Yankees

Nick Saban Turns To Mariano Rivera To Stress Idea Of ‘Focus’ To His Players

Nick Saban (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) and Mariano Rivera (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Nick Saban (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) and Mariano Rivera (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Alabama head coach Nick Saban has won four SEC championships, six SEC Western Division titles and three national championships. He’s also been named the SEC Coach of the Year three times and the AP National Coach of the Year twice.

A man with that kind of pedigree certainly doesn’t need to turn to other athletes to motivate his players, right?

Wrong.

The Crimson Tide is taking on the Fighting Irish in the BCS National Championship Game on Monday night, and Saban has been thinking out of the box to prepare his players for the big game.

On Sunday, he took a page out of legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera’s book.

“We just watched video of Mariano Rivera, and he talked about how he struggled at some time in his career because he was trying to be a perfectionist,” Saban said. “And that when he’s in the bullpen, he sees the crowd. He hears the crowd, he knows sometimes that he’s been getting a lot of positive self gratification for what he does, and sometimes getting a lot of negative self gratification for what he does.

“But when he runs out and they hand him the ball, he’s got one focus. He’s not worried about the crowd, he’s not worried about any of the external factors. One focus: Three outs. How am I going to get three outs?”

Alabama went 12-1 in the regular season, with their only loss coming against Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. Notre Dame ran the table, going 12-0. The Irish are ranked No. 1 in the BCS, AP and USA Today Polls, with Alabama ranked second.

However, Alabama is favored by 9.5 points in the game, which is the biggest spread for a national championship game since 2003.

Saban wants to make sure that his troops don’t take the opponent lightly.

“I think a team’s ability to do that, to stay focused on the things that are going to affect the outcome of the game, are critical in games like this,” Saban said. “And you know, you could say, ‘Well that’s nothing.’ Well, believe me — being around young people, being in games like this, that’s something. And it’s something big.”

Alabama defeated LSU in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.

Gotta go to Mo, right? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…