SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Some are already asking if another Nick Saban national championship moves him ahead of Bear Bryant as the greatest college football coach ever.

Marcus Spears already has his answer, days before Alabama plays in its fourth national championship in seven seasons and the fifth overall for Saban Monday night against Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

“To me, he’s the best coach ever,” Spears said. “Personally speaking, trying to take away the fact that I played for him and have a great relationship with him, what he’s been able to do – not just winning the national championships, (but) the other years he’s been one game away from winning them – and just the consistency and the level in which he’s had his teams play at year in and year out. It’s been tremendous.”

Speaking at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Friday, Spears, an SEC Network analyst, didn’t hold back his admiration for his former coach, who he won a national championship under in 2003 at LSU – Saban’s first.

“The fact that we’re living in this moment,” Spears said, “you hear people talk about Bear Bryant and I didn’t get a chance to see Bear Bryant coach, but when I hear people talk about Bear Bryant, I think of Bear Bryant as something that you can’t talk about college football without Bear Bryant being involved in it.

“When we’re gone, they’ll talk about Nick Saban in that light, just like we do about Bear Bryant. When you go to Tuscaloosa, you see his (Bryant’s) office set up, Saban will have his office set up somewhere. He’s a coach that’s living and coaching with a statue at his school. So it’s just a lot of things that are building towards him being in that conversation, if not being mentioned as the best ever to do it.”

At Alabama, Bryant won six national championships -- plus another at Kentucky in 1950 -- though a few are disputed. Saban has won three outright national titles at Alabama, including a fourth during his tenure at LSU. If the Crimson Tide beats Clemson on Monday, it will be Saban’s fifth title in 11 seasons coaching college football – a significantly shorter stretch than it took Bryant to accumulate his championship total.

And it’s for that reason, too, that Spears, a former defensive lineman, credits Saban as the man most responsible for the SEC’s dominance over the past decade-plus.

“When you look at what he’s done at LSU and Urban Meyer had his run at Florida, there’s been a lot of successful teams,” Spears said. “But the gauge and the barometer that’s been set is national championships because of Nick Saban. He did it at LSU, now he’s doing it at Alabama.”

Though he wasn’t asked for his score prediction during the allotted 10-minute media availability, there’s reason to believe Spears would consider Alabama his favorite against Clemson.

Asked about the message Saban gave his LSU team ahead of the 2003 national championship against Oklahoma, Spears said it wasn’t so much what the coach said then but what he had done all season leading up to that moment.

From the way he described it, it wasn’t too far off from what Alabama players under Saban have routinely said.

“Whatever he needs to incentivize you, which usually is not much because he’s done it all season long,” Spears said, “but it’s just the way you prepare and the way you play when you’re coached by Nick Saban and if you don’t prepare and play that way, you won’t play for him.”

Watch the above video for Spears’ full comments.