Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Sports

Alabama's Nick Saban: 'It's never okay to lose a game'

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban doesn't want to hear that maybe Alabama can lose in the Southeastern Conference championship game and still get into the playoffs.

It's a distinct possibility for the top-ranked Crimson Tide going into Saturday's game against No. 15 Florida, but one they don't want to test. A team that's won 24 consecutive games and beaten 16 straight SEC opponents doesn't go into any game accepting losing.

"You all want to put everything on the playoffs, man," Saban told reporters Monday, his voice rising. "That's all you care about. You don't care about bowl games, you don't care about any teams in the country that aren't in the playoffs. I don't know. If we don't win this game, maybe we throw a stink bomb out there, maybe we don't get in the playoffs.

"I don't know. You guys have all the answers to that, but I don't. All I know is that if we play and we play well, we control our own destiny in terms of what we do. So I'd really rather not have any more questions about 'Is it OK to lose this game?' It's never OK to lose a game."

The Tide (12-0) isn't expected to lose this one, either. Alabama is a 24-1/2-point favorite over the Gators (8-3), who won their second straight SEC East title.

Perfection is hard to attain in the SEC, even in a down year for the league. Saban has brought four national championships to Tuscaloosa but only one unbeaten team, 14-0 in 2009. He has won his last eight national or SEC championship games, but did lose in the playoff semifinals two years ago.

Alabama is riding the third-longest winning streak in both Alabama and SEC history, prevailing by an average of 24.8 points per game. The Tide won 28 straight games twice, from 1978-80 and 1991-93.

"Anybody who says that you can afford to lose a game doesn't know what it's like to play sports," tailback Damien Harris said after Saturday's 30-12 win over Auburn.

Every other national contender — from Ohio State to Clemson and Washington, Michigan and Wisconsin — has lost at least once. Conference championships are among the criteria the selection committee is instructed to emphasize.

Before the playoffs, this was essentially a semifinal game in 2008 and 2009 when Florida and Alabama split a pair of 1 versus 2 matchups. The winner went on to win a national title.

"I think ultimately it was the national semifinal," said Gators coach Jim McElwain, a former Tide offensive coordinator.

This one might not be a must-win game for Alabama, which is seeking its fifth SEC championship under Saban. Every Tide game these days has that feel, though.

Alabama has won its last three games by a combined 112-18 or allowed a touchdown in more than 13 quarters. It is clearly the strongest resume nationally — so far.

Guard Ross Pierschbacher worked hard not to brag when asked if Alabama would need to contribute some mistakes to the opponent to lose a game.

"I think we have the mind-set that we can only beat ourselves," Pierschbacher said. "I'll just leave it at that."

The most emphatic way for the Tide to prove its playoff worthiness is to beat Florida. Otherwise, Alabama must endure the wait-and-see mode like other hopefuls.

"You don't want your season to have to come down to a committee choosing your stakes," tight end O.J. Howard said. "We've just got to take care of business ourselves on the field and we control our own destiny."

Comments

Sports on TV/radio for Tuesday, August 14

TODAYBaseballBrewers at Cubs2 p.m.MLBRays at Yankees7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMRed Sox at Phillies7 p.m.MLBMarlins at Braves7:30 p.m.FSFSoccerMexican: Zacatecas at Leon7:50 p.m.ESPNDMexican: Monterrey at Puebla9:55 p.m.ESPNDSoftball, Little League World Se...
Updated: 5 hours ago
WWE star, Pasco resident Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart dies at 63

WWE star, Pasco resident Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart dies at 63

WESLEY CHAPEL — Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, a former star with World Wrestling Entertainment who was known for his maniacal laugh, long goatee beard and powerhouse moves, died on Monday. He was 63.The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said Mr. Neidhart fel...
Updated: 6 hours ago
What’s in the way of the Rays’ rebuild

What’s in the way of the Rays’ rebuild

So here's the good news.The Rays are 60-58 after taking two out of three in Toronto. Their so-called "tanking'' plan isn't really a total tank job after all. Call it a rebuilding project, and this rebuilding project looks way ahead of schedule. Not o...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bulls secondary brimming with Hillsborough talent

Bulls secondary brimming with Hillsborough talent

Based on the daily scrimmage periods open to media, the Bulls appear poised to brandish a predominantly Hillsborough County secondary in 2018.Senior Mazzi Wilkins (Plant) and sophomore Mike Hampton (Hillsborough) appear set at the starting cornerback...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning enters three-year deal with ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears

Lightning enters three-year deal with ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears

The Lightning has entered into a three-year agreement to make the Orlando Solar Bears its primary ECHL affiliate starting this season, the teams announced today in a joint news release.The ECHL is considered the top "AA" hockey league in North Americ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Florida State football quick hits: Road trip bonding and quarterback battle

Florida State football quick hits: Road trip bonding and quarterback battle

BRADENTON — Although the recruiting advantage of Florida State's trip to IMG Academy is debatable, some of the other perks of the road trip are hard to deny.Like the camaraderie that comes with the bus ride down.QB Bailey Hockman said some...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Willie Taggart doesn’t see recruiting perks in FSU’s IMG Academy trip

Willie Taggart doesn’t see recruiting perks in FSU’s IMG Academy trip

BRADENTON — Florida State coach Willie Taggart presumably had many off-campus sites where he could have taken the Seminoles for this week's portion of preseason camp.So why IMG Academy?"Look around…" Taggart said.There's the sparking...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Lightning to be featured 12 times on NBC or NBCSN this season

Lightning to be featured 12 times on NBC or NBCSN this season

The Lightning's Feb. 2 game against the New York Rangers is among 13 NHL games league-wide that will be featured on NBC this season. The Sunday night game at Madison Square Garden will be the "NHL Game of the Week".In all, 12 Lightning...
Published: 08/13/18
Brent Grimes happy to be back, healthy at Bucs practice

Brent Grimes happy to be back, healthy at Bucs practice

Veteran cornerback Brent Grimes had returned to practice in a limited capacity Saturday, but Monday saw him back in 11-on-11 full-squad work for the first time in nearly two weeks."We want Brent Grimes out there. He's our best cover guy, so it's grea...
Published: 08/13/18

Madden 19 predictions: The Bucs are bad, the Browns are good and the world might be ending

You thought the Buccaneers’ playoff drought was going to end last season. Instead, they lost six of their first eight games and limped to a 5-11 finish.If only someone or something had warned you.Actually, something did.A video game.While every...
Published: 08/13/18