Saban references Richt firing as a reason against playoff expansion

Alabama football coach Nick Saban is against college football's playoff expanding to eight teams. (Vasha Hunt / AL.com)

Alabama football coach Nick Saban is against college football’s playoff expanding to eight teams. (Vasha Hunt / AL.com)

DALLAS — Alabama’s Nick Saban and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio both came out against potential expansion of the College Football Playoff Wednesday, reiterating their belief that it would make the season too long and further diminish the value of the regular season and bowl games. Saban also said coaches could be viewed as unsuccessful based solely on not reaching the playoffs and made a not-so-veiled reference to former Georgia coach Mark Richt.

“I think in some circumstances I saw it happen this year,” Saban said Wednesday in the final pre-Cotton Bowl news conference. “Coaches who won nine games and average winning 9½ games over 15 years lose their job. Based on what standard? So I think that’s probably going to be the standard. And that’s the thing that I thought was unique about college football, that there was a lot of positive reinforcement for having a good season, a very good season. And now that standard is going to be measured more as to whether you get in the playoff or not.”

Saban was not asked a follow-up question on the subject but the reference clearly was to Richt, whose firing after the regular season prompted Saban to comment at the time: “I don’t know what the world’s coming to in our profession. Mark Richt’s been a really good coach and real positive person in our profession for a long, long time. I think when you win nine games, that’s a pretty good season, and especially with the body of work that he’s been able to put together there for however (many) years he’s been there.”

Saban and Dantonio held a joint news conference in advance of Thursday’s national semifinal. Regarding the playoff system, Dantonio expressed the belief of most coaches that the season already is too long.

That’s true. But what Saban, Dantonio and other coaches should do is direct their anger toward college presidents and athletic directors who’ve created the situation by prioritizing multi-million dollars with television networks over academics — which, by the way, also has led to skyrocketing coaches salaries and inflated recruiting budgets, neither of which coaches are complaining about.

“When you start to throw eight teams in there, I think it’s going to get a little bit even more muddled as you move forward,” Dantonio said. “We have our (Big Ten) championship game within our conference, which sort of served as a way to get into this (playoff). And right now we’re coming in to playing our 14th game. So it’s a lot of football games.”

Saban echoed those sentiments: “One of the unique things about college football was always that a lot of positive reinforcement was given to a lot of teams who had the opportunity to go to bowl games. And there were some pretty significant trips involved for families and fans and teams and players. And my concern was if we had a playoff, all the attention would go to the playoff and we would minimize the importance of those games for all those other players. And I think that’s probably happened to some degree. Having a four-team playoff creates a lot of excitement for fans. I think if we play as many games as we play now and go to eight teams, we’re going to be playing too many games.”

There is one solution to this: Eliminate conference championship games or shorten the regular season, both of which make money for conferences and schools. But that’s not going to happen, of course.

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59 comments
MoreySims
MoreySims

The ncaa needs to do what Nick says---no more playoffs! He means it!

KWdan
KWdan

The play offs are about who is the best team not who is not the best or almost the best but the best.

MikeS777
MikeS777

The coaches that always say we don't need a playoff or to expand a playoff are always the ones at programs that don't get skipped over.

People ragging SEC hype, but it's the LSU/Alabama rematch that gave us this playoff, when the Tide skipped over Big 12 champ Oklahoma St.

I think we need 2 or 3 years where the SEC gets at least 2 teams in for this to expand to 8.   If not the SEC, some other conference.  We need at least 2 conferences to regularly get snubbed.   Then they will expand to 8.

ErkMunson
ErkMunson

But apparently 9 wins ain't enough to keep you in top 25 Nick!

WilSmith
WilSmith

Why eliminate conference championship games? The conference championship games should serve as the de facto 1st round of the National Championship series. That is - there are 5 power conferences - if you just tweak the rules of entry so that the only teams eligible for the National Championship game are the power conference champions  - then the only thing the committee has to decide is which conference champion to exclude (it sort of works this way now so just codify it). In this case the regular season means something - you need to win to get into the conference championship hunt and, if your conference has a championship game, it matters since you need to win it to be considered for the National Championship series.

Already_Older
Already_Older

Eliminate Conference Championship Games?  That is your solution?  That is crazy.  It would be much better to stick with 4 teams than that.  Granted, Conference Championship Games  weren't around before conferences split into 2 divisions, but the conferences weren't expanded then either.

dawg fan
dawg fan

You also have to wonder if Saban is a little nervous about the possibility of facing his former understudy Smart.  Several people claim that Smart has only rode Saban's coattails and will fail on his own.  But what if it's the other way around?  What if Saban was riding Smart's coattails?  He's a great coach on his own for sure but he never had a dynasty-level program until Kirby took over his defense and was recruiting for him.  That's just a fact.  I know that this is a total homer thought but it's just as good a speculation as any.  We'll see. 

Already_Older
Already_Older

@dawg fan You are really dreaming, but I give you credit.  You must be the most optimistic fan in dawg country if you really believe that.  I do think Alabama will miss him, because he has been there and worked with  Saban so long, but I think you will be the only person to say that Saban has been riding Smart's coattails.

dawg fan
dawg fan

@Already_Older Believe what?  I didn't make any specific prediction.  I do think there will be a drop off at Bama without Kirby.  Pruitt is overrated.  You'll see.  Our stats on D were padded with a wide variety of creampuffs.  Against any team with any offensive competence whatsoever we were mediocre at best.  Saban was obviously a great coach before Kirby came along but he has reached unfathomable heights since he took over the defense and was given more responsibility with recruiting.  It's not too much of a stretch to say that Kirby was a big part of it.  That's all I'm saying.  Whether it translates into success as a head coach at Georgia remains to be seen.  No one knows.  A lot of neg head Richt fans act like they know but they don't.  He could be Goff 2.0 or Saban 2.0.  Nobody knows.  Don't know means you don't know.  All I know is it was time to give someone else a shot.  I'm glad it's Kirby. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@dawg fan @Already_Older

There may be a small drop off at Bama, but comparing Pruitt's UGa Defense to Smart's Bama Defense is not exactly fair. Bama has one of the best defenses in the country, UGa had the 3rd best defense in the SEC east. Much more talent at Bama to work with.

KWdan
KWdan

It is great to know UGA has already won the SEC in 2016 because they have a new coach. Who knew that was all it takes?

proudparent01
proudparent01

I agree with Saban. In fact, get rid of the playoffs altogether and go back to only the bowl games. Who cares who is number 1. This is college football. These kids don't even get paid. 

ResidentGeorgiaFan
ResidentGeorgiaFan

Y'all are working too hard to turn Saban's comment into something negative. He always tells it like it is, like or not.

dawg fan
dawg fan

That's a backhanded compliment if there ever was one.  The implication is that Richt would never be able to make it to the 8 team playoff.  Can't say I disagree coach.  I'm sure you'd love to have more nice guy coaches with "good" 9 win seasons to compete against.  LOL @ anyone who doesn't see right through this.

SamuelClemens
SamuelClemens

So he's against the HUNH Offense bc it puts too much strain on players, and he's against playoff expansion bc guaranteed multi-millionaires may get fired.

Am'i'ite?

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

It seemed like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde moment. Dr. Jekyll was probably being very sincere in his comments about the profession, and what is happening to it when a winning coach who runs a good program and is a very positive influence for his players, the school where he coaches, and college football as a whole. 


On the other hand, one cannot help but wonder if Mr. Hyde is quietly thinking to himself - the more Mark Richt's there are in the college coaching ranks, the better. The better for me and the several other merciless sharks who swim the waters of big time, big money,huge profits and huge salaries professional college football. Those who win consistently and get their teams into national championship consideration year in and year out. The ones like Saban who really know what it takes to win in modern day, big time college football. For guys like Saban, the more coaches willing to settle for "moral" victories, the better for him, and them.  

E983
E983

I'm sure he liked Mark Richt being at UGA. It was a W when the Tide played them.

ckdawgs
ckdawgs

Saban would not be satisfied winning 9 or 10 games a year and not playing for championships so he shouldn't be shocked that others (i.e. Greg McGarity) feel the same way.  He's setting the bar that other coaches are having a difficult time reaching.  Good for him but enough of the hypocrisy.

William1952
William1952

I think the college football program that raises the most contribution money should be declared the national champion. After all, it's all about money these days anyway.

DawgNole
DawgNole

NS: "I think if we play as many games as we play now and go to eight teams, we’re going to be playing too many games.

______________________

TOTAL BS!

There's a very simple solution for FBS: Drop one or two of those regular-season cupcakes you're so sickeningly fond of, cowards!

8kentucky13
8kentucky13

@DawgNole  All that would do is hurt the smaller programs who rely on "money games" to make their athletic budgets for the year.  Most of them are bleeding money in the first place

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH:IO @DawgNole 


Yeah it would be better if Bama scheduled a cupcake B1G team in late November to get their Sugar Rush. Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue, Indiana ,Penn State,or Illinois would likely be just as B1G breather as Charleston Southern or Georgia State.

birdrow
birdrow

Saban doesn't know what he is talking about.  All of the great couch potato bloggers that post their opinions on the AJC every day do. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@birdrow 

No, not all of them. You're still on here--posting your opinion.

Gman84
Gman84

Seems counterintuitive: Saban is against expanding the CFB playoff to include more teams because good coaches now get fired for not making it into the CFB playoff?  Uh, OK......

BruceWeaver
BruceWeaver

You've already bagged Richt. Time to start working on getting rid of Smart.

MemphisTigerFan
MemphisTigerFan

Richt was fired for not being able to make it to the SEC Championship for too long. 9-3 or 8-4 is good enough for a bowl game invite, but Top Tier SEC schools expect a Championship every once in a while.

Bhorsoft
Bhorsoft

@MemphisTigerFan That was the main reason, but losing to the wrong teams was a second reason.  What does a 9 win season matter if the majority of the wins are against low ranked teams and your losses are against rivals and top 25 teams.

Peachs
Peachs

It is the money they are paid, if you are Johnson you get another year, if you are paid like Richt you really owe the school some money back. 

JenkinsFamily
JenkinsFamily

Win eight games at Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Va Tech, Texas Tech and you're ok.

Win less than eight/nine at SEC power football schools and you'll be hunting for a new job. 

But don't cry for the head coach making $3 mil a year. He'll survive.

MikeS777
MikeS777

@JenkinsFamily Yeah he will survive, but the ones winning championships are being paid $5-7 million.   Nick Saban is making near $7 million.   Urban Meyer is making near $6 million.  There are half a dozen others like Bob Stoops and Jimbo Fisher making over $5 million per year.

Until he got a raise recently, Mark Richt was one of the lowest paid coaches in the SEC.   There's only 4 or 5 SEC coaches making less than $4 million dollars.

TU
TU

They could increase TV revenues by broadcasting games seven days a week like they do with collegiate baseball. With over 150 FBS teams, there is plenty of product to fill the demand. The NCAA should create their own TV network and cut out the middleman (ESPN). They say there is no such thing as too much money.


MemphisTigerFan
MemphisTigerFan

Actually, there's only 129 FBS Teams. That's why there were 5-7 teams playing in bowl games this year. 40 Bowl Games is 80 teams, nearly 2/3rds of all FBS teams.

Bhorsoft
Bhorsoft

@MemphisTigerFan Keep in mind that most of the lesser bowl games are ESPN creations.  Belk Bowl, Go Daddy Bowl, Foster Farms Bowl, Idaho Potato Bowl and so on are fairly recent bowl creations with many owned by ESPN or other monied sponsors.  Their sole purpose is to make money.  Other than alumni, gamblers, and football junkies, no one really cares about sub-500% teams playing in bowl games. Most of these games are about money for the sponsor and for the schools.


Of course, no one really gives a rat's keyster about the players - the ones working during the holidays with no pay other than a possible minimal stipend.

PappyHappy
PappyHappy

Saban the Fox would like to keep some of those 8 and 9 win teams around in the SEC where he can beat up on them annually.  Don't blame him, but UGA needs a coach like Saban, and we now may just have one!

MikeS777
MikeS777

@PappyHappy Maybe he should coach his first college game before we declare him to be on Nick Saban's level.

OH:IO
OH:IO

dogs will never make it so don't  worry about it. 

MICH:IGAN
MICH:IGAN

Hey "Ohio" fan. Got a drivers license? Big Zeek doesnt. Ha ha GO BIG BLUE!

FrankieB
FrankieB

The most logical thing to do would be expand the playoffs to 8 teams, remove conference championship games, and remove one non-conference game from the schedule.  But that will never happen, of course.


On that note, the NBA regular season should be shortened to 75 games. Teams are hardly ever healthy in the playoffs and that's a problem.

peachstealth
peachstealth

@FrankieB No need to remove any games. The FCS has a 24 team playoff . The championship is 1/9/16 between North Dakota State and Jacksonville State

The FBS can manage both bowl games and an 8 team playoff If they incorporate some of the bowls into the system. 

JenkinsFamily
JenkinsFamily

@FrankieB how about shortening baseball from 162 games. It's boring and nobody watches it anymore.



Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Saban hated that Richt got fired, he could always count that as a automatic win ever 5 and 6 years

peachstealth
peachstealth

The conference championship games ARE the first round of the playoffs. The next round should be the 5 P5 champions, the highest rated G5 champion and 2 at large teams that could come from the P5 the G5 or non-conference members.