For the college football conspiracy theorists out there, this fact might wet your whistle: every SEC opponent Alabama plays the rest of the year has a bye the week before.
Which means that every team gets an extra week of rest, an extra week of treatment in the training room, an extra week of film study, an extra week of drills and an extra week to install new plays, formations or wrinkles to their game plan.
But don’t mention a conspiracy to head coach Nick Saban, who had this to say at his regular media conference on Monday: "I know somebody is going to ask about bye weeks, so I just want to clear this up for the year. Everybody out there assumes that having a bye week is an advantage. I've always answered that question by saying, 'I don't know if it's an advantage or disadvantage.'"
He elaborated on why he thought a bye week could be a positive or negative:
"Just so everybody knows, we did research on the last five years of all other 11 teams in the SEC and how they did when they had a bye week, and their record is 29-29," Saban said. "I'm not saying I'm right and you're wrong, but the statistics kind of prove that it's not an advantage or disadvantage to have a bye week. It probably depends a lot on the circumstances."
We went back and checked Saban’s figures just to make sure he wasn’t trying to slip a fastball by the media.
The total ends up being a 27-28 record. Add in Alabama’s 4-1 SEC record off a bye, and it’s 31-29. Either way, it’s close enough to .500 that coming off a bye week doesn’t make much of a difference.
SEC Teams Other Than Alabama
1st SEC Game After Bye Week
However, there’s one more bit of information that’s worth noting. Saban has lost just eight games since becoming Alabama’s head coach in 2007. Five of the eight losses have come against teams that had an extra week to prepare, including the Crimson Tide's loss to Utah in the Sugar Bowl.
So maybe there is a distinct benefit to having an extra week before taking on the Tide. Alabama’s next six SEC opponents sure hope so.