— FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — It didn't take long for Alabama coach Nick Saban to turn his thoughts to next season.
Maybe he let the Gatorade dry from the celebratory drenching first. Maybe.
"The team next year is 0-0," Saban said Tuesday morning. "Even though I really appreciate what this team accomplished and am very, very proud of what they accomplished, we need to prepare for the challenges of the new season very quickly with the team we have coming back. "
Apparently, the coach's 24-hour celebration rule applies mostly to players. He didn't take nearly that long to refocus after a 42-14 demolition of Notre Dame that secured a second straight BCS title and the Crimson Tide's third in four seasons. Shortly after the game, he was already talking about getting back to the office by Wednesday morning.
The 2013 team will almost certainly be regarded among the preseason favorites for a three-peat, even though three Tide stars — tailback Eddie Lacy, cornerback Dee Milliner and right tackle D.J. Fluker — could decide to skip this senior seasons and turn pro.
Saban also emphatically tried to end speculation that he might return to the NFL, where he spent two years with the Miami Dolphins before returning to the Southeastern Conference.
It was a question that really made him bristle in the 30-plus minute news conference.
"How many times do you think I've been asked to put it to rest?" Saban said. "And I've put it to rest, and you continue to ask it. So I'm going to say it today, that — you know, I think somewhere along the line you've got to choose. You learn a lot from the experiences of what you've done in the past. I came to the Miami Dolphins, what, eight years ago for the best owner, the best person that I've ever had the opportunity to work for. And in the two years that I was here, had a very, very difficult time thinking that I could impact the organization in the way that I wanted to or the way that I was able to in college, and it was very difficult for me."