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Saban: 2021 was 'rebuilding year' despite playing for national title

Marvin Gentry / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Alabama head coach Nick Saban described the team's 2021 season as "a rebuilding year" despite his program reaching the College Football Playoff National Championship game.

"Last year, we had kind of a rebuilding year," Saban said on the "McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning" show on Wednesday.

The Crimson Tide had to replace a quartet of stars on offense when Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Najee Harris entered the 2021 NFL Draft.

Alabama finished with a 13-2 record last season and went on to win the SEC championship game against Georgia before dropping the national title game to its conference foe. Alabama is expected to return a championship-caliber roster that should rank high in the preseason polls.

"We should have nine starters back on offense, nine on defense, but six guys go out early for the draft, and now we have five back on offense and seven back on defense," Saban said.

"That, in and of itself creates a few more question marks, but it also creates opportunity for other players to be able to shine in the program and contribute in a positive way. So nobody knows for sure how all this stuff is sort of going to come to fruition, but that's part of the excitement and challenge that we have to try to develop a team."

Saban also noted the program's continuity entering a new season. Reigning Heisman Trophy quarterback Bryce Young and defensive standout Will Anderson Jr. are among the roster's holdovers.

Alabama has qualified for the playoff in seven of the eight years that the CFP has existed and won three national championships during that span. Early preseason media polls predict the Crimson Tide to win the SEC championship on Dec. 3 in Atlanta.

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