Nick Saban is no stranger to causing a stir with his words, and the Alabama head coach did just that Wednesday morning with one of his comments at SEC media days.
The Alabama head coach told reporters before his time at the podium in Hoover he wanted the NFL Draft Advisory Board to give out its draft grades to interested underclassmen after the players are done with their college seasons.
In small media session, Nick Saban said he wants NFL Draft underclass grades moved until after the season. Said it impacted Ala bowl prep
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) July 15, 2015
When Saban was asked to expand on those comments during his main media session, he tied his stance on the issue to Alabama’s loss to Ohio State in last season’s Sugar Bowl.
Saban hopes that NFL draft grades get pushed back a bit. “It’s my obligation to give him that information when I get that information.”
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) July 15, 2015
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
“Our team chemistry from the SEC Championship Game to the playoff was affected by something,” Saban added, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Staples.
Alabama offensive lineman Ryan Kelly echoed his head coach’s statement during his interview portion Wednesday.
Did NFL draft grades affect Sugar Bowl mindset for Alabama? Ryan Kelly: “To say that it didn’t affect anybody is obviously a lie.”
— Zac Ellis (@ZacEllis) July 15, 2015
Some took Saban’s comments as an excuse for the Crimson Tide’s defeat at the hands of the eventual national champions.
But later in the day, radio host Paul Finebaum asked Saban if the draft comment was an excuse for Alabama’s loss. Saban responded by saying he was simply trying to suggest a change in the draft process.
Glad Finebaum asked Saban to address whether this draft distraction thing was an excuse. Saban accepted blame for the loss. Clears that up.
— David Ching (@ESPNChing) July 15, 2015
Saban: “It wasn’t an excuse at all for losing to Ohio State. There’s no excuse.”
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) July 15, 2015
Alabama, which lost 42-35 to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl after leading 20-6 early in the second half, had three underclassmen drafted in this year’s NFL draft—wide receiver Amari Cooper, safety Landon Collins and running back T.J. Yeldon.
Cooper had nine catches for 71 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the loss while Yeldon had 10 carries for 47 rushing yards and a score of his own. Collins tied his season high with 12 tackles and added a pass breakup.
Some Alabama underclassmen last season, such as linebacker Reggie Ragland, received positive feedback from the Advisory Board but decided to stay in Tuscaloosa. He agreed with his head coach’s take on the process.
“I think it should be pushed back,” Ragland said, per Staples. “It would give people more time to make the right decisions for their lives. If you’ve got to rush it, you’re going to make a bad decision.”
All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.
Justin Ferguson is an on-call college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.