Ohio State beat Alabama, 42-35, in last season's Sugar Bowl, advancing to the College Football Playoff national title game and eventually winning the national championship.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is obviously still a little sore about that loss, and he's not too happy with ... the NFL Draft?
Saban said Wednesday at SEC Media Days that with his players receiving their NFL Draft grades from the league two and a half weeks before the Sugar Bowl, some of them played not to get hurt in that crucial game against the Buckeyes. He even went as far to say that those draft evaluations screwed with the Tide's team chemistry.
Nick Saban wants NFL Draft grades moved back. Said grades delivered on Dec. 15, so some players played not to get hurt in Sugar Bowl
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 15, 2015
Saban says Alabama's team chemistry before Ohio State game was affected by some underclassmen's NFL draft evaluation.
— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) July 15, 2015
The NFL Draft is an odd scapegoat for a coach whose team blew a 21-6 lead and allowed 537 yards of offense.
Sure, the Tide have a lot of players drafted on an annual basis, and it's very likely that one of the main reasons these guys attend Alabama is to better their chances at an NFL future. So those players wanting to protect that future makes sense and wouldn't be surprising if it's something that happened.
But also, in addition to Saban's notion being a little insulting to those competitors, Saban's teams have won three national championships in the past six seasons. So getting players to refocus on the game instead of their draft evaluations hasn't seemed to be a problem in the past. Why was it this time around?
Saban could also try giving some credit to Cardale Jones (286 total yards and a touchdown pass) and Ezekiel Elliott (230 rushing yards and two touchdowns) and the Buckeyes defense (three interceptions and only 170 rushing yards allowed). I seem to remember them having a lot to do with the outcome of that game, too.