Do Power Five conference college football coaches only want to play teams from the Power Five conferences? The answer is yes, though it's far from a resounding one.
ESPN surveyed all 65 coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC when they were in Bristol, Conn., doing preseason television appearances. 30 of the 65 coaches said they'd prefer to play the other 64 Power Five teams while 23 wanted to play teams from all of the Football Bowl Subdivision. 12 coaches were undecided.
As autonomy reforms and strength of schedule have become hot topics, the idea of the Power Five teams playing each other exclusively has gained traction. Currently, most teams from the Power Five conferences play a majority of non-Power Five teams on their nonconference schedules.
Starting in 2016, all SEC teams will be required to play a team from a Power Five conference (or Notre Dame). This year, 10 of the SEC's 14 schools play a Power Five team. The ACC is also adopting a similar model in the future. However, under the current model of college football, playing Power Five teams is imperative for many teams outside the big 65. The games against big teams can result in big paydays.
Because of the possibility of Power Five teams only scheduling each other in the future, SMU coach June Jones raised the, uh, interesting idea of the other FBS conferences playing in the spring.
Alabama's Nick Saban said fans want to see Power Five teams play each other. This year, Alabama plays West Virginia to open the season.
"We need to be more concerned about the people who support the programs and the university and come and see the games," Saban told ESPN. "Those are the most important. But we never think about that."
Yes, Saban's vote was one of the 30. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was not. Over the weekend, he rightfully said that playing a team like East Carolina, which is in the American Athletic Conference, is tougher than playing a team at the bottom of the Big Ten.
The Pac-12 was the conference with the most voting disparity. Seven coaches voted along with Saban, while four were undecided. The only coach opposed to playing strictly Power Five teams was Arizona's Rich Rodriguez.
To view the voting results for each coach, click here.
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