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Nick Saban explains how this Alabama team has grown into a CFP contender

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban coaches during practice at Thomas-Drew Practice Fields in Tuscaloosa, AL on Monday, Mar 20, 2023.
Photo comes via SEC Media Portal

No one saw this Alabama football team as a College Football Playoff contender after its loss to Texas.

The college football world saw the Crimson Tide possibly having four losses because of how sluggish it looked. 

Nick Saban and his coaching staff had to grow with this group, but it has been worth it. He watched Jalen Milroe, a sophomore quarterback, earn the starting back after getting benched versus South Florida.

RELATED: Nick Saban reacts to James Madison being denied bowl eligibility

Saban witnessed his offense come together, and the defense has developed into the best second-half unit in the nation under Kevin Steele. The 72-year-old has had fun coaching and teaching this team how to win, how to handle difficult situations, and how to not focus on external factors. Alabama has earned double-digit victories since its 24-10 win over Ole Miss.

The Tide is headed to play for a Southeastern Conference Championship after beating Kentucky last week. Coach Saban explained to ESPN’s Pat McAfee on Thursday about how the Crimson Tide has transformed itself into a College Football Playoff contender.

He said this year’s team has embraced having fun again.

“What I was trying to get across was I felt this team had something to prove,” Saban said.

“We have a lot of individuals on this team that had something to prove. We had a young team, so they were still trying to develop a reputation for themselves as players as well as how our team would develop. The team was important to these guys. They like each other, they get along well. Teams in the past, a lot of our teams, had such high expectations going into the season … that took some of the fun out of it for the players. That is never good. You want to see your players happy when they win. You want to see them excited when they do well, enjoying making plays, and enjoying each other. I think that is something this team has been able to do. They have had fun, we have had fun coaching them, and they have gotten better. Hopefully, we can continue to do that.”

This Tide team is having more fun. The players are chanting coming out of the tunnel, these guys are aggressive against the opponent, both coordinators are setting athletes up for success, and the team looks dangerous at the right time.

Alabama faces Chattanooga on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium at 11:00 a.m. CT for senior day.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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