"We're going to try to finish this season as strong as possible."
Left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio said Saban brought up the 2008 season when the Tide fell to Florida in the SEC championship game and to Utah in the Sugar Bowl.
"He was like we shouldn't let this loss bring us down to the point where we just keep hang-dogging and keep our heads down going into the game and lose that game, too," Kouandjio said.
On the field, Saban said guard Anthony Steen will miss the bowl game after having shoulder surgery.
Off the field, the coach had more to celebrate than even his new contract. His son, Nicholas, and daughter-in-law had a baby on Sunday.
The sometimes gruff Saban lit up talking about the experience that got him to the hospital in the wee hours.
"To have a healthy baby and a healthy mother and someone that beautiful come into your family is really something that you have to count your blessings on," he said.
"They actually had a rocking chair over there so I was kind of happy rocking that baby a little bit. Since then, I haven't been able to go back.
"I kind of miss the little bugger if you want to know the truth about it."
TIDE BITS: Former Southern California and Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, a onetime rival, has been visiting with Tide coaches this week in Tuscaloosa. It's a common practice for Alabama — even Oklahoma's staff has come to town — and Saban said he's not sure why that would cause any stir.
"Lane is a really good offensive coach, and I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for him," Saban said. "Just to come in and brainstorm a little bit just some professional ideas with our guys, I think, is a real positive thing. And I don't know why there's any reaction to it. I'm really quite surprised."