No matter how many times we’ve seen the rage of Alabama coach Nick Saban play out in viral video clips, neither the shock value nor the humor ever quite goes away. There he is, maybe 5 feet, 7 inches on a good day, so intimidating and so full of rage, commanding both the attention and the fear of everyone in his orbit.
“We expect him to go off like that when we do something undisciplined,” Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams said.
Even in the midst of Alabama’s comfortable 45-34 victory over Oklahoma in Saturday’s College Football Playoff semifinals, Mount Saban experienced a few eruptions, sparing nobody around him. The biggest casualty may have been his headset, which was slammed to the ground near the end of the second quarter after three consecutive procedure penalties turned a likely touchdown into a field goal.
But for Saban, these aren’t just random expressions of emotion. Everything he does is purposeful. And the message was clear: If Alabama is going to win its sixth national title under Saban, last Saturday wasn’t good enough. And not just because of what Alabama did or didn’t do against Oklahoma but because of whom it plays next.
By now, Alabama knows what it’s up against next Monday night in Santa Clara, Calif. While the Crimson Tide is still the gold standard of college football and favorite to win the championship game, no opponent in the Saban era has proved more worthy of Alabama’s attention and respect than Clemson, which it will face for the fourth consecutive year in the playoff.
“It’s a dynasty they have over there,” Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams said. “It’s a great team with great coaches, and that’ s a pretty solid recipe for success in college football.”
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