Nate Oats on text from Nick Saban, using ‘Rat Poison’ to motivate Alabama before Elite Eight


Alabama basketball will play in its second-ever Elite Eight when the NCAA Tournament continues on Saturday. It’s a chance for Nate Oats’ team to make its first Final Four.

As the day approaches, Oats received a text message from a man not known for his use of the medium.

“He doesn’t do much texting,” Oats said Friday of retired Alabama football head coach Nick Saban. “I probably shouldn’t even say he texts because I think he’s not supposed to text. But now that he’s not coaching anymore, maybe he texts. If I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody he texts, I apologize to Coach Saban. He did send me a short text.”

Alabama had to pull of an upset of top-seeded North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen to make the Elite Eight. It’s a quick turnaround from the emotional Thursday victory to Saturday’s matchup with Clemson.

Oats said he was encouraging his Tide to focus on what’s ahead, an attitude he said he took from a conversation with Saban. He also is borrowing a famous line from Saban in an effort to keep players grounded.

“Coach Saban calls it rat poison all the time,” Oats said “If you wanted, you can get on your phone and look at social media and type your name in and see hundreds of people talking about how great you were. But it has nothing to do with preparing to play the next game. I told them, if you want to get to a Final Four you’ve got to be disciplined enough to put that rat poison out, get locked in on what we need to do for the next 24 hours, be prepared to beat this team. Because anything else is a total distraction.”

Alabama and Clemson are scheduled to face off at 7:49 p.m. Saturday in Los Angeles with a Final Four spot on the line. The game will be aired on TBS and TruTV.

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