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May 11, 2012

HURT: Saban answers Delaney's dig

Wednesday, Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delaney fired a shot at the Southeastern Conference in general and Alabama in particular, a disparagement that didn't use any specific names but was as thinly clad as a Kardashian at the NBA All-Star Game. Asked about a team qualifying for the BCS Championship game without winning its division in a conference, Delaney said brusquely "I don't have a lot of regard for that team..."

On Thursday in Memphis, Nick Saban had an answer. He didn't name names, but his message was clearly addressed to a particular recipient.

"Don't be so self-absorbed," Saban said.

The context was an answer to a question about college playoff proposals based on anything other than the inclusion of the top four teams in the final BCS rankings.

"Too many people are about their own self-preservation rather than doing what's best for college football. The whole reason we are talking about doing this is for the fans, and the fans want the four best teams. To come up with a plan where, instead of having Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 playing but you have Number 1, 3, 6 and 12 or whatever, it doesn't make any sense. They don't do it in basketball, so for once, let's do what's best for college football."

Saban also stated what seems fairly obvious to most Southeastern Conference fans.

"A lot of it (in terms of alternate playoff plans) is targeted at our league," Saban said. "Last year at one point, we had LSU, Arkansas and us ranked 1-2-3 in the BCS. Two years in a row, we played Florida in the championship game and we were ranked 1-2. Some people don't like that."

Saban still favors including the "bowl structure" rather than campus sites for a possible playoff scenario, but said he would have no problem of cities in any region becoming involved in bidding for a championship.

Most of the rest of the questions preceding his talk to the Crimson Caravan were centered less on the possible BCS changes and more on Alabama's chances to play for another title.

"I think it was about two o'clock in the morning after the championship game and I was worrying about potential issues for (this) year's team and whether they were out getting into some of them," he said with a chuckle before adding that "actually, I think we gave them two days off, then had a team meeting and that's where I told them they weren't champions any more. That was a different team, and 23 seniors are gone, and 14 guys signed with the NFL. But that creates a lot of opportunity for young players."

That's probably not the sort of thing that lends fans to thinking that Alabama will be back in BCS contention, although it isn't something that can be ruled out. And the future is bright -- especially if the BCS doesn't come up with a format that disqualifies deserving teams because they happen to play in the toughest conference.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.

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