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Nick Saban explains the most precious fuel of all: failures

If you, reader, have given up a questionable pick-like route and finished one second shy of spending an entire season at No. 1 in your own life, now’s the time to capitalize.

CFP National Championship Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Wisdom from Nick Saban at SEC Media Days, when he was asked about how one self-assesses after blowing a lead in a National Championship:

Well, we really try to do it the same way because whether you win or lose, we're always trying to self-assess to see what we need to do to get better. I think when you lose, everybody's much more -- the mindset is much more I'm willing to change. I want to learn. I don't want to waste a failure. What could we have done better? Because everybody's hurt by the fact that they lost, especially the way we lost that particular game on the last play of the game, but it wasn't the last play. It's what led up to the last play. And I think our players realize that.

It takes a tremendous amount of accountability to be able to execute and sustain the execution for 60 minutes in the game. And we played against a really, really good team, which I think when you get in the playoffs, that should be what you expect. And we weren't able to finish the game like we needed to. And I think there's a lot of lessons to learn, and hopefully we won't waste a failure.

He didn't invent that phrase — it appears it popped up around 2013 among people who write books about hacking your leadership skills — but it was the first time most of his audience had heard it, and with the authority of five title rings.

It's a good word, as the folks in the front pews say. I wouldn't have pondered it at all if it hadn't come from Saban, partly because there's no doubt he knows an Alabama failure is the most potent, precious form of clean-burning energy yet discovered. I know he believes what he's saying here.

After the 2012 season, Alabama's weight room was done up with Texas A&M logos, to remind everyone of that loss to Johnny Manziel's Aggies. The thing is: Bama was the reigning national champ at the time. Not only must you never waste a failure, you must always be willing to scour for one. (So what failure would be fueling the Tide right now if Deshaun Watson hadn't finished that drive?)

(And not to keep picking on Butch Jones, but contrast this. Tennessee's head coach is still defending a decent, 9-4 season as a non-disappointment, while Saban stamps the word FAILURE on finishing one second shy of a wire-to-wire championship.)

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