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Chick Fil A Peach Bowl officially extends invitation to No. 1 Crimson Tide team (via Crimson Magazine)

12 Dec 2016 Stan J. Griffin

By Stan J. Griffin: December 12, 2016

Photo by Stan J. Griffin

Although it has been over a week since it was officially announced that Nick Saban's No. 1 and 13-0 University of Alabama football team would be appearing in the Chick Fil A Peach Bowl to battle No. 4 Washington in a College Football Playoff semifinal contest, officials from the Peach Bowl and UA made that playoff pairing a formal agreement deal Monday.
During a press conference held in UA's Naylor Stone Media Room, Peach Bowl and Chick Fil A representatives were on hand to officially extend an invitation to the Crimson Tide for the Dec. 31 contest against Chris Petersen's Huskies.  The game is set for a 2 p.m. CT kickoff and will be televised by ESPN. The winner of that game will meet the winner of the other semifinal game between No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State on Jan. 9 in the national championship game in Tampa.
UA Director of Athletics Bill Battle and Saban were in attendance at Monday's press conference to represent the Crimson Tide.
Saban said he looks forward to bringing his team back to Atlanta for its playoff clash against the 12-1 Huskies, the champions of the Pac 12.
"It's certainly an honor and a privilege for our team here at the University of Alabama to have the opportunity to be in the College Football Playoff, especially in a first-class venue going back to Atlanta to be a part of the Peach Bowl," he said. "Atlanta's a great host city, and we've certainly enjoyed the opportunity to go four times to the Kickoff Classic. (Chick Fil A President and CEO) Gary (Stokan) and his staff and the Peach Bowl folks do a marvelous job in terms of hosting, and we've had a great experience there in the past, and we're looking forward to having a wonderful experience in the future. Even though this is our first time playing the Chick Fil A Peach Bowl, we certainly feel very confident with the folks that are our host because we've had the experience of being in four of their Kickoff Classics, and that's been very helpful in exposing this program and helping to build this program to what it's become.

"I have to mention that I'm very, very proud of our team for what they've been able to accomplish, the opportunity they've created for themselves, and that team includes the coaches and the players and our athletic administration, Coach Battle and all he does to help us have a chance to be successful. Our administration here at the University of Alabama. Our president, Dr. (Stuart) Bell, has created a great opportunity for our student-athletes to be successful here personally, academically and athletically. We're obviously playing one of the outstanding programs and outstanding teams in the country. This year Coach Petersen is obviously to me one of the best coaches in the country and he's done a marvelous job at the University of Washington, and their team has done an outstanding job this year of creating some big numbers on offense and being very tough to score against on defense. So this is a very well-coached, all-around really good team that's going to be very, very challenging for our team and it should be a great game."
Stokan said it is an honor to bring the Crimson Tide back to the Georgia Dome, a venue that has become quite a familiar and comfortable second home for UA since Saban's arrival in Tuscaloosa as coach.
"This is the most significant college football game that will ever be played in the city of Atlanta," he said. "We started in the bowl business in 1968, and we have number one Alabama against number four Washington in the College Football Playoff semifinal game at the Chick Fil A Peach Bowl. The volunteers and staff that we have are the best in the business, and we look forward to hosting you and all the Crimson Tide family, team and administration in the 49th Chick Fil A Peach Bowl. It's kind of ironic, we've never had Alabama in those 49 years play in our Chick Fil A Peach Bowl.
"To get Alabama ranked number one and get them in the semifinal game is quite an honor and privilege for us and we look forward to it. We think we have the best matchup of the bowl season, and they say styles make fights, this is going to be a heck of a fight, when you have the number one defense in the country going against the number four offense in the country, and Washington being number one in turnover margin and number 10 in defense. We've got 16 All-SEC and Pac 12 first-team players and five national award winners that will be playing in this game. We've also got two of the preeminent coaches in college football, and both Chris Petersen and Nick Saban have won the (Bobby) Dodd Trophy, which is the preeminent college coach of the year award. It's based on scholarship, leadership and integrity and both these guys do it right, and not only on the field but off the field. This is very, very special for us, until next year when we'll host the national championship game (in the new Mercedes Benz Stadium) in Atlanta as well. So for us to host Alabama in our Kickoff Game, to host them in our semifinal game, to host them in the SEC Championship Game, we're going to start charging (Saban and Battle) some income tax coming over to Atlanta so much."
Stokan also noted that the Peach Bowl continues to be college football's most charitable bowl contest, as the bowl has given $19.8 million in charity and scholarship since 2002.
With the news that broke Monday that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will be leaving the Tide program after three seasons to take the head coaching position at Florida Atlantic University, Saban briefly commented on Kiffin's impending departure.
"Lane's done a phenomenal job for us the last three years and we appreciate the impact that he's made on this program," he said. "We think that this is a wonderful opportunity for him to be a head coach again and I think FAU has selected someone that is going to do a great job for them and he's done a great job here, molding our offensive players to what they could do to have the best chance to be successful. I think that's something that's always telling about the quality of a coach. Lane will stay here and serve as offensive coordinator through our playoffs, so we're pleased for him but anything else that is said about this, I think, Florida Atlantic University ought to have the opportunity to do that. They've made a great hire and I think that should be up to them."
Saban added that there is no current timetable for finding a replacement for Kiffin.

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