When it became clear that Hurts, the Tide’s starter in 2016 and 2017, was the backup behind Tua Tagovailoa this season, some wondered if he would try to take a redshirt this season in order to maintain a year of eligibility. New NCAA rules allow a player to participate in as many as four games without burning any eligibility.
But unlike Clemson’s Kelly Bryant, who was benched for Trevor Lawrence and decided to transfer before the Tigers’ fifth game, Hurts is sticking with Alabama — for 2018, at least. Nick Saban is pleased with the way it played out.
“I know there has been a lot of talk around here about guys transferring and the transfer rule, but Jalen obviously handled this extremely well relative to being a great team player and team leader, respecting his teammates and sticking with the program here,” Saban said Saturday.
“He played very well today and took advantage of when he does have an opportunity to play to play well and trying to create value for himself, which I think would be the message that I would send to all players out there who are trying to take advantage of this new rule.”
Nick Saban: ‘This is not a good rule’
When the redshirt rule was proposed and passed, it was pitched as a way to get young players on the field without jeopardizing a year of eligibility for limited action. Saban has been a vocal supporter of the rule in that respect, but does not like older players taking advantage of it in the way Bryant, Oklahoma State’s Jalen McCleskey and a few others have.
“I do think that this is not a good rule. The timing of guys being able to say ‘I want to get redshirted’ is not good — the fourth or fifth or sixth game of the season after they’ve played three or four games,” Saban said.
Saban said coaching staffs have an obligation to develop players for the future — on and off the field. But Saban also thinks it’s a two-way street.
“We have a responsibility and obligation, in my opinion, to do a great job of helping our players be more successful in life because they’re in the program. We have a responsibility and obligation to the players here to do that, but they also have a responsibility and obligation to play for their team,” Saban said.
“We gave them a scholarship. I don’t really think it’s fair to their teammates to have the option to not continue to play. I think that’s not a good thing. I think the intent of the rule was so you can play a young player, a freshman player, and enhance his development. This has turned into something that I think is less than what we all desired it to be.”
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