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Nick Saban: "I don't think you have to get a trophy to be a winner."

NCAA FOOTBALL 2011- January 1- Capital One Bowl- Alabama vs Michigan State

Alabama lost last night, its second straight season to end in disappointment in the Sugar Bowl, and the second straight season without a national championship.

For those expecting Saban to become Coach Fire and Brimstone after a loss, the seventh-year Alabama head coach was the exact opposite of that.

"I don't think you necessarily have to get a trophy to be a winner," he said following the game. " And I do think that there's a lot of guys on this team, two of them sitting right up here with me right now (quarterback Blake Sims and safety Landon Collins), and many, many more in that locker room, that have been winners all year and did a fantastic job for our team."

Saban clearly liked this team, and said as much after the game. "I'm very proud of this team. This team excelled all year long," he said. "They kept Alabama in the forefront of college football everywhere in the country, based on the hard work and the improvement that they made throughout the season.

"So I'm very proud of what this team was able to accomplish and winning the SEC as well as winning 12 football games in a very tough conference."

The 2014 Alabama team was an embodiment of Saban's fabled Process. They put their heads down, went to work, improved throughout the season, and let their preparation dictate the results. Which, by the way, placed them as no worse than the fourth-best team in the country.

"I said to the players about exceeding expectations this year and doing a great job keeping Alabama in the forefront and I was very proud of what they were able to accomplish," Saban said, "and I was also apologetic to them as a coach and a coaching staff that didn't do a better job of helping them be able to play their best in this game."