Alabama displays a ‘participation trophy’ from the 2022 national championship loss in the team cafeteria.

Alabama displays a ‘participation trophy’ from the 2022 national championship loss in the team cafeteria.


Nick Saban
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Levels b Alabama Crimson Tide Football program. For most teams, reaching the national championship is considered a major accomplishment — but not so in Tuscaloosa.

Last season, Alabama made it to the national title game before falling to SEC rival Georgia. Despite the loss, Alabama did not leave empty-handed. The Crimson Tide earned a trophy for their efforts in the college football playoffs, but offensive lineman Emil Ekior Jr. said it only serves as a reminder of what the team hasn’t accomplished.

In a recent press release, Ekior said the trophy will be displayed in the team cafeteria. As far as he is concerned, that hardware is nothing more than a “participation trophy.”

“It’s hard to turn the page, you know?” Ekior said. “Obviously, it was a tough loss. We worked all year to achieve that goal. But we still haven’t turned the page because it’s always in the back of our minds. I mean, we got a participation trophy in our cafeteria. It’s a participation trophy just sitting in the cafeteria. You worked, but you didn’t do anything. You didn’t win. I’m not saying we flipped. There’s always something external that motivates us, but that’s all I’m saying.”

The team fared better than the trophy it lost in the national championship game a few years ago. At the end of the 2016 season, a year after Alabama’s national title loss to Clemson, then-strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran broke down in front of the players.

The annual hope at Alabama is a championship, and even when the program wins the SEC and goes to the title game, Saban said 2021 was a “rebuilding year.” for the program. If that’s a rebuilding year, it’s bad news for the rest of college football.

Heading into 2022, Alabama is once again the national championship favorite, but that doesn’t mean the list is without question. Barrett Sally of CBS Sports recently The Crimson Tide broke down a few spots they still need to shore up in order to get the job done this fall..



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