The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

May 29, 2013

Alabama's Saban calls for SEC to expand schedule

— DESTIN, Fla. (AP) — Alabama coach Nick Saban has a strong — and seemingly solitary — stance on the Southeastern Conference potentially moving to a nine-game league schedule.

Saban said Tuesday he would like to see the SEC expand from eight to nine games, an opinion that surely will draw debate and dissent during the league's annual spring meetings this week.

Saban was the only SEC coach to publicly call for increasing the number of league games, the biggest topic being discussed during daylong meetings held in the resort town. Although unlikely, SEC presidents and chancellors could vote on the issue Friday.

"I'm absolutely in the minority, no question about it," Saban said. "But everybody has their reasons."

Having won three of the last four Bowl Championship Series national title games, Saban admitted he should be against changing the model.

"If you look at it through a straw and how it affects you ... then you're not going to be for it," he said. "I shouldn't be for it. We'd have a better chance to be successful if we don't do it, but I think it's best for the game and for the league. I'm trying to look at it from 1,000 feet."

Others, including Georgia's Mark Richt, Vanderbilt's James Franklin and Mississippi's Hugh Freeze, want to keep things status quo. The SEC currently plays eight conference games: six games against division opponents, one against a designated rival from the other division and one rotational game against the remaining six teams.

Several coaches argued that expanding to nine games would only make an already difficult schedule even tougher — and could affect bowl eligibility for teams on the bubble.

"You add a ninth game and that's seven more losses for our conference," Freeze said. "We want to fill all our bowl slots and represent our conference. When you play that ninth game, it would create some more revenue, but it's seven more losses. I'm in favor of playing the West and two rotators. That's what I will push and vote for."

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