has to worry about what anyone else thinks about what he says. While some fans of some of the less storied teams in the SEC and elsewhere might like going to any bowl game they can squeeze into, the vast majority of fans for most schools would much rather see their team play Ohio State or even Colorado instead of Troy or New Mexico State. Even if it meant taking on an extra loss every so often. Saban also noted that players don't get an opportunity now to play every other SEC team before they graduate.
Doing what's best for the players and fans. Imagine that.
Saban kind of glided around the effect on bowl bids by calling for a selection committee to pick the teams that go to the postseason, regardless of their record. The problem with that, of course, is apparent in the NCAA basketball and baseball committee: By rule and practicality, teams with losing records are not considered for "at-large" bids, and the same would likely hold true in football. Besides, if the bowls are awarded to any team as long as it looks good enough while losing, the last whiff of making bowl visits a reward for objective accomplishment goes out the window.
Another thing Saban basically glided around: Paul Finebaum's claim in a forthcoming book that Saban was offered $100 million to take the Texas job.
Well, I didn't have any conversations with them. Nobody offered me anything. So I guess if I didn't have any conversations with them, I didn't have very much interest.
This is an exquisite non-denial denial. It's really a work of art. "I didn't have any conversations with them" -- which is not to say that Jimmy Sexton didn't. "Nobody offered me anything" -- which is not to say that terms were never discussed with Sexton; besides, the job is never officially offered before the decision has been made, just to provide both sides plausible deniability.
As for the third sentence, which looks on the surface to be the strongest, here is the only declarative part of that sentence: "So." Everything after that word follows the phrase "I guess." Then, everything becomes dependent on "if I didn't have any conversations with them." And then Saban caps it off by saying he "didn't have very much interest," which is not the same as saying that he had no interest.
I've long said that I don't think Saban was likely to go to Texas, and I'm particularly skeptical about Finebaum's report. Were there serious conversations? Probably not. Did Texas at least check in with Jimmy Sexton and see if Saban's services might be available? Probably. And nothing Saban said Thursday disputes that.
Whether it's his position on more SEC games or the question of whether he will take another head coaching job, it doesn't look Saban is going to budge anytime soon. Love him or hate him, that's not a bad thing.