As much as college football coaches preach about moving on to the game in front of them, past results have a history of lingering in their minds.
Even Nick Saban, when not sparring with assistants, tends to dwell on losses and perhaps none was more painful to the Crimson Tide head coach than losing to Clemson in the final second of the national title game. While the future Hall of Famer is clearly focused on the 2017 season in Tuscaloosa, it seems a part of him still can’t get past what happened this past January.
“I’ll never get over it because you never do with those kind of losses,” Saban told ESPN. “I never got over the returned field goal at Auburn. I never got over playing poorly against Ohio State and losing that game late. And then in this game, we didn’t play very well, and Clemson did when they had to. That’s what eats at you.
“Something happened to our team from the SEC championship game to the playoff. You look at the Clemson game, and our really good players didn’t play very well. But Clemson was a damn good team. They were the best team we played against with the best quarterback, and where we needed to play well, we didn’t.”
Saban isn’t exactly breaking any news with that kind of message and continued to take blame for not getting the team ready to play after winning the conference title. He also downplayed losing offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin after the Peach Bowl and bringing in Steve Sarkisian, noting it didn’t have as much of an impact as many thought given how defensive lapses down the stretch plagued Alabama in the title game.
The Tide wrap up spring football on Saturday with their eyes focused on avenging that loss and getting back to the College Football Playoff once again but Saban, true to his self, cautioned that getting back to the promised land wouldn’t be a walk in the park.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” he added about this year’s team.