Nick Saban addresses starting QB situation for Alabama in 2018


So, Nick Saban, you’ve just won your sixth national championship with a thrilling 26-23 overtime win over Georgia.

Now, tell us who’s your starting quarterback next season?

That’s certainly not the question the coach thought he’d be answering the day after Alabama knocked off the Bulldogs, but he really doesn’t have much choice.

Jalen Hurts has been the unquestioned leader of the Crimson Tide for his two years in Tuscaloosa, but Monday night it was freshman Tua Tagovailoa who saved the day in the championship game.

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“Look, we have two good quarterbacks on our team, no doubt,” Saban told reporters Tuesday morning. “Both of them made a great contribution to the success of the team this year. I think that we haven’t really made a decision about that. I don’t think it’s imperative that we make one right now.

“We’ve got two fine young men who really respect each other and have worked hard to help each other all year long, and hopefully will be able to continue to do that in the future.”

It had to be a blow for the sophomore Hurts to be benched, especially after he lost last year’s title game to Clemson.

But down 13-0, Saban felt like he had no choice, and commended his starter for helping his backup.

“Sure … any competitor would not accept that willingly, but as a team player, he was very supportive of Tua in the second half,” the coach said. “I think he helped him in every way. I think Tua’s done that for him all year long.”

Tagovailoa got the Tide rolling in the right direction, completing 14-of-24 passes for three touchdowns, and rushing for another 27 yards.

The champagne (or juice) wasn’t even dry from the celebration when the legendary coach was bombarded about next season. As you might expect, Saban didn’t take the bait.

“I don’t think it’s imperative that we make [a decision] right now,” he said. “We’ve got two fine young men who really respect each other and have worked hard to help each other all year long. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue to do that in the future.”

Hurts has started 28 consecutive games for Alabama, and his elusiveness has been critical to the Tide’s success.

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With a 26-2 record under center, his contributions to this championship shouldn’t be forgotten.

And they won’t be, according to his coach. “One of the first things that I said to Jalen was, ‘We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. You put us in a position by the plays that you made and the way you played all year long, but it just seems to me like, if we’re going to have the best chance to win this game, that we may need to do it in a different way.’ I think he understood that.”

The stakes weren’t exactly the same, but Saban does have experience pulling his starter in a huge game.

While at LSU, he did the same thing in 2000.

“This happened once before at LSU, I think in our first year,” he said. “Josh Booty was our quarterback. We got behind Georgia Tech like 14-0 or something, here in Atlanta playing in the Peach Bowl. I just went in at halftime and said, ‘Rohan Davey you need to go play, because we need a spark on offense and we need something to change.’ We ended up winning the game 28-14.”

There’s obviously a whole world of difference between the Peach Bowl and the national championship game, but Saban knew when to pull the trigger then, just like he did Monday night, and Crimson Tide fans are glad he did.

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Mike is an 11-time Michigan Emmy Award winner who has spent nearly 30 years working in sports media.
Mike has spent nearly 30 years in all aspects of sports media, including on-air, 10 at ESPN and another 10 at Fox Sports Detroit. He now works as a TV agent, and lives with his family in West Bloomfield, MI.
Sudbury, Massachusetts
11-time Michigan Emmy winner
Emerson College
Books Written
The Longest Year: One Family's Journey Of Life, Death, And Love/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Tigers/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Lions
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