Nick Saban wants Alabama football players to be equally motivated whether it is coming off a national championship win or loss, but the veteran coach knows one is easier than the other.

“I do acknowledge the fact that when you lose and bad things happen, from a human nature standpoint, people seem to respond a little bit better,” Saban said Thursday. “Is that what we want? No. But I think thats probably something that is pretty normal for most of us human beings.”

So, the Crimson Tide is taking advantage of that human nature through a daily reminder in the cafeteria.


After the 33-18 loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff championship in January, Alabama is keeping  the runner-up trophy it received in the cafeteria.

The Crimson Tide calls it the participation trophy. There’s a sign underneath it that labels it as such, offensive linemen Emil Ekiyor Jr. said Friday.

The sign also says, “Are you happy with it?”

“Just a little motivation to see that everyday and it reminds you, OK, this is what we’re really working for to change the outcome of the season,” Ekiyor said. “Focused on being the best we can be this year to ultimately have a different outcome.”

Alabama QB Bryce Young leaves the field with former Crimson Tide offensive lineman Chris Owens following the title game loss to Georgia in January.

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Ekiyor said it’s difficult to turn the page from that loss and that it’s always in the back of the players’ minds.

The participation trophy helps keep it there.

“You made it but you didnt do anything,” Ekiyor said the trophy reminds them. “You didnt win. I wouldnt say we fully turned the page but theres always going to be something that externally motivates us.”

Alabama began preseason practices Thursday and will continue through the Sept. 3 game against Utah State at Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men’s basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Alabama gets motivation from College Football Playoff runner-up trophy