Posed with what was meant as a light-hearted question from one of ESPN’s myriad of made-for-TV debate shows, Nick Saban wasn’t in the mood for jokes.
The veteran coach refused to be pulled into the fray of the recent discussion about which college football conference is best. Saban sternly reminded his hosts on ESPN’s “First Take” that those types of discussions are media-created controversy.
On that front, Saban was only partially correct. For it was Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher that crowed unprompted about the ACC’s superiority at the conference’s recent media days.
Swinney, in his opening remarks, declared the ACC “the best conference in college football,” while Fisher said it was “the premier league in college football.”
Still, Saban didn’t travel to ESPN to field largely unprovable questions. He doesn’t see much utility in those.
“These kind of arguments are creations that you make in the media so you have something to talk about,” Saban said. “It means nothing to me, it means nothing. I respect the players in the league, I respect the coaches in the league, I respect what they’ve been able to accomplish and I respect the fact that they beat us last year for the national championship. I respect all these folks, and there’s nothing personal in this for me, but from my standpoint, whoever’s best makes no difference.”
To his point, there is no trophy given annually to the “best conference.” The only way the topic would ever come up in a meaningful way is if a one-loss SEC team was being compared to a one-loss team from another conference for the seeding into the College Football Playoff.
Saban did, however, speak highly of the SEC.
“I love our league, I think it’s a great, competitive venue,” Saban said. “We have great attendance, great fan interest, we have lots of players drafted, lots of All-Americans, we won a lot of national championships. If someone else does better than that, so be it.”
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.