Nick Saban describes the mindset his team needs for the Playoff

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday December 26, 2016

The Peach Bowl playoff game between Alabama and Washington will be two completely different levels of experience. Does it make a difference?

Nick Saban has made it clear he didn’t like his team’s mindset against Ohio State in the playoff two years ago. Then they got it right and won the national title last year, beating Michigan State and Clemson. Is it experience? The Tide have about 10 returning starters off last year's team. Could it become complacency? That’s Saban’s job to get right.

Just because a player’s been there before doesn’t mean he’s going to be complacent about being there again, and just because a player hasn’t been there doesn’t mean he’s going to be focused in the right way,” Saban said Monday. “What we don’t want to try to create with the player is thinking you have to be something that you’re not. You got here because of who you are and the way you compete.

“Don’t create a bunch of anxiety that you need to be better than you’ve ever played, and you don’t need to be complacent or overly-relaxed about not letting the situation affect you.”

The playoff has created the dynamic of the first game situating like a bowl game, in terms of the time off, the preparation and travel. Except you have another game in about a week if you win. Asked what he’s learned most from the previous playoff trips, Saban pointed to figuring that out.

“Players have to understand we have to do the best we can to win this game to create an opportunity to play another game and re-center and focus what we do,” Saban said. “What I’ve learned about this game is your mindset, is this a bowl game or a playoff game? Every player has to decide for himself, every coach has to decide for himself, because there’s a balance for everyone in the organization. It is a playoff game.”

Washington and Alabama will meet in in Atlanta on Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. ET.

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