Alabama coach Nick Saban has provided a lot of suggestions for improving college football over the years, and he isn't afraid to share them when the opportunity arises.
His latest idea would change the way regular seasons work, and in his opinion, make the sport a lot more appealing to fans.
"We should play all teams in the Power Five conferences," said Saban in an interview with ESPN. "If we did that, then if we were going to have bowl games, we should do the bowl games just like we do in the NCAA basketball tournament -- not by record but by some kind of power rating that gets you in a bowl game. If we did that, people would be a little less interested in maybe bowl games and more interested in expanding the playoff."
These remarks aren't the first time Saban has brought up the suggestion of Power Five teams only playing other teams from the Power Five. He's mentioned that idea a few times in the past, but he gets into some new ground with his idea for bowl games. An idea he would expand upon in greater detail.
Saban wants to get rid of the six-win requirement altogether.
"You eliminate the six wins to get in a bowl game, and now you can have a different kind of scheduling that is more fan interest, more good games, bring out the better quality team," said Saban. "Whether you expand the playoff or have a system where it's like now -- we take the top 12 teams and decide what bowl game they go to -- just take them all.
"In this scenario, there would be more opportunity to play more teams in your league, as well as to have more games that people would be interested in. We all play three or four games a year now that nobody's really interested in. We'd have more good games, more public interest, more fan interest, better TV."
Saban also once again broached the subject of expanding conference play, even mentioning the idea of the SEC playing 10 conference games per season, and then two nonconference games against teams from other Power Five conferences. His overall point is that if schools don't need to win six games to qualify for a bowl, they won't feel the need to schedule easy wins against FCS opponents and certain Group of Five teams.
Now, there is one of Saban's ideas that I like. I've always been a proponent of conferences playing larger conference schedules. The fact that the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 already play nine-game schedules is something I support, and I wish the SEC and ACC would follow suit. I'd be all for expanding that to 10 games.
After that, there are a few things I don't like, or I'm at least not sure about.
I'm good with conferences expanding schedules, but the idea of only playing other Power Five teams concerns me a bit. I'd love that there would be so many more "big games," but I also worry about what those games would do to the Group of Five conferences.
I understand that these conferences and schools aren't as popular as most of the schools in the Power Five, but they're also one of the aspects of college football that make it special and unique. I think you'd do irreparable damage to those schools if you did not allow them to play Power Five opponents, and I'm not sure they'd be financially solvent in the long run without the ability to do so.
It's also a reason I'm not really into Saban's idea of ditching the six-win requirement for bowl games. Yes, an immediate effect of dropping the rule would probably be schools being more willing to schedule tougher games. The not-so-immediate effects could cause a lot of problems, however.
First of all, even if they aren't as important to the general fan as they used to be, bowl games are still a reward for the players. Some more so than others, sure, but not every team can win a conference or play in the College Football Playoff. Bowl games give teams something for which to strive -- a reason to feel they've accomplished something. If you go to a full selection committee for bowl games than we're just going to see a lot of 5-7 and 4-8 Power Five teams chosen over more deserving Group of Five schools. Which, again, would do a lot of damage to football at the Group of Five level. That's just not something I'm interested in seeing happen.
As for Saban's idea to expand the playoff, I'm against that as well, and I always will be. It's not that I don't enjoy the idea of an eight-team playoff and the games it would create, it's that we're already asking these players to play 13 games a season with the bowls. Some teams play 14 if they have a conference championship game, too. Hell, to win a national title, teams have to play 15 games.
I'm not supporting the idea of asking them to play any more games than they already do.