TUSCALOOSA — After Saturday’s shocking 29-24 loss to Texas A&M at home, Alabama football coach Nick Saban abandoned one of his most important rules.
He always tells his players they have 24 hours to enjoy a win or absorb a loss, and after that, they need to look ahead. Minutes after his previously unbeaten, No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide lost to a gritty Texas A&M squad making its first trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium, Saban already was telling his players to look to the future.
Even though this loss might have sunk Alabama’s hopes of repeating as national champions, it hasn’t ruined a shot at the conference title. A win over Auburn in two weeks will secure the Western Division’s berth in the SEC Championship Game, and that’s what Saban is selling his players.
“This team still has an opportunity to win the West, go to the SEC Championship game and have a chance to win the championship game,” Saban said. “There is still a lot for this team to play for, and a lot for them to set their mind to and recommit themselves to.”
Immediately after exiting the locker room, the players seemed to buy Saban’s way of thinking.
“Losing this game, it feels like somebody died,” Alabama center Barrett Jones said, “but the season isn’t over. We still have a chance to play for the SEC championship.”
As for the national title race, a loss this late in the year likely will put Alabama out of the hunt for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. Only three more weeks remain in the season, and when the updated BCS standings are released later today, the Crimson Tide will drop out of the No. 1 spot.
But Saban isn’t giving up on a national championship, either.
“Two of the three national championship teams that I’ve coached both lost a game,” said Saban, referring to his 2003 LSU squad and last year’s Alabama team.
For today, however, Saban is working to get his players to recover from their first loss of the year, which also was only the fifth in four seasons.
“Our players will recommit themselves and do the things that they need to do to in order to finish the season the right way, and hopefully have an opportunity to accomplish something of significance with this particular team,” he said.
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