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Expanded CFP won’t eliminate ‘speculation,’ Nick Saban says


Dec 30, 2023 #Sports


PASADENA, Calif. — As Alabama coach Nick Saban looks ahead to the expansion of the College Football Playoff next year from four to 12 teams, he doesn’t expect much to change.

“The big games are going to be the big games,” Saban said on Saturday, “and there’s always going to be speculation of who the best 12 teams are just like there’s speculation now who the best four teams are.”

Speaking ahead of Monday’s Rose Bowl Game presented by Prudential against Michigan, Saban compared the selection process to the men’s NCAA basketball tournament, which has 68 teams participating.

“Then you have a two-hour show talking about who got in and who didn’t,” Saban said.

Making yet another comparison, Saban said he looks at it “no different” than the NFL playoffs.

“People want to win the division,” he said. “They don’t want to be the wild-card team. If you have a chance to be a wild-card team that’s better than not being in the playoffs. Everybody is fighting for home-field advantage. I think all those things will exist in college football, as well.”

While Saban didn’t foresee playoff games being minimized, he has repeatedly spoken about the impact of the playoff on non-CFP games.

“I think the bigger the playoff gets, the more it minimizes bowl games,” he said. “One of the great traditions of college football for many years was if you had a great season, you got to go to a bowl game. It’s great for the players. They got a lot of positive reinforcement. Maybe you didn’t win a championship but you had a good team. It was great for the fan base.

“As soon as we started having playoffs — this is new and I’m not complaining about that — it started to minimize the importance of bowl games. The more we expand the playoffs — which I’m not against, I’m for — it minimizes the importance of bowl games.”

Dozens of would-be NFL prospects in non-CFP games have opted out, choosing not to compete and instead beginning their preparation for the NFL draft.

Even the Orange Bowl, a so-called New Year’s Six bowl, will have multiple stars watching from the sidelines.

Florida State, despite finishing the season undefeated and winning the ACC championship, landed outside the playoff at No. 5.

The Seminoles will be without star edge Jared Verse, receivers Johnny Wilson and Keon Coleman, and running backs Trey Benson and Jaheim Bell.


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