Why Alabama football gets a daily reminder of national championship loss in cafeteria

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Nick Saban wants Alabama football players to be equally motivated whether it is coming off a national championship win or loss, but the veteran coach knows one is easier than the other. 

"I do acknowledge the fact that when you lose and bad things happen, from a human nature standpoint, people seem to respond a little bit better," Saban said Thursday. "Is that what we want? No. But I think that’s probably something that is pretty normal for most of us human beings." 

So, the Crimson Tide is taking advantage of that human nature through a daily reminder in the cafeteria. 

After the 33-18 loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff championship in January, Alabama is keeping  the runner-up trophy it received in the cafeteria. 

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The Crimson Tide calls it the participation trophy. There's a sign underneath it that labels it as such, offensive linemen Emil Ekiyor Jr. said Friday. 

The sign also says, "Are you happy with it?"

"Just a little motivation to see that everyday and it reminds you, OK, this is what we're really working for to change the outcome of the season," Ekiyor said. "Focused on being the best we can be this year to ultimately have a different outcome." 

Ekiyor said it's difficult to turn the page from that loss and that it's always in the back of the players' minds. 

The participation trophy helps keep it there. 

"You made it but you didn’t do anything," Ekiyor said the trophy reminds them. "You didn’t win. I wouldn’t say we fully turned the page but there’s always going to be something that externally motivates us."

Alabama began 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 nkelly@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly