Nick Saban still isn’t over Alabama’s 35-31 National Championship loss to Clemson— and he never will be.
In an interview with ESPN, Saban said ultimately, the Crimson Tide just didn’t show up to the National Championship game the way they should have.
Alabama led Clemson 24-14 to start the fourth quarter, but Clemson’s 21-point fourth quarter won them the game. The Tigers scored the winning touchdown with 0:01 remaining in the game.
"I'll never get over it because you never do with those kind of losses," Saban told ESPN. "I never got over the returned field goal at Auburn. I never got over playing poorly against Ohio State and losing that game late. And then in this game, we didn't play very well, and Clemson did when they had to. That's what eats at you. We didn't play that great against Washington, either (in a 24-7 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win) in the semifinal.
"Something happened to our team from the SEC championship game to the playoff. You look at the Clemson game, and our really good players didn't play very well. But Clemson was a damn good team. They were the best team we played against with the best quarterback, and where we needed to play well, we didn't."
Deshaun Watson, a top quarterback prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft, completed 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in Clemson’s win. Watson also rushed for 43 yards and one touchdown.
One obvious change between the Crimson Tide’s playoff game against Washington and the National Championship game was the change at offensive coordinator. Former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin left for his head coaching job at Florida Atlantic and Steve Sarkisian stepped in. Sarkisian has since become the Falcons’ offensive coordinator.
ESPN reports Saban felt it was “too cumbersome” for Kiffin to balance his FAU job and the National Championship game.
"We scored more points in that game against a better defense than we did the first playoff game," Saban said to ESPN. "At the end of the day, we played 80 plays of defense and gave up 14 points, and Clemson scored three times in the fourth quarter. So, what's that have to do with the offensive coordinator?"
Alabama wraps up spring football practice with it’s annual A-Day spring football game on Saturday.