Nick Saban: 'I think the Big Ten is a really good conference'

Alabama coach Nick Saban speaks to reporters after the NCAA college football team's scrimmage, Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt)

Alabama coach Nick Saban speaks to reporters after the NCAA college football team's scrimmage, Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Tuscaloosa, Ala

Alabama coach Nick Saban speaks to reporters after the NCAA college football team's scrimmage, Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt)

Alabama head coach Nick Saban was the featured speaker at the 25th annual Pigskin-Roundball Spectacular in suburban Cincinnati Wednesday night, and after reminiscing about his time coaching around Ohio at Kent State, Ohio State and Toledo and telling a Woody Hayes story, Saban fielded questions from the audience.

According to Cleveland.com, one fan asked how long it would take for “the Big Ten to get up to SEC standards?”

Saban opted to keep things “politically correct,” as he put it, and cited a deeper recruiting base in the South.

“I think you have great high school football here in Ohio, but there’s a lot of really good players in the Southeast and I think there’s a lot of passion for those players, and as that league has accomplished a lot of success through the years, more and more people on a national basis want to come there,” Saban said.

Saban added that college football has been worshipped in the South for decades while other parts of the country focused more on the professional game.

“Everybody (in the South) grows up a college football fan,” Saban said. “There’s no Cincinnati Bengals fans. There’s no Cleveland Dawg Pound. There’s no other choice for people in terms of how they grew up. So that passion for athletics, especially football, is really, really strong.

“I think we have a little bit of an advantage when it comes to the recruiting base we have in the Southeast. But I think the Big Ten is a really good conference. And I wanted to be quoted on that.”

Saban made it a point to compliment the Big Ten, a league he coached in for many years, including a stint as Michigan State's head coach, but anyone who follows college football knows that the conference has a ways to go to compete with the SEC.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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