Saban shares what breaks his heart, pep talk from Bo Scarbrough

Saban shares what breaks his heart, pep talk from Bo Scarbrough

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – For the first time in more than a decade, Alabama has two losses before Thanksgiving. At most places, that isn’t a big deal. It could even be celebrated. But within Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide program, which has unmatched expectations because of the success of this 16-year run, that falls short of meeting the standard established by former players.

This year’s team, picked by many to win the national championship back in the preseason, was affected more by external factors than any of Saban’s previous 15 teams, he said. But Alabama is working to recapture the culture after two disappointing losses, and it took a step in the right direction by bouncing back from a Week 10 loss at LSU to defeat Ole Miss on the road.

That is music to several former Crimson Tide players’ ears, as some of them have voiced their frustrations and even concerns about the future of the program on podcasts and social media. But seeing that kind of response from Greg McElroy and others didn’t sit well with Saban.

“When former players come back to me, it hurts my heart – and I told the players this, so I’m not speaking out of school – that anybody that’s ever played here in this culture and on this team would think that anybody on this team is not playing to that culture and to that standard,” said Saban on his weekly radio show.

“That really breaks my heart because I’m responsible for that, and I want all the players to feel the responsibility that goes with that in terms of who we are at Alabama, how we play, what we do and how we do things. We’re working on it.”

With two regular-season games and a to-be-determined bowl matchup remaining, Saban said the focus is on that culture “of what this team has always been, how we’ve always played for years here, the kind of toughness we play with, the kind of discipline that we play with.”

A former player was actually at the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility to get that message across Thursday as Alabama (8-2, 5-2 SEC) continues its prep for Saturday’s game with Austin Peay.

“Bo Scarbrough was here today,” Saban said, “and he put his finger on the table and said, ‘When we played here, we were making sure that the other team, when the game was over, would say we never wanna play them again.’ These guys remember everything that you ever taught them, and that’s the kind of culture that we want to try to recreate. And I think that’s something that got started a little bit last week, but it’s something we’ve tried to build all year long.

“We started the season that way. We kind of lost it. Hopefully, we can regain it and start rebuilding that for the future and the way we play. And I don’t care who we’re playing against. If anybody can tell who we’re playing this week by how you practice this week, there’s something wrong with you. That’s not what it’s all about. It’s how well do you play, how well do we recapture the culture of what this program has always been about and the expectation of what it’s been about.

“And I don’t want any former player coming to me saying you guys are not what they expect you to be because they established the culture, whether it was Julio Jones and Mark Ingram and that whole group and all these guys. They have lots of pride in that, and we want our team to be the same way.”

Did you know that BOL has a podcast? The BamaOnLine Podcast brings you the latest Alabama news and insight from Travis Reier, Charlie Potter, Hank South and Tim Watts. Catch the latest episode right here gold subscribe on iTunes today!

Contact Charlie Potter by personal message or on Twitter (@Charlie_Potter).

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