Steve Spurrier: Alabama could beat NFL teams

Coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks lines up with players after play against the Alabama Crimson Tide October 9, 2010 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Earlier this year, former Maryland Terrapins head basketball coach Gary Williams triggered sports bar debates nationwide when he suggested the Kentucky Wildcats could beat the NBA's Washington Wizards. (Then-Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy scoffed at the notion, calling it "absurd").

Now, South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier has fueled a similar hypothetical debate by declaring that the Alabama Crimson Tide has the talent to topple "a couple" of NFL teams.

"Alabama, gosh, they look like they could beat a couple of those NFL teams that I've watched on Sundays," Spurrier said Wednesday on ESPN's "The Dan Patrick Show." "I think a lot of the oddsmakers out there that usually know what's going on, I'd guess Alabama would be favored by a little bit."

The defending national champions are ranked No. 1 in the country, lead the nation in defense and quarterback AJ McCarron is a Heisman Trophy candidate. But could they actually hang with an NFL team like, say, the New Orleans Saints?

Spurrier is known for his colorful sound bites but he also knows a thing or two about both the college and professional ranks. He guided the Florida Gators to the 1996 national title and he also coached the Washington Redskins in 2002 and 2003. His South Carolina Gamecocks are currently ranked 8th in the BCS standings.

But another football coach who has worked at both levels dismissed Spurrier's speculation. Pete Carroll, who won two national titles at USC (one was later vacated due to NCAA violations) and is the current coach of the Seattle Seahawks, said even the most elite college football team would have no chance against any NFL team.

"It ain't even close," Carroll said Wednesday. "Alabama's got a great team and Nick (Saban) is a fantastic coach, but when you match up the interior lines against regular NFL teams on either side of the ball, it wouldn't even be close."

Either way, Alabama is surely not thinking about how they would fare against a team like the Saints. They have another team from Louisiana to worry about: They play the rival LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on Saturday.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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