TUSCALOOSA – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – While everyone in the college football world was glued to a television, Alabama coach Nick Saban was out doing one of his favorite things: recruiting. It was announced Sunday that Alabama earned the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide will face No. 1 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semifinal on Jan. 1.
During his appearance on ESPN, Saban revealed how he learned of Alabama’s playoff fate.
“I hate to admit that we had recruits in for official visits this weekend,” Saban said. “I was actually bringing one of those recruits to my office so I was in the car and kind of missed it. So, when I got here, everybody was waiting for me, and it was really exciting. We’re very pleased and proud and happy. I’m sorry I missed you guys, but we found out another way.”
Alabama, which had one loss and didn’t win its conference championship, earned the nod over two-loss, Big Ten champion Ohio State. While Ohio State had better wins, the selection committee wasn’t able to get past the Buckeyes’ 31-point loss to Iowa this season.
Alabama and Clemson have met the last two years in the title game with both contests being decided by less than five points.
Alabama won a 45-40 thriller in 2015. Last season, Clemson defeated the Crimson Tide 35-31 on a last-second touchdown. While it won’t be for the title, this is the rubber match many college football fans wanted.
“I certainly believed and trusted in the integrity of the committee that they would do their very best to put the best teams in,” Saban said. “A lot of good teams. I’d like to congratulate the other teams that got in, and some of the other teams that got strong consideration. But I really do believe based on the total body of work, our team really deserved the opportunity to be in. We’re very pleased and happy that they did.”
The winner of the matchup between Alabama and Clemson will meet the winner of the contest matching the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners and the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs, who will play in the CFP Semifinal Game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1. The 2018 CFP National Championship Game is scheduled for Monday, January 8, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
From an injury standpoint, Alabama should be healthy by game time. Saban said the Crimson Tide’s linebackers — Mack Wilson, Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis — who have been banged up will be back for the game.
Alabama will be without starting safety Hootie Jones, whom Saban said suffered a knee injury against Auburn.
“I’m really happy and excited for my team,” Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. “I think we deserved it.