As Nick Saban walked off the field Saturday night, he had plenty to be happy about. His Alabama opened yet another season with national title plans by plastering Louisville, 51-14. Most importantly, Tua Tagovailoa looked spectacular and every part the Crimson Tide’s top QB.
Naturally, that didn’t stop the legendarily snippy coach from taking issue with yet another question about Alabama’s quarterback situation, this time asked by ESPN’s Maria Taylor.
Nick Saban not happy with ESPN reporter
“Everyone had questions about who was going to start at quarterback when this game started,” Taylor said. “What answers did you have about your quarterbacks after watching both of them play tonight?”
“I still like both guys. I think both guys are good players. I think both guys can help our team. So why do you continually try to get me to say something that doesn’t respect one of them? I’m not going to, so quit asking,” Saban said.
Nick Saban responded critically to a question about his QBs after Alabama's win. pic.twitter.com/sZCvIox2Dq
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 2, 2018
It was an awkward scene, with Taylor replying “I hear you,” then moving on to another question about Saban’s offense. Taylor also diplomatically tweeted after the game.
— Maria Taylor (@MariaTaylor7) September 2, 2018
Taylor’s ESPN colleague Chris Fowler blasted Saban’s hostility, speculating that Saban’s “unwarranted” response was the result of him misunderstanding a question that seemed designed to give him some wiggle room around naming a starter.
excellent colleague @MariaTaylor7 asked a fair QB question of Saban – which he must have misinterpreted – and he blew his stack. Unwarranted. It’s a cumulative thing, but NO intent to “disrespect” Hurts. (May be a long, uncomfortable year of press conferences in T-town!)
— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) September 2, 2018
Obviously, the quarterback that Saban didn’t want to disrespect was Jalen Hurts, the Crimson Tide’s starter for the past two seasons who was famously pulled for Tagovailoa in the national championship game last year.
Nick Saban and Jalen Hurts’ awkward situation
Demoting a player who was 27-2 as the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback is obviously a tense situation, and one that has led to plenty of transfer rumors around Hurts. Saban was coy about who would be the starter throughout the offseason, even placing an “or” between Tagovailoa and Hurts’ names on his pregame depth chart.
Flipcard for Alabama-Louisville
No changes on UA's depth chart. Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts are still separated by an "or." pic.twitter.com/JKR9xiskIa
— Charlie Potter (@Charlie_Potter) September 1, 2018
Now, to be fair to Saban, it is perfectly fair to avoid belittling his players in front of the cameras, even if Hurts wasn’t happy with how he was treated by Saban’s coaching staff over the offseason. You can think Tagovailoa is better, but still try to respect for Hurts because of his past success.
Then again, pretty much every other coach in the country “disrespects” one of their top two quarterbacks by making him the back-up. It’s also rich to hear this from a coach who spent a solid 10 seconds screaming at one of his players in the very same game on Saturday.
Maybe Saban gets the privilege of holding both up as “starters” thanks to his status, but he can’t pull the wool over the country’s eyes when he’s clearly giving more run to Tagovailoa.
Tua Tagovailoa looked pretty darn good
It’s apparently an insult to Hurts to say it, but Tagovailoa looked masterful in his first action of the 2018 season. The sophomore was 12-of-16 for 227 yards and two touchdowns through the air and posted 26 rushing yards with a touchdown on the ground.
He also did stuff like this:
Tua Tagovailoa is getting BAMA (-23.5) backers off to a great start.pic.twitter.com/pi0j43QP87
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) September 2, 2018
Maybe there will be games down the line that call for Saban to heavily feature Hurts, who was 5-of-9 for 70 passing yards on Saturday. But right now, it’s looking like this season could get even more uncomfortable if Saban refuses to call Tagovailoa his QB1.
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