What Nick Saban said about Alabama football missing CFP

For the second time in the history of the College Football Playoff, Alabama will not be on one of the four teams vying for the national championship trophy.

Despite multiple efforts by Alabama head coach Nick Saban vouching for his team to be in the final four, the Crimson Tide (10-2) was ranked No. 5 in the final rankings on Sunday.

«We’re obviously disappointed,» Saban told ESPN on Sunday. «We wanted to see our team have an opportunity to play and get into the playoffs. We’re going to get an opportunity to play someone somewhere in a good game. That’s going to be an opportunity for our players to create value for themselves and show what kind of team we really have.»

While No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 TCU and No. 4 Ohio State will all compete for the national title, Alabama will head to New Orleans on Dec. 31 as the highest-ranked SEC team that’s not in the playoff.

«I just think it comes down to trying to establish the kind of respect that we’d like to have for this team and what we did and didn’t accomplish, what we did and didn’t do,» Saban said. «But what we do in the future, what we do moving forward is going to determine that to a large degree.»

Saban’s mention of building toward the future may come at the cost of losing a few key players when Alabama steps onto the field at the Caesers Superdome. Quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. are expected to be high first-round draft picks in April’s NFL Draft with more deciding to opt out in the coming weeks.

That doesn’t include the eight members, Jack Martin, Braylon Ingrham, Trey Sanders, Khyree Jackson, Dameion George Jr., Christian Leary, Tanner Bowles and Traeshon Holden, who have all announced they will be putting their names in the transfer portal on Monday.

When asked about the possibility of more players opting out, Saban said he couldn’t speculate on the availability of any specific play on his roster.

«I’m hopeful that players will see this as an opportunity to create value for themselves, even if they’re older players that have a chance to get drafted this year and come out, if they’re seniors or juniors,» Saban said. «For the younger guys on the team, to sort of build value for their future in terms of how they can use this as an opportunity to continue to develop and grow and get better.»

Alabama’s trip to New Orleans will end a tumultuous 2022 season from Young’s injury to losing both of its games by four points or less in tough road environments.

While the Sugar Bowl isn’t much of a consolation prize compared to the College Football Playoff, it gives the Alabama head coach another chance to assess his program with hopes of fine-tuning it for next season.

«We probably have to do a much better job of making sure you have great relationships with all your players,» Saban said. «I think it’s more difficult in the landscape of college football to be able to keep people focused because there’s a lot of external factors that can affect them. You want them to be able to stay focused on the task at hand. That’s what they control, and that’s what really builds value for them and their future. I think that’s the No. 1 thing we would like to do a better job of in the future.»