Alabama coach Nick Saban was just finished dusting off the confetti from last night’s BCS championship victory over Notre Dame — his fourth championship in eight years — when he took the podium this morning for a press conference.
Saban touched on and was asked about a variety of topics — yes, the NFL thing came up; no, Saban wasn’t happy about it — including his opinion on a four-team playoff, which is coming up in two years.
Here’s what Saban said about the selection process:
“You can’t sneak yourself in,” Saban said, adding that teams should have to play in a conference championship game. Currently, four of the five major conferences in college football hold such a game; only the 10-team Big 12 does not.
Personally, I feel the Big 12 has it right. Play nine conference games in a round robin league and have a clear a path to a playoff spot with a good enough overall record. Financially speaking, the Big 12 doesn’t need a conference championship either. If a playoff selection committee truly places an emphasis on what teams have done in the regular season, then sneaking in based on whether or not your conference has a championship game doesn’t seem likely when the field is still just four teams.
But if we’re talking about “sneaking in,” it’s tough not to tell Saban to look in the mirror after what happened following the 2011 season. The Tide did not win the SEC West and therefore did not play in the SEC championship game, but because there was a strong push for “the two best teams” to play in the BCS championship, Alabama got the nod over Big 12 champion Oklahoma State.
A four-team playoff is far from perfect and it won’t resolve every problem, but “sneaking in” doesn’t feel like it will be an issue.