HOOVER — Steve Spurrier teased Nick Saban at SEC Media Days on Tuesday, and Saban teased him back this morning.
Spurrier and Saban have engaged in friendly back-and-forth banter during their time in the Southeastern Conference. Earlier this summer, Spurrier joked that to be considered the greatest coach, Saban should go somewhere besides Alabama and win, because Alabama always wins. Spurrier backed off that statement, admitting it was harsh.
Then on Tuesday, Spurrier had a little fun at the expense of Alabama's 2011 season, which included a national title but no SEC crown: "It's easier to win the national championship than the SEC. Ask Nick Saban."
This morning, Saban was asked about Missouri coach, Gary Pinkel, a former teammate at Kent State. Pinkel had teased Saban earlier this week by saying that Saban is older. Both are 60, but Saban is six months older than Pinkel.
"I know he was up here bragging about the fact that he's younger than me," Saban deadpanned. "But, you know, there are other coaches in this league, like Steve Spurrier, that are older than me, that I look up to, that are my mentors, that I really learn a lot from, that I really want to try to be like."
With growing laughter from his audience of reporters, Saban continued with a straight face: "In fact, I was even going to consider wearing a visor on the sidelines this year. I was afraid I was going to throw it."
Spurrier, 67, has a penchant for throwing his visor during games when he gets upset.
Saban also opened by making a good-natured joke about having to come to Media Days and address reporters: "You know how I excited I am and looking forward to this event. The fact they moved it up a week really made me have a great summer, and I hope you've had a great summer."
Saban was asked later about the new college football playoff system, which begins in 2014 with four teams. Discussion has surrounded making only conference champions eligible, although SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Tuesday that won't necessarily be the case.
"I think what the fans want to see in the four-team playoff is the best teams, the four best teams in the country, get in the playoff," Saban said.
He added, "To be quite honest with you, whoever's making the statement's about conference champions is really making a statement against the SEC and against any league who has more than one good team who would qualify, trying to enhance the opportunity for somebody from their league to get in."
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