Alabama's Nick Saban would still like to see a 9-game SEC schedule

Anniston StarApril 22, 2014 

Alabama Spring Game Football

Alabama coach Nick Saban and his team was installed as the preseason favorite to win the SEC by conference media members on Thursday.

BUTCH DILL — AP

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- When it comes to the future of scheduling for SEC football, Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn't see much support growing for a potential move to a nine-game conference schedule.

Speaking in Birmingham on Monday, SEC commissioner Mike Slive told reporters that a decision on future scheduling would come before the league's spring meetings in Destin in late May.

And while Saban has long been a supporter of the league moving to a nine-game conference schedule, he feels he is in the minority as other league coaches have voiced support for the eight-game model, including Auburn's Gus Malzahn.

"I don't think there's any support for that. It doesn't seem like," Saban said Tuesday during his first Crimson Caravan stop. "I think there's a little more support for staying with an eight-game schedule and everybody playing a ninth opponent that's in the five major conferences."

The league is currently looking at eight- and nine-game formats.

The current 6-1-1 model features the six opponents from a team's division, a rotating cross-divisional opponent and a permanent cross-divisional opponent.

The 6-0-2 format would take away permanent cross-divisional rivalries. Team would face the other six teams in its division and have two rotating cross-divisional matchups.

Moving to nine-conference games would add a second cross-divisional matchup while also preserving cross-divisional rivalries.

If the league sticks with the eight-game model, there is the possibility of losing cross-divisional rivalries such as Alabama-Tennessee.

While there is no timetable for a decision, future scheduling will be on the agenda for the spring meetings next month along with the "SEC Network" and "some rule changes that we'll have," Saban said.

"My thing is, is I'm for playing nine conference games and still playing another team in the major conferences so you play 10 games," Saban said. "Because of fan interest, people coming to the stadium looking forward to seeing more good games. So that's the starting point for me.

"I think it's important for the players to be able to play more teams in the SEC East"

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