Alabama coach Nick Saban on Monday pushed back against the idea that money is the primary motivating factor in attempting to put on a college football season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saban was asked after practice about the importance of the sport, and he delivered a long and passionate response that touched on school pride, the value of competition and how things such as high school football games on Friday nights become a social center of the community.
“Now, is it more important than public safety?” he said. “No, I don’t think so. Is there a way that we can do that and keep people safe? I think a lot of people are trying to do that, and if we can do that, I think we can play. If we can’t do that, then I think someone will make the decision that maybe we shouldn’t play. But I don’t think that we should not try.”
Saban said that though he loves the fans and knows how important it is to fans that there is a season, “this is really about providing an opportunity to the players if we can do it in a safe way.”
“Everybody acts like we want to play for the money,” he said. “We want to play for the players. I want to play for the players.”
Although the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced Aug. 11 the postponement of all fall sports, the ACC, Big 12 and SEC have continued to push ahead with a college football season.
The SEC plans to play a 10-game, conference-only schedule beginning Sept. 26.
Saban, when asked about the possible benefits of a college football commissioner position, brought up that some conferences are choosing to play while others are not.
“I look at it as if it’s important that we have something or someone, some organizational body who can bring everybody together,” he said. “And I don’t know if that’s a commissioner, if it’s some council. I don’t know if it’s a committee someplace. I really don’t know the best way to do that. But I do think that it would benefit college football if the five major conferences could always sort of come together on what’s best for college football.
“I’m not saying they don’t all have those intentions. They do. But sometimes they don’t all sort of marry up, which is kind of the situation that we have this year.”