It was a busy day for Alabama head coach Nick Saban and the three Crimson Tide players taking part in SEC Media Days.
Wednesday began bright and early for the three-time defending SEC champions. Saban, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Bradley Bozeman and Calvin Ridley rolled up to the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover around 8 a.m. and hit the ground running.
Saban made the rounds through the television room and radio row with a big topic of discussion being how has the Crimson Tide recovered since last year's National Championship game loss to Clemson in Tampa. Saban said the team can't "waste a failure" when it comes to moving forward from last year's heartbreaking loss.
"I think when you lose, everybody's much more, the mindset is much more I'm willing to change," Saban said. "I want to learn. I don't want to waste a failure. What could we have done better? Because everybody's hurt by the fact that they lost, especially the way we lost that particular game on the last play of the game, but it wasn't the last play. It's what led up to the last play."
The Crimson Tide players echoed the sentiments of their head coach.
Bozeman, an offensive lineman, said this has been one of the toughest summers he's ever been through after the championship game.
It seems as if the Tide will use that loss as motivation for 2017.
Ridley says this team is ready to hit the field this year and show what they are capable of doing.
“We definitely need that [the motivation]," Ridley said. "When you lose a big game like that, you definitely come into the next season with a chip on your shoulder. We’re very excited to get out there."
This will be a big year on field for the Alabama offense.
Alabama returns several key pieces of its offense, such as: Bo Scarborough, Damien Harris, and of course, Jalen Hurts.
"This is the first time that we've had a returning starter at quarterback since 2013, which creates the opportunity for that guy to develop in the things that he needs to do better, which Jalen has done a good job in the off season of becoming a better passer, understanding the passing game better, and we have some good running backs, and we have some good receivers and skill guys, and the offensive line has developed nicely," Saban said.
“Our offense has come out clicking," Bozeman said. "It’s not about just the quarterback, or just the running back, or just the line. It’s about the whole unit. It’s about the whole machine. If one part isn’t running right, the whole thing’s not running. It’s not just one aspect.”
A new NCAA rule that will probably hit home with Saban is officials now have the power to issue an immediate 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct if a coach steps on the field of play to argue a call. Saban and some of the players joked on how "difficult" that is going to be for the head coach.
"Well, we've always had a get-back coach and we think we need more than one maybe," Saban said. "But, look, I think some of the things that's happened in college football should not be tolerated. Steve Shaw showed us a lot of examples of coaches going all of the way out to the hash mark. And I think those coaches should have been penalized. And if those coaches were penalized, and we didn't have sort of that kind of tolerance for that kind of behavior, maybe we wouldn't need a rule like this that is really sort of a sledgehammer."
"I think Coach Cochran is going to need a chain, or something to pull to keep Coach Saban off the field because Coach Saban is always on the field," said Fitzpatrick. "It's going to be hard for him."
We will see if Saban can keep his cool on the sideline when Alabama opens the season against Florida State in Atlanta on Sept. 2.
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