Noted media antagonist Saban decides to play nice

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Mark Dantonio and Nick Saban meet on the field after Thursday night's game.

Arlington, Texas -- Alabama coach Nick Saban is notorious for his lecturing of the media.

But following Thursday night's 38-0 win over Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl, Saban actually thanked the reporters.

"All right, thank you. Thank you everybody here in the media for doing such a great job of covering our team," Saban said. "Our guys get a lot of positive self-gratification from what you do.

"And even though you think I don't like you, I really do appreciate what you do and I do like you.

"So thank you."

Wow. It's a new year, indeed.

Streak stopper

The loss ended Michigan State's run of four consecutive bowl victories, and was its first loss in a bowl since losing in 2011 to Alabama.

The shutout was the third in MSU bowl history, and the first since Saban's MSU team lost to Stanford in the 1996 Sun Bowl.

The other bowl shutout of MSU was in the 1938 Orange Bowl, the Spartans' first bowl, against Auburn.

It had been 195 games since MSU was shut out in any game. That was Oct. 21, 2000, at Michigan.

Still, the Spartans feel like they had their shots Thursday, especially in the first half, when the game was still a game.

"We get two field goals, put up any points ... that changes the tide a little bit," Jack Conklin said. "It slows them down, puts doubt in their mind."

Painful shots

Being a neutral-site game didn't stop the Cotton Bowl DJ from spinning "Sweet Home Alabama" in the second half. Ouch.

... According to ESPN's Brett McMurphy, after Alabama took a 31-0 lead, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin was seen mouthing to some players: "Boring."

... Tweet of the night, from WXYT alum and current West Michigan Whitecaps broadcaster Dan Hasty: "MSU is to the national championship playoff what Brandon Inge was to the MLB Home Run Derby."

... MSU started 2015 with a win in the Cotton Bowl and ended 2015 with a loss in the Cotton Bowl.

... LJ Scott on Dantonio's message to the team: "Football is football. It's not like someone died."

... It's good to be the No. 2 seed in the playoff, we guess. Oregon won its semifinal by 39 last season, and Alabama won by 38 this season.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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