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Nick Saban says SEC in “better shape than it’s ever been”

In case you had any doubts about the strength of the SEC, or the SEC West in particular, Alabama head coach Nick Saban wants to set the record straight. Although the SEC’s national championship drought has stretched over two seasons-- the horror -- Saban believes the SEC is in superior shape. He did so by using the argument of SEC fans and coaches alike; playing in the SEC is a true grind that no other program from any other conference can compare against.

“I think [the SEC West] was pretty tough last year,” Saban said in a story published by “I expect it to be really tough this year. But it’s a whole lot different when you play in a league where you have to play week-in and week out and you have to play really strong competition, whether it’s in the East or the West, because I think there’s some really good teams in the East, too. So you play this kind of schedule throughout the year, then you play in an SEC championship game and then you’ve got to go play in a playoff.”

Not so long ago Saban suggested one impact of the College Football Playoff is the diminishing of other results on the field during the postseason. No longer is simply getting to a bowl game enough of an accomplishment, because the College Football Playoff overshadows everything else on the grand scheme of things. Saban still stands by his idea that the accomplishments within a conference as strong as the SEC should not go unrecognized, depending on how you measure success.

“Well, I think that makes it even more difficult because of the quality of opponents in our league. And if you look at it from top to bottom, and that’s how you’re going to evaluate a league, I think the league is in better shape than it’s ever been from a football standpoint because there’s more really good teams. Now, if you use the barometer that winning a championship is the only barometer for the league, then I guess you would have an argument against that.”

Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide won the SEC Championship Game last season to help clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff. Their playoff run was cut short immediately by Big Ten champion Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game. Ohio State went on to defeat Pac-12 champion Oregon for the national championship. But Alabama was still a good team too.

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