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For a guy who doesn't lose much, Nick Saban does it really well.

Seriously, it's textbook.

If you want to study the best way to handle a loss, watch Saban. Maybe it's easier for him because sometimes it seems like Alabama loses less often than the Braves win pennants.

No matter, he seems to find a way to turn losses from you-know-what into shinola.

Of his six national championship teams at Alabama, four lost a game, and in each instance, you could say those losses might've helped focus his teams.

Since 2008, his teams are 16-2 after losing a game, including Saturday's 49-9 win over Mississippi State. That was by far Alabama's best performance of the season, and it came after the 41-38 upset at Texas A&M when the Tide looked muddled and unprepared at times.

The two losses were meaningless Sugar Bowl games that came after losing to Florida in 2008 and Auburn in 2013.

It goes back to how he handles each defeat.

He usually doesn't freak out. He doesn't really pound the table. When Alabama commits too many penalties in a 34-point win over Mercer, he slaps the podium and refers to a "reckoning."

But after a loss? There are no theatrics.

He doesn't handle all of his losses the same. That's why it's interesting to go back and watch some of his news conferences after in-season losses.

Most of what he says in those news conferences is directed at the players. The reporters ask the questions, but the players are the real audience. (Except when he gets angry, and then that's usually aimed at the Crimson Tide's fans.)

Perhaps he believes there's so much pressure and attention on the average Alabama football player that he doesn't need to beat them up in his news conferences, because they're already doing it themselves.

After losing to LSU in 2019, he kept repeating how proud he was of how they played, their effort, etc. He apparently felt his players needed to hear that, so that's the talking point he emphasized.

After losing to Texas A&M two weeks ago, he kept repeating "learn" and "learning" and "lesson."

"We have to remember how it feels to lose," Saban said that night after the defeat. "What did you contribute to losing? What things do I need to do better?"

Didn't Alabama look like it had learned something in this past Saturday's followup against Mississippi State?

One common theme after losses is that if Alabama still has all of its goals intact, he'll say so.

In 2012, when Alabama lost at home to Texas A&M, it had happened late enough in the season that it appeared the Tide's title chances were done. At the time, the playoff included only two teams — the BCS Championship Game.

But Saban calmly said that he had had teams lose a game and still win a national championship.

After losing to Texas A&M this season, he repeated that, but that was just part of the message. Learn, learning and lesson were the words of the day.

Would the 2016 or 2018 teams have won national titles if they hadn't gone into the playoff championship game undefeated? Did they need a loss to achieve the necessary focus to beat Clemson those years?

That's a tricky line of thinking. Of Saban's four one-loss champions, I think only the 2011 team needed to lose, and that's mostly because it came against LSU. So, when Alabama played LSU again for the national title, the Tide approached that one like it really had something to prove.

The 2012, 2015 and 2017 teams likely would've won championships even without the motivating losses.

The point is that a loss by an unbeaten team has the potential to make everything come unglued, sending the season hurtling downhill. Saban has been pretty good at avoiding that.

His only team that struggled to regain footing was the 2010 team that started 5-0 but finished 10-3. That group was probably better than the 2009 and 2011 championship teams, but it lost something late that even Saban couldn't fix.

As for this team, we'll see if this group truly has listened to "learn, learning, lesson," but so far, it looks like they have.

Senior Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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