Nick Saban, the Alabama head coach, isn’t blaming players for their lack of preparedness going into the 2014 College Football Play-Off semi-final loss to Ohio State.

He’s not blaming himself. Or his coaching staff. Nope. He’s blaming the NFL.

“I just felt like, in our experience last year, our team chemistry from the SEC Championship game to the playoff game was affected by something,” he said. “I think that to have a December 15th deadline from when a junior can submit for a draft grade and then you get that assessment back sometime right before or right after Christmas, and then you have a playoff game coming up on January 1st or 2nd, and I think it’s my obligation as a coach to inform that young man when I get that information because it’s his information, it’s not my information, to make him aware of that. And we’re talking about a young person who has to deal with a lot now. We had six guys in this situation this past year and 11 the year before. 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 pick 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 to play a playoff game. I think that it would be better not to submit that information to a player until he was finished competing in college.”

In other words: If it wasn’t for the NFL we wouldn’t have lost the game against Ohio State.

Now, Saban’s probably got a point. The NFL might want to look at extending its deadline past January 15th. But then again, here’s my argument: Isn’t it a head coach’s job to get players’ minds in the game, and use the fact that they are going to the NFL as something to be excited about? Isn’t it a head coach’s job – in the same way as he’s used the fact that Alabama sends people to the NFL like crazy as a recruiting tool – to make sure his team’s playing at 100%. Just my thought.

Speaking of players, he added that Jay Coker – who’s a favorite to start when the season opens against Wisconsin – had been “outstanding” and “made a tremendous amount of improvement.” He added: “I think that a better understanding, better knowledge of the system, better knowledge of what we expect, what’s expected of him in our offense are all things that have contributed to his confidence and his performance level.”

Saban also addressed Alabama’s recent slew of domestic violence arrests, especially the one concerning defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor, who had been booted from Georgia for – you guessed it – domestic violence. “I do not regret giving players opportunities,” he said. “This is an opportunity that we gave a player that didn’t work, but in fairness to the player, he didn’t really get the kind of due process before he was judged as maybe he — as any person should. But it is what it is. We’ve all moved on. He was in zero tolerance, and therefore, we’ve moved on. We do not condone that kind of behavior in our program.” He added that because of the fact that domestic violence was such an “emotional issue” that the NCAA should be “creating as many opportunities to try to solve this problem and use this as an opportunity to try to solve this problem with young people, male and female alike, because this is an issue across the board with any emotional relationship. And I would be very supportive if, as a league or as an institution, we did some of those types of things so that we could better manage this in the future.”





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