Alabama displays ‘Participation Trophy’ for 2022 National Championship loss in team cafeteria

Nick Saban
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The standards of the Alabama Crimson Tide football program are high. For most teams, simply winning a national championship is considered a huge success — but that’s certainly not the case in Tuscaloosa.

Last season, Alabama made it all the way to the national championship game before losing to SEC rival Georgia. Despite the loss, Alabama didn’t come home empty-handed. The Crimson Tide won the trophy for its efforts in the college football playoffs, but offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor Jr. said it’s just a reminder of what the team failed to accomplish.

at a recent press conference, Ekiyor said the trophy was displayed in the team cafeteria. In his view, that piece of hardware is nothing more than a “participation trophy.”

“It’s a little hard to turn the pages, you know?” Ekijor said. “Obviously, it was a tough loss. We’ve been working on it for a whole year to get there. In a way, we still haven’t turned the page because it’s always on our minds. I mean, in our cafeteria, we got an engagement trophy from the cafeteria to sit there. It was an engagement trophy. You made it, but you didn’t do anything. You didn’t win. I wouldn’t say we totally flipped Page. There’s always something outside that motivates us, but that’s what I’m going to say.”

The team is kinder to this trophy than it was a few years ago when it lost in the national championship game. A year after Alabama lost the national title to Clemson at the end of the 2016 season, then-strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran tore it down in front of players.

The annual expectation in Alabama is a championship, even in a season where his program won the SEC and entered the championship game, Saban says 2021 is ‘the year of rebuilding’ for the program. If that’s a rebuilding year, that’s bad news for the rest of college football.

Going into 2022, Alabama is once again the national championship favorite, but that doesn’t mean the roster isn’t without problems. Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports recently Breaks down several areas where the Crimson Tide still needs support to get the job done this fall.

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