During his Sugar Bowl welcome news conference at the Hilton Riverside on Friday, Saban was asked if he felt the more motivated team usually wins bowl games.
“I think that’s probably true,” said Saban, whose team will face Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl on Thursday. “The teams that are the most motivated play the best in bowl games. I would 100 percent agree with that. … Sometimes when a team is looking forward to something a little different than where they end up, it could affect their approach, but I also think players have to have a maturity and a respect for the opponent that they have and realize the importance in the game and get prepared to play their best in it.”
The team arrived in New Orleans on Friday in anticipation of Thursday's game. Saban, linebacker C.J. Mosley, quarterback AJ McCarron and receiver Kevin Norwood spoke at Friday's news conference.
For Saban, the game is about sending the Crimson Tide senior class out on a high note. In the last four years, the current senior class has won 46 games, two national titles and an SEC championship. A handful were redshirted in 2009 when Alabama also won a national championship.
“I think as a team we need to come together for them and their opportunity that they have to finish their career the right way,” Saban said.
Norwood said the team’s approach during practice leading up to heading to New Orleans was business as usual.
“We approached it like any other game,” Norwood said. “We practiced hard, and we’re going to go out and perform to the best of our ability. We know that we still have a big chip on our shoulders. We still have something to prove so we’re going to go out and focus and play hard.”
Added Mosley: “For the most part, everyone had the right mindset leading up to this game. We had great practices and got our bodies back in the right shape to play football. I feel that if we practice well the next few days, we’ll have a good chance to win the game.”
For McCarron, his competitive nature won’t accept anything other than a win.
“It’s a chance to win 12 games,” McCarron said. “Not a lot of teams in Alabama history have done that. Not a lot of teams in the country can say they won 12 games. We slipped up one time, but that’s football. We have to let it go. The next game, I don’t want to come out and not win it. I don’t care what I’m playing.”
Saban also views bowl games as a way to springboard a team and individual players into future success.
“I also think the way you play in a bowl game has something to say about the future of your program,” Saban said. “Each player has the opportunity to demonstrate individually and collectively as a team, what they’re going to be in the future and what we’re going to be in the future.”