TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Nick Saban has a message to the poll voters who will help determine whether Alabama plays for a national title: Be "fair.''
The Crimson Tide coach, who of course has a rooting interest, said Monday that voters should not vote against his team just to avoid a rematch with No. 1 LSU or because Alabama didn't win its conference title.
"If somebody does that, I guess it's their choice to do it,'' Saban said. "It's a free country. But the whole thing should be based on who's the best two teams. Isn't that what it's supposed to be? If it's not on that, then it doesn't matter whether we've played before or any of that.
"Who's the best two teams? That's the question. If the decision gets made on that, I'll be fine with that. If it gets made on some of this other stuff, that's not fair. It's not fair to the players, and it wouldn't be fair to their players either. It wouldn't be fair to anybody.''
Saban is spending the week recruiting and perhaps making a national TV appearance or two to state his case. Beyond that, he calls it "kind of limbo week.''
"We don't know what the future holds for us, but I think it's going to be a huge stage regardless of what happens in terms of the BCS game,'' Saban said.
The Tigers, meanwhile, are gearing up to play No. 12 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game. The stage seems to be set for a rematch after LSU's overtime win in Tuscaloosa.
Saban - sporting a crimson blazer with crimson and white tie to Monday's news conference instead of his typically more casual attire - returned to his office from recruiting for an afternoon team meeting with no set date to start bowl practice. Then he was heading back out on the road for a week of trying to sway more blue-chippers to join the fold.
Saban did say he hasn't been contacted by any other schools interested in talking to defensive coordinator Kirby Smart about a head coaching position. Smart has been reported as a potential replacement for Houston Nutt at Mississippi.
"If they do, we'll deal with it when they do,'' Saban said.
Besides recruiting, Saban said his agenda also includes more mundane duties like coaching up his dog to stay off the couch and in the yard. There was no item marked, Ponder how nice it would be to trade places with LSU.
"Why would you waste your time thinking about things that aren't real, that can't happen?'' he said. "I've got enough problems. I've got a dog at home that since football season started has not been trained one bit, that has been spoiled rotten by you know who (wife Terry).
"I've got work at home, too. I've got to get a dog trained.''
Tailback Trent Richardson isn't shy about wishing the Tide could play in Atlanta Saturday, even if it means one more tough game to overcome in order to play for the big prize.
"When you have a ball team like we have and a ball team like LSU has, you can't take anything from them, but you can't take anything from us,'' Richardson said. "I do wish we were on two different sides. We do want to play in that ball game.
"To have that game we're not playing in, that takes a lot from us. Hopefully we'll play in the national championship game.''
Noseguard Josh Chapman said all the Tide can do is wait. In the meantime, he's not eagerly anticipating the SEC championship game or the one that could more directly affect Alabama's chances, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State.
His game of the week: alma mater Hoover versus Prattville for the Class 6A state championship.
"That's the only game I'm looking forward to,'' Chapman said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.