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May 1, 2014

Saban says eight-game schedule not an advantage

Nick Saban is in favor of a new rule in effect beginning in June that will allow coaching staffs increased access to their student-athletes during the summer.

The rule, which was adopted by the NCAA Board of Directors in October, allows football players to spend eight hours a week (during June and July) preparing for the season with weight training and conditioning coaches, of which two hours every week can be used for film review.

"I think it's a good rule for player development," Saban said. "Our players do work out with our strength and conditioning coaches to this point, but I think, especially for young players, to have an opportunity to visit with their coach for a couple of hours and be able to learn is probably real advantage for the development of young players."

In order to participate in organized meetings with coaches or team activities during the summer, players must be enrolled in summer classes or meet "specific academic benchmarks," according to the NCAA.

The rule was previously passed and is currently in effect for men's and women's basketball.

"The way we'll implement it is we have coaches who are on duty all the time in the summertime, so those coaches and the (graduate assistants) will spend a little bit of time with those guys, probably a little bit each day trying to bring them along," Saban said.

Eight games vs. nine games

One after the other Thursday afternoon coaches from the Pac-12 conference took turns talking down the Southeastern Conference's recent decision to stick with eight conference games rather than go to nine leagues games, which the Pac-12 plays.

Stanford coach David Shaw was among the more vocal coaches, saying SEC schools shouldn't shy away from its own conference.

"I've been saying this for three years now: I think if we're going to go into a playoff and feed into one playoff system, we all need to play by the same rules," Shaw said. "Play your conference. Don't back down from playing your own conference. It's one thing to back down from playing somebody else. But don't back down from playing your own conference."

Saban, who was the lone supporter for a nine-game conference schedule, says he doesn't see an advantage in playing eight.

"I don't really think so," he said. "You all know that I was sort of an advocate of playing nine games and playing one more besides that from the so-called Big Five conferences so that we'd all have 10 games. I think that I look at it from a fan perspective more than anything else.

"When it comes to strength of schedule and what has been done in the BCS to this point, the SEC usually ranks up there pretty well and it actually enhances our rating because the quality of teams that we have in our league and what people have done with their out-of-conference schedule."

McCarron a first-rounder?

Earlier this week AJ McCarron said he's been given feedback that he could be chosen as early as the first round of next week's NFL Draft.
Saban said it doesn't matter where McCarron is chosen, it's what he does after that counts.
"I think he's going to be a very successful professional quarterback," Saban said. "I think sometimes these things are time and circumstance. Everybody talks about five really good quarterbacks in this draft. They may not all get drafted in the first round. I think people put too put emphasis on where you get drafted. I think you should look at the big picture of what do you do with your career after you get drafted.
"Everybody was disappointed that Eddie Lacy didn't get drafted in the first round, but he got drafted in the second round and made Rookie of the Year. I think the big picture says where ever you get drafted that's just where your opportunity is, now what are you going to do with it, what are you going to make of it."

Reach Aaron Suttles at [email protected] or 205-722-0229.

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