Of course, college baseball deals with this every year. The Major League Baseball draft takes place during the College World Series.
Saban also intimated that the high-tempo pace at which his team and others play in college football contributed to his team wearing out toward the end of the year.
“If we’re going to be a no huddle team like we were last year, I think we have to manage the season better with our team,” Saban said. “I think at the end of the season last year, we ran out of gas a little bit. We played more plays by 170 on defense, which is like a couple, three more games. And our players showed it.”
Alabama players accompanying Saban to Media Days did not dispute his hypotheses.
“It was probably in the back of a lot of guys’ heads,” senior center Ryan Kelly said of the NFL draft. “I didn’t even know about that stuff until after the game; I was just set on playing the game. But any time you play at the level we do, some of that stuff is going to happen; that’s the way of the world. Some guys aren’t really there mentally. That’s something to avoid this year.”
Said senior running back Kenyan Drake: “I feel like we were as focused as we could be. Obviously, Saban sees more things than I do because he’s in that situation. But Ohio State was a formidable opponent and they did their job to beat us. You know, we should’ve come with a better effort.”
Senior linebacker Reggie Ragland said the Crimson Tide’s defense was definitely “worn out” by the time it got to the national semifinals game.
“Yeah, we had a bunch of guys hurt and some guys who didn’t know if they could play,” Ragland said. “I think as a whole it trickled down and guys were tired. I know I was tired myself. We had guys hurt on the defensive side that normally help you, that hurt us a lot.”