Nick Saban, Alabama fall short in memorable national championship game

Some will look at the struggles of the Alabama offense and wonder if Saban made the right decision when he let offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin go a week before the game and replaced him with Steve Sarkisian. Saban insisted that his offense was well-prepared.

“I think the players handled it (Kiffin’s departure) very well,” Saban said. “I think we scored 31 points in the game, which I think was pretty good against a pretty good defense that actually shut out Ohio State last week.

“I think we had some drops. I think we had some tipped balls. I think there were things that we could have done better. But I thought the preparation was good, I thought the organization was good and I thought we gave our players a chance to have success.

“Was it challenging? Yes. Did everyone involved handle it extremely well? Absolutely.”

Despite Saban’s disappointment, he waded through the Clemson celebration to congratulate Tigers coach Dabo Swinney.

“Well, I appreciate that,” said Swinney, an Alabama graduate who played on the Crimson Tide’s 1992 national championship team. “He’s been incredibly gracious to me. His team played their hearts out.”

Saban had high praise for what Swinney has accomplished since taking over the Clemson program midway through the 2008 season.

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“Dabo is a friend. He’s an Alabama person,” Saban said. “He was at our university, went to our university. As disappointed as we were, I always think the class thing to do is always congratulate the other person and what they were able to accomplish. So I thought it was important to do that, especially for someone I consider a friend.”

This was the second consecutive season Saban and Swinney have met for the national championship. If Swinney has his way, this will not be the last.

“I mean, it’s just incredible what they (Alabama) have done. And they’ll be back,” Swinney said. “Heck, they’ll probably be right back next year. … Hopefully we’ll have a chance to have a rubber match. (I) would love nothing more.”

(You can follow Tony Barnhart on Twitter @MrCFB)

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