"There can never be an equal path to the championship,'' said Saban, the lone coach who voted for a nine-game league schedule in the spring. "Unless everybody plays everybody, that's the only equal path to the championship.
"Everybody doesn't play everybody in the NFL. You rotate your schedule.''
Quarterback AJ McCarron has started on two of the national title teams and been around for all three. He adhered to the seemingly ingrained philosophy in Saban's program of avoiding using that dynasty word for the Tide's current run.
"We know what we have achieved,'' McCarron said. "We don't need one word to describe what we've accomplished as a team and as a university as a whole.''
Offensive lineman Anthony Steen isn't quite so reticent on what a fourth title in five years would mean.
"I can't explain how special that would be,'' Steen said. "I know all the guys are thinking about it, but we're just focusing on the first game.''
It certainly seems as though they're not done being a contender yet. Reinforcements are on campus from the latest top-ranked recruiting class to help replace three first-round NFL draft picks. Plus, stars like McCarron, linebacker C.J. Mosley and wide receiver Amari Cooper return. Saban said this team probably has better offensive skill players.
That loaded roster and recent history make 'Bama the heavy favorite to win the SEC again.
Alabama was the overwhelming pick by league media to repeat as SEC champion. Saban noted that reporters have been right only four times in 21 years and says picking a preseason favorite is "crazy'' because there are so many factors.
"Now, if I were to go 4-17 as a coach, I would be back in West Virginia pumping gas in my daddy's gas station,'' Saban said.
And he might even be debating some other coach's legacy.