If It Isn’t On ‘Love Boat,’ Saban Is Adrift

The time between the last college football game of one season and the first football game of the next season has to be filled with football talk. Some of the drama is more superficial . Unquestionably the biggest story of the off-season has revolved around the upcoming College Football Playoff.

An adjunct of that evolution in college football is the impending change in NCAA structure to create a so-called Power Five – the five most dominant college football conferences – with more autonomy within the NCAA. Although there will be a vote later this week, the outcome is certain considering the alternative is for those five conferences to break off and form a new organization.

Still, it is interesting to most who follow college football. Not so much to Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. And to hear him tell it, he hasn’t been able to keep up with it because Ms. Terry, aka Mrs. Saban, controls the remote.

Although it can be taken with salt, Saban said Tuesday that he hasn’t been keeping up with the NCAA reorganization developments that would provide autonomy for the Southeastern, Atlantic Coast (including Notre Dame), Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big 12 conferences.

“I don't really know about the Power Five thing,” he said. “You probably know more about than I do. Once we start practice, I don't really read the paper. I don't really know what's flying around out there.

“It's late when I get home. I don't know how it is at your house, but I don't get to pick what Ms. Terry and I watch on TV. Whatever Ms. Terry wants to watch, that's what we ... If it's ‘The Love Boat,’ I gotta watch ‘The Love Boat,’ so it doesn't matter.

“I don't get to watch SportsCenter.”

Saban was more serious about something that does concern him, or at least concerns recruiting. Although there was a lot of grandstanding concerning the change of scholarships from one-year renewable to four years, Saban said there isn’t a practical difference.

Alabama, of course, is on board with the four-year scholarships.

Saban explained, “I think that the perception out there is that the four-year scholarship is better for the player. If that's the perception, that's okay with me. We certainly do that here because we want our families and people who are involved in our program to feel the utmost security.

“But when you were on a one-year scholarship, you couldn't just take a guy's scholarship away just to take it away. It had to be something that was sort of university policy and athletic department policy or something that the guy violated to be able to take it away. The guy had a one-year scholarship that was automatically renewed for four or five years.

“Now, even though a guy has a four-year scholarship, he still can have his scholarship taken away for the same violation of the same kind of rules.

“Perception-wise, I think a lot of people think it's better for the players, and therefore that's what we love to do and we want them to feel comfortable.

“But in reality, there's not a whole lot of difference.

“There's still a lot of responsibility that a player has to do what's right in terms of his part of the bargain, in terms of how he represents himself, his family, the university, the kind of student he is. It has nothing to do with athletic ability.”

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