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Saban no fan of only division games deciding SEC divisional champs

Nick Saban AP

Somewhat surprisingly, an idea on determining the East and West division champions of the SEC by counting only divisional games, first pushed by Steve Spurrier and later supported by Les Miles, has seemingly gained some level of traction and could at least be up for discussion at the conference meetings later this month in Florida.

Just don’t hold your breath for the best head coach in college football to throw his support behind such a proposal.

Ahead of a Crimson Caravan stop Tuesday, Nick Saban was asked about an idea that, in essence, would relegate cross-division games to a level of importance akin to non-conference games.  While acknowledging the thinking that’s behind it, the Alabama head coach intimated that minimizing the importance of cross-divisional games could end up damaging the conference in the long run.

“I just think that’s one of those things that’s not always going to be controlled,” Saban said. “It’s not manipulated with who you play. We have a rotation, we have to go through it.

“I think the other division games you play on the other side are important to our fans and there’s a lot of tradition involved in some of those games. I think if you minimize the importance of those games, that wouldn’t be in the best interest of our league.”

Division-only games already do play a role in deciding divisional champions, albeit only in the case of a tie.  In a two-way tie, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head, obviously, but the second is the two team’s record in divisional play.  Lather, rinse, repeat when it comes to a three-team tiebreaker.

The combination of new members Missouri and Texas A&M coming into the conference this year plus the West’s domination over the East the past few years has led to this division-only push by two of the SEC’s most recognizable coaches, although it’s likely the latter that’s led to the chatter from the Ol’ Ball Coach.  As Saban may have hinted at when he said “that’s one of the things that’s not always going to be controlled”, however, these things run in cycles.

The record bear out the West’s dominance the past three years, with the East going just 15-39 in non-division games.  The three years prior to that?  The East owned a 39-33 advantage over the West from 2006-08.  From 2002-04, it was 30 wins for West schools, 24 wins for schools from the East.

Again, cycles, although this current one is a definite low point for the East relative to others in recent years.

Would Spurrier’s proposal, though, really make a difference as to who in the past would’ve represented the East and West in the SEC championship game?  Not much research needs to be undertaken to see that it would’ve just this past year, and guess which school that would’ve benefited?

In 2011, Georgia won the East at 7-1 while South Carolina, which beat the Bulldogs the second week of the season, finished behind UGA at 6-2.  Take out the three games against the West, however — UGA was 3-0 (Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn) while USC was 1-2 (losses to Auburn and Arkansas, win over Mississippi State) — the former would’ve been 4-1 and the latter 5-0.  In other words, the Gamecocks, not the Bulldogs, would’ve served as the sacrificial lamb faced LSU in the SEC title game last December.

I love the OBC as much as anyone, but c’mon.  Do what’s best for the conference, not what would’ve been best for your school a year ago.  And, sorry coach, turning non-divisional games into the equivalent of non-conference games is not, as Saban said, what’s best for the SEC.

Having games against Florida Atlantic, Alabama-Birmingham, Georgia State and Louisiana-Monroe carry the same level of importance in the SEC standings as games against Florida, Alabama, Georgia and LSU?  That’s an indefensible — and laughable — proposition.  Or, as commissioner Mike Slive put it last month…

“We certainly can discuss it, but an SEC football game is an SEC football game,” Slive said. “Sitting here first blush without a lot of thought, it would be very hard to decide some games are more valuable than other games.”

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20 Responses to “Saban no fan of only division games deciding SEC divisional champs”
  1. dapell says: May 16, 2012 10:45 AM

    Beat head coach? Only like Calipari is the best head coach in basketball. Saban is the poster boy for everything wrong with college football. A guy who wins, but is willing to do everything dirty and against the spirit of college athletics to do so.

  2. linedrivehit says: May 16, 2012 10:56 AM

    It’s lonely at the top Nick – it’s tough when everybody hates you just because you are so much better than they are. Jealousy translates into hate.

  3. thegamecocker says: May 16, 2012 11:02 AM

    This coming season, South Carolina plays Arkansas and LSU. Georgia does not play Arkansas, LSU, or Alabama this coming season and whom the pundits predicted are the top 3 schools in the West half of the SEC. While last year a similar scheduling situation prevailed, the fact is that South Carolina would have won the East had we beaten Auburn. Frankly, we have no one to blame but ourselves for not winning the East last season. We should have beaten Auburn in Columbia last season but it didn’t happen. While we defeated Georgia in Athens, they ended up with the better SEC record and deserved to win the East. Having said this, whomever developed Georgia’s schedule this coming season did not do South Carolina any favors for sure.

  4. rajuncajun28 says: May 16, 2012 11:35 AM

    The only people that care what little Nicky says are the trailer dweller rednecks in the tiny city of Tuskeyloser…it must be miserable to live where you have NO pro sports and are consumed when little Nicky passes gas….

  5. coffinofchaos says: May 16, 2012 1:01 PM


    1) You’re right, living in Tuscaloosa and receiving a free education from one of the best Interdisciplinary programs in the world was totally miserable.

    2) There aren’t trailers in Tuscaloosa. On the outskirts, near the lakes and in tiny little towns surrounding it, yes, the city itself has an ordinance against them. You must be thinking of Auburn.

    3) Only 40 of 18,000+ cities have a pro team. Must be a lot of miserable people out there with nothing to hold on to or care about.

    4) You’re a bitter LSU fan and everyone sees it.

  6. kozbee says: May 16, 2012 1:48 PM

    Les Miles,its funny they bring him up after the way he coached the BCS Championship game and lost.Having Jefferson taking the snaps and getting his tail beat down,Les is starting to remind me of Fulmer when he was coaching Tenn.Being down as they were and not pulling out Jefferson and putting in Lee was one stupid game call i ever seen in a BCS game.Miles sure must of had alot of trouble in the locker room with words from players before game start cause the LSU team was not playing like they played all season.Lee standing on the sideline with his helmet on and miles refusing to let him play shows there was trouble between players and coaches or Les is losing his touch as a head coach.

  7. Deb says: May 16, 2012 1:48 PM

    @dapell …

    Care to share some of those dirty tricks Saban has been using to win? You talk like you have such firsthand knowledge, so I’m sure you enumerate things he’s done that aren’t common practice elsewhere. And while you’re sharing, tell us what team you support so we can get a fix on your objectivity.

  8. kozbee says: May 16, 2012 1:59 PM

    What makes Saban a winner is hes one of the best recruiters in college football and the fact is he recruits the players he needs.With Sims leaving and Bateman joining up with Bama shows Saban can recruit what it takes to win a NC game with top recruits.Just shows alot of envy towards the Bama team from some posters.Theres not a team in college football that would keep their coach is Saban was up for hire.

  9. mountaineer50415 says: May 16, 2012 2:00 PM

    When people misspell the name of a city or football team or state I think they are stupid. I never think that the place being misspelled is stupid. I know they say they are doing it on purpose, however, not sure I believe it.
    One thing is for sure, it NEVER makes the place look the same as it obviously does to the person writing. It only lets people know how said person feels and maybe also that they are stupid.I am not a trailer dweller, I own my home in Florida. I do not live anywhere near Alabama. I do care what Saban has to say. I do not care what The S.C. Coach has to say. He doesn’t make sense. His half of the conference is down, so of course he doesn’t want to play teams from the West. If he has to play them he doesn’t want it to count. Now If Saban has anything to do with his ignorance, please make this blind person see.

  10. fcmlefty1 says: May 16, 2012 4:16 PM

    This is yet another issue that has very valid points on both sides. The good thing is it becomes a slightly lesser issue going forward, as now only 2 games (instead of 3) are out of the division.

  11. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: May 16, 2012 6:17 PM

    Saban’s dirty tricks at winning:
    – recruit top players
    – hired top position coaches
    – forced his players to play hard on every down regardless if they’re up by 35 or down
    – can careless about the hype
    – know how to adjust at half time
    … Saban’s dirty laundry lists is so long I can keep going…,

  12. mountaineer50415 says: May 16, 2012 8:37 PM

    It is in print, yet I can not believe my eyes. According to The Crazy, no coach except Saban tries to:
    recruit top players
    hire the best possable coaches
    tries to adjust at half time and
    doesn’t worry about the hype.
    I do not know who your coach is but I hope my coach tries his best to do all of the above.
    I really feel sorry for you if your coach does not do his job.

  13. Deb says: May 16, 2012 8:59 PM

    @mountaineer50415 …

    thecrazyasian is kidding. He has a delightful sense of humor, but a lot of people just don’t seem to get him.

    @thecrazyasian …

    Now you understand your problem with the PFT moderators 😉

  14. mountaineer50415 says: May 17, 2012 8:41 AM

    Wow. I bet late night comedy is shaking in their boots that Crazy will replace one of them.

  15. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: May 17, 2012 9:55 AM

    Something’s deserve explanation and it I have to do it for you then it means you are wrap up too tight so just relax and enjoy stop taking everything do serious…. Basically stop blaming other’s for their success and your short coming, worry about how your team needs to improve and stop worry about Saban. Les doesn’t that’s why he and Saban give each other a run for their money.

  16. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: May 17, 2012 11:43 AM

    Hey don’t even know who my team is and you’re dishing at me

  17. mountaineer50415 says: May 17, 2012 3:37 PM

    “Something’s deserve explanation and it I have to for you then it means you are wrap up too tight so just relax and enjoy stop taking everything do serious.”
    You are right I do not know which team you root for, however, if you also attend that college for an education, holy cow. Please, for the university’s good will, do not tell which one you go to.
    I have never been considered wrapped too tightly. I do not see humor in what you wrote. I can understand if you meant it to be sarcastic, but not funny. Hope you do not need to make money with your wit.

  18. thecrazyasianinseccountry says: May 17, 2012 8:47 PM

    You got me mountaineer50415 … You must be alot smarter than I am. Never did claimed to be a strong writer… Especially with cell phone. Yes I’m an LSU graduate with two degrees… I won’t say what they are because it will give away my ID, and I don’t want anyone coming over to kick my @$$ over sports talk.

  19. mountaineer50415 says: May 18, 2012 10:52 AM

    Oh were you talking sports. To me it appeared you were trying to take over where Mr Carson left off. He would have turned over in his grave.
    All I am saying is you need to keep your day job.
    I am sorry for LSU. How could a person get two degrees and write like that?
    I am just a retired accountant. We had to take a couple courses in English. Do they not do that anymore? I can understand a misspelled word now and then, but you write without sentences. That does not take a rocket scientist.
    Some things is not the same thing as something.
    If I misspell a word people say it is because I am from WV. Is it LSUes fault that you can not write.

  20. foreverlsu says: May 23, 2012 1:11 PM

    Hey Mountaineer, spare us with how intelligent you think you are.

    Oh and be careful playing grammar policeman in the same message you state “Some things is not the same thing as something.”

    Comical hillbilly!

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