Saban: Bowls have some of the most horrendous tackling you've ever seen

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday January 04, 2017

Nick Saban says Alabama is practicing less for Clemson than it did a year ago, and the layoff is shorter, but finding the balance of not beating players up and still keeping them ready is always tough.

CBS Sports spoke to players from all four playoff teams on if the playoff should expand, and several Alabama players noted how playing 15 games wears you down. Saban knows, and he’s tried to adjust.

“We’ve tried to cut it down,” Saban said. “Last year, we cut it down a lot for the Michigan State game, we had a lot of time off. This year, we have a little less time. We’re actually practicing a little less for this game than we did a year ago. We try to cut back, go in spider pads sometimes. We’re going to practice in pads two days for this game and that’s it.

“We don’t want to beat the players up, but being physical tackling well, things like that for college players, even though it’s late in the season."

Saban also pointed to poor play in bowl games.

If you watch bowl games, you probably see some of the most horrendous, horrific tackling you’ve ever seen in your life. That’s what I’ve seen when I watch the games,” he said. “We missed quite a few in the (Washington) game as well. Not too many. Guys hustled onto the ball. When we did miss, there was always another guy there. Those are the type of things players have to force themselves to practice. We don’t want to beat them up, but we don’t want to put them out there on the field where they’re not ready to play.”

Last year, there were 11 days between the semi-final and the final. This year, there are only nine. After winning the 2014 national title, Urban Meyer said the playoff had to stay at four or else teams would need more scholarships to have enough healthy bodies.

Alabama offensive lineman Korren Kirven told CBS the playoff should stay at four because of that grind.

My body (at last year's championship game) felt pretty broke down,” Kirven said. “You're sore. You're kind of ready to shut it down a little because the season is physically training on you. We go from Fourth Quarter (winter conditioning) to spring ball, get a little break and go straight into the summer and fall with maybe a bye week or two bye weeks that's three days. We don't get to rest our body so we have to cherish the time we get so we can recover."

Aside from game-planning, how hard to physically push the players is a major focus for Clemson and Alabama this week.

The Tigers and Tide kick off from Tampa at 8 p.m. ET on Monday.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to