Sugar Bowl Preview: Saban says bowl game is about mindset, getting back to fundamentals for Alabama

By Hunter Ford

Alabama football coach Nick Saban met with the media on New Year’s Day to preview the January 2 Sugar Bowl game against Oklahoma.

“It’s all about mindset,” Saban said, outlining what he believes will be the key to victory. “How you reset that mindset is really important.”

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Alabama plays Oklahoma
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Alabama plays Oklahoma
Saban said one of his players had recently commented that “Our victories defeated us” when asked to respond to the disappointing season ending loss to Auburn that dashed the Tide’s hopes for a third consecutive BCS National Championship. Saban said his squad must return to working on fundamentals and doing the little things right.

“When you have a disappointment, sometimes you are more ready to respond,” he said.

Senior leaders like quarterback AJ McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley have been trying to get the Tide in a winning mood for the Sugar Bowl, according to Saban.

“Football is really important to them,” Saban said. “You can have great leadership, but you have to have people ready to respond to that. That’s the critical piece to what’s important for our team in this particular game. Is everybody going to go dig deep and get back to being the kind of players they’re capable of being in terms of being able to execute for every play of the game for sixty minutes? Until we go play, nobody really knows. That’s why we play.”

Saban was asked about a comment he recently made that he was going to try to reset the Tide’s mentality the way he did when he came to Alabama in 2007.

“When you start a program, you start with the fundamental things; everybody being responsible for their own self-determination.”

Saban said players must “buy-in” to the standards of the program and to the goals set for it. And if some players don’t do that, they shouldn’t be playing. “We got away from that, and it caught up to us,” he said. “If some players don’t buy-in, we need to play the players that do.” Saban added that he believes most Tide players have responded well to that philosophy during bowl preparations.

Asked about the significance of a game that features two of the most prestigious programs in college football history, Saban said both teams have a lot to live up to.

“We’re honored to represent the University of Alabama and the great tradition,” he said. “It’s a great responsibility for both teams to represent that tradition in a first class way. Oklahoma has certainly done that all year long in the way they’ve competed and played. It’s fantastic to be a part of something that has that tradition…it certainly makes it special to be a part of.”

The press conference ended with Saban making some tongue-in-cheek comments about the media. He was asked about his upcoming appearance as a guest analyst for the BCS National Championship game featuring Auburn and Florida State.

He said it was “good exposure for our program,” and then, with a grin, and to laughter from the audience, he added that he had a lot of respect for what the media does.

“All of a sudden I get to be on the other side. I get an opportunity to be just like you…which is what I’ve always wanted to be.”

14 thoughts on “Sugar Bowl: Nick Saban says game is about mindset, fundamentals”

  1. Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Bob Stoops’ team just beat the hell out of Nick Saban’s team loaded with number one recruiting classes full of four and five star gumps to be.

  2. Bama gives up 79 points in its last two games. Some gump said here in an earlier post that Stoops was Saban before Saban. Well after watching his last two games and looking at Saban’s bowl record, I think Saban is now Stoops.

  3. Where are the snide remarks about how other teams in the SEC suck and how Bummer is gonna beat everybody and dynasty, and 78000 national championships? Couldnt happen to a more deserving fanbase.

    1. Says the guy who represents his fanbase by gloating over someone else’s loss instead of congratulating a victory. That’s your culture. Still having fun here in New Orleans at least.

      1. Please. Dont act like Alabama fans dont gloat everytime Auburn stumbles. Half the stories on this site are about Auburns stumbles.

        And if Auburn loses Monday you guys will be on Auburn boards gloating.

  4. I wish Saban would have taken the Texas job! He raped UA for another damn contract and now he can not even beat a has been Oklahoma team! If he would have been getting the team ready instead of holding the entire Alabama football program hostage, and flirting with the UT job, this game would have beeen a piece of cake! Then isnt Nick suppose to be a secondary specialist? Where the hell was our secondary last night? How can you let a Freshman , running QB pass on you like that? We got lit up , and with HaHa probably gone, we are screwed against the pass next year! #ScrewedIn14

      1. I am very serious. With the kids leaving early and graduating Seniors, we could struggle next year.Now when I say struggle , I mean 3-4 loss season. We are losing our best run stopper in CJ, Our best DB in HaHa,and that is just the start. Even with these great players Bama’s D has gave up 73 points and almost 800 yards in the last 2 games! As a Head Coach of a Major Football program, how can you not get your team ready for the Iron Bowl , and a BCS game? Then factor in we will have a new QB next year AND in 2015. You damn right I am serious. Why is our younger players not being developed? Why are they not ready to step in and not miss a beat? This all falls back on the coaching, period.

  5. Hey Oklahoma! Run another trick play, bitch!

    Oh those sissy little dipsy doo trick a roo offenses….

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