Tuscaloosa, Ala.—To Alabama football fans, it was a disaster. To the Alabama football players, it was an anti-climatic and desperately disappointing way to end a season. For Nick Saban, however, it was a teachable moment.
It was the 31-17 loss to Utah in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2. Less than a month before Alabama had been 12-0, ranked No. 1, and in position to win its 13th national championship. After losing to Florida (31-20), the eventual national champion, in one of the best SEC championship games ever played, Alabama was less than inspired to be playing in the Sugar Bowl. Utah, however, was very excited about being there and their play on the field reflected that.