TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Nick Saban and his Alabama players are already looking to the future. The present is far more painful to ponder.
All the Crimson Tide could do after the final and most painful defeat of a disheartening season was wait and hope a bowl bid will be forthcoming. It's anything but a sure thing following Saturday night's 17-10 loss at No. 23 Auburn that completed a four-game swoon to end the regular season.
The Tide's best hope now might be the Liberty Bowl in Memphis or the Independence Bowl in Shreveport.
Alabama (4-4 SEC) and South Carolina (3-5) are both bowl-eligible at 6-6 while eight other SEC teams have better records.
Even if the SEC matched last season's nine bowl bids, either Alabama or South Carolina would likely be left out. The league has never sent 10 teams to the postseason.
Some Tide players are far more optimistic about the distant future and the prospects for Saban's rebuilding job than about the chances of landing a bowl invitation after their sixth consecutive Iron Bowl loss.
Senior defensive end Wallace Gilberry says the way it's looking right now, "I don't think we will."
Saban wasn't wildly optimistic either. He is holding out hope, saying: "I don't know anything about the bowl situation. I would love for our players to have the opportunity to go to a bowl game."
He added: "Most of the circumstances that occurred this weekend probably would not be beneficial to our situation."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)