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#pounditSaturday, April 13, 2024

Nick Saban seemed to take shot at opt-outs after Sugar Bowl win

Nick Saban in red

Alabama coach Nick Saban looks on. Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama coach Nick Saban seemed to have a pointed message after his team’s big win over Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl on Saturday.

Saban seemed to send a message to players who opted out of bowl games, be it because of NFL Draft preparation or because they are entering the transfer portal. The Alabama coach pointedly said that the players who were with the team Saturday were “great representative(s) of the University of Alabama.”

People will read into the quote, but Saban has given some reason for everyone to do so. While Alabama notably did not have any NFL hopefuls opt out, 11 Alabama players have entered the transfer portal since the end of the regular season. Saban had said they would be allowed to play in the bowl game if they wanted to, but none of them opted to make the trip.

Saban sent an even clearer message Thursday on his weekly radio show, when he said the bowl experience had been so enjoyable because the players who were there wanted to be.

“This has been the most enjoyable (non-Playoff) bowl practice experience we have ever had — I’ve ever had,” Saban said, via Aaron Suttles of The Athletic. “But one of the things is — all the blinking lights are gone. You know what I mean by blinking lights? When you look at a Christmas tree and one light is blinking, and that’s all you look at, is the blinking light? You don’t see the beauty of all the rest of it?

“Well, when you have guys on your team sometimes that — I call them energy vampires. You use all your energy on these guys, trying to get them to do what they’re supposed to do. Those are the kind of guys that don’t end up playing in bowl games, and don’t end up doing the best things and make the best choices and decisions for the team and all that, because they’ve got other motivations, which I’m not being critical of.”

In other words, Saban does not exactly miss his outgoing transfers, and he keeps making that clear. He very much values the bowl experience and has fretted about it potentially being lost if the College Football Playoff continues to expand. That message was sent in his own way quite clearly after Saturday’s game.

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