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Nick Saban envisions changing regular-season schedule, College Football Playoff

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Saban wants a drastic change in scheduling (1:02)

Nick Saban joins Michael and Jemele to share his idea that all Power 5 teams should only schedule Power 5 opponents to generate more fan interest and help TV revenue. (1:02)

Alabama coach Nick Saban has a theory for the College Football Playoff that he thinks is "so far out" that nobody will listen to him.

"We should play all teams in the Power 5 conferences," Saban said Wednesday. "If we did that, then if we were going to have bowl games, we should do the bowl games just like we do in the NCAA basketball tournament -- not by record but by some kind of power rating that gets you in a bowl game. If we did that, people would be a little less interested in maybe bowl games and more interested in expanding the playoff."

Saban, whose program has been in all three CFP semifinals and won a national championship in 2016, said the biggest issue in scheduling is the six-win threshold for bowl eligibility -- a standard he said "holds the game down, quality-wise."

"You eliminate the six wins to get in a bowl game and now you can have a different kind of scheduling that is more fan interest, more good games, bring out the better quality team," he said, "and whether you expand the playoff or have a system where it's like now -- we take the top 12 teams and decide what bowl game they go to -- just take them all.

"In this scenario, there would be more opportunity to play more teams in your league, as well as to have more games that people would be interested in. We all play three or four games a year now that nobody's really interested in. We'd have more good games, more public interest, more fan interest, better TV."

Saban suggested a 10-game SEC schedule, for example, plus two Power 5 nonconference opponents during the regular season. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher on Tuesday expressed similar thoughts to ESPN about nonconference scheduling in the playoff era.

"There's not enough games of interconference play to help judge how you're rating each league," Fisher said. "We get caught up in 'that league's the best league this year.' For instance, last year it was Big Ten, Big Ten. All of a sudden the ACC spanks them to death in bowl games, major games, big games. But maybe during that time of the year, [the Big Ten] was better. I think they do have a hard job because of only picking four teams."

Florida State and Alabama will open the season at 8 p.m. ET on Sept. 2 in Atlanta -- the same site as this season's national championship game on Jan. 8.

"One of us gets a huge leg up and the other almost has to be perfect the rest of the year," Fisher said. "If you want these big opening games, are you going to reward them if it doesn't turn out right and it's still a very competitive football game, making it worthwhile for you to do it?"

Saban said regardless of how the CFP selection committee feels about it, he would prefer to play FSU or another big-time Power 5 program than cruise through a weaker nonconference lineup.

"I would rather play Florida State," Saban said. "Not just Florida State but a good team in the beginning of the season because I think it does a lot for your team and your team's chances of being successful. First of all, you have a better offseason when the players have a big challenge in the first game. It really tells you regardless of the result where your team is, legitimately.

"And if you play a really weak team and you win the game 45-7, you still don't really know for sure if your team is really good or not good. You know exactly what you have to work on to get better, where your strengths, where your weaknesses are, maybe some changes you need to make. And I think it really helps you when you go play big games in your conference, especially on the road down the road."

Saban said he realizes it's also a gamble when it comes to the playoff.

"If we lose two games this year and still win the SEC and don't get in the playoff, I understand how it works," he said. "There will probably be more teams that lost one game or no games, who will have a better opportunity to get in than we will. I'm not saying I'm going to be happy about that, but I understand that. I get that. But if it goes based on strength of schedule and how many good teams you beat, then that is the best way to pick the teams to be in the playoff."

Saban also said there is too much time between the conference championship games and the playoff.

"It's very hard for players to go 27 days without playing a game and then go into playoffs," he said. "Really hard."