ATLANTA — Alabama coach Nick Saban didn’t even have to be asked about the College Football Playoff on Saturday night.
The Tide coach, after expressing appreciation and respect for his players’ 35-28 come-from-behind win in the SEC title game, quickly addressed Georgia
“Based on the teams that we’ve played this year, I think this team deserves to be in the playoff as well,” Saban said. “I sure as hell don’t want to play them again, but that’s the best compliment I can give you or give them.”
Saban reflected back six years ago, too, back when Alabama beat a Mark Richt-coached Georgia team 32-28 in the SEC Championship game en route to a 42-14 beatdown over Notre Dame in the national title game.
“We played in a game here where we won 32-28, when we played Notre Dame in a National Championship Game,” Saban said, “and Georgia was the best team.”
Saban said Georgia’s coaches created problems for Alabama that led to several adjustments.
“They had formationed us in a couple things that confused our players a little bit, and sometimes when your players get confused, then they’re confused on the things that they did practice,” Saban said. “So I think we just needed to get everybody settled down, and making the right adjustments, and I think we played a little better in the second half because of it.
“We still gave up a couple big plays, but they missed a field goal and only scored one touchdown, so that was really good.”
Saban said Alabama was in its “punt safe” formation when Georgia coach Kirby Smart called for the fake punt, so the Tide had the right personnel to defend it once they recognized something was amiss.
“They were screaming on the bench the formation they were in, the second guy was eligible, (and) we were afraid we weren’t going to get them covered up, but we did,” Saban said. “We were in punt safe, so we had the defense out on the field. You know, most of the time when you leave your defense out there, you can defend most of the fakes, and our guys did a good job.
“It was a big play in the game because it gave us really good field position, and it allowed us to score the winning touchdown.”
Saban reiterated the he believes Georgia deserves a CFB Playoff spot when asked point blank.
“Well, I commented on that before, but yes, I think based on what I’ve seen, they’re one of the four best teams in the country,” Saban said. “And I also said I don’t want to play them again, which is the ultimate compliment, I think, that I can give them.
“The players play hard. They’re well coached. They’ve got a good system. Look, we’ve got a good football team, and they gave us a lot of problems out there today. If that’s any measure, if you lose by seven points to the No. 1 team, you shouldn’t slip too far.”
Georgia football SEC Championship Game