Nick Saban wants Alabama football players to be equally motivated whether it comes from a national championship win or loss, but the veteran coach knows one is easier than the other.
“I agree that when you lose and bad things happen, from a human nature standpoint, people react a little bit better,” Saban said Thursday. “Is that what we want? No. But I think for most of us it’s a very common thing.”
So, the Crimson Tide is taking advantage of that human nature By a daily reminder in the cafeteria.
A 33-18 loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff Championship in January, Alabama retained the runner-up trophy it received in the cafeteria.
The Crimson Tide calls it the Participation Trophy. There’s a sign under it that labels it as such, offensive lineman Emil Ekior Jr. said Friday.
“Are you happy with that?” It is also marked.
“It’s a little motivation to look at it every day and it reminds you, OK, we’re really working on this to change the outcome of the season,” Ekiore said. “Ultimately we are focused on being the best we can be to get a different result.”
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Ekiore said it was difficult to turn the page from that defeat and it will always be on the players’ minds.
A participation trophy helps keep it there.
“You did it but you didn’t do anything,” Ekiore’s trophy reminds them. “You didn’t win. I wouldn’t say we’ve completely turned the page but there’s always something that motivates us externally.”
Alabama opened preseason practices Thursday and will continue through the Sept. 3 game against Utah State at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men’s basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @_nickelly