When Alabama coach Nick Saban complained that the NFL distracted his players by telling them which round they were projected to be drafted in just before their college football playoff game against Ohio State, it sounded like an excuse for losing that game. But Saban says that’s not the case.
“It wasn’t an excuse at all for losing to Ohio State,” Saban told Paul Finebaum, via AL.com. “There’s no excuse. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to play. That’s my responsibility. It’s my fault. It kind of surprises me that somebody in the media would take it that way when you try to make a suggestion that would make things better, and they take it as an excuse for what you didn’t do. It’s my responsibility. I didn’t manage it well enough to get our team ready to play the game, and our team chemistry wasn’t what it needed to be, and that’s all my responsibility.”
Still, Saban thinks the NFL draft advisory board would serve players well to wait until after their season is over to give them their draft projections.
“I think that to have a December 15th deadline for when a junior can submit for a draft grade and then you get that assessment back some time right before or right after Christmas — and then you have a playoff game coming up on January 1st or 2nd — I think it’s my obligation as a coach to inform that young man when I get that information because it’s his information, not my information, to make him aware of that,” Saban said. “And we’re talking about a young person who has to deal with a lot now. . . . So we’re trying to get ready for a game and all of a sudden a guy finds out he’s a first-round draft — or a guy that thought he was a first-round draft pick finds out he’s not a first-round draft pick — and we’re trying to get ready and play a playoff game.”
Saban took some criticism for his comments, but he’s standing by them. Even as he acknowledges that if his team wasn’t ready for its playoff game, that was his own fault.