Is Super Bowl hopeful Jalen Hurts Alabama's or Oklahoma's? Stop the insanity
Funny how a whiff of the Super Bowl can stir up trouble.
If there was a big debate about which college Jalen Hurts identified with back when the quarterback was drafted in 2020 by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round, I missed it. Didn't hear a lot about it after his rookie year either, when he had a 33.8 QBR and lost three consecutive starts to finish the season.
But here he is now, an NFL MVP candidate and a 60-minute blink away from Super Bowl LVII, and suddenly he's a fresh patch of scorched earth on the college football social media landscape. Apparently, there's some brand value in tying his breakthrough season as an NFL superstar to a particular set of college team colors.
More:Tramel: Will OU's Jeff Lebby be a candidate for Alabama offensive coordinator job?
Some quick record-keeping: Hurts left Alabama after three seasons, the last of which was spent sitting behind an up-and-coming Tua Tagovailoa, and transferred to Oklahoma, where he played exceptionally well in 2019 before he was off to the pros. On Saturday, after breezing past the New York Giants 38-7 to earn a berth in the NFC title game, he was asked about being "from Oklahoma." Hurts replied "I went to Alabama, too, so I guess they're well-represented now, too."
A video clip of that set off a feverish social media debate about Hurts' college roots. Never mind that Hurts himself professes a split allegiance to both schools at virtually every chance, and was doing just that on Saturday in answering the question. His own feelings about it, for some, apparently don't matter.
Among the talking points:
From which school did Hurts graduate?
Where did he finish his playing days?
Where did he win a national championship?
From which school was he drafted?
At which school did he have his best season?
Which school's gear does he wear more?
Both Alabama and Oklahoma ring up points on these fronts that Hurts has already considered and settled on. The only part of the discussion that was never really up to Hurts was which school got credit for placing him in the NFL draft. The NFL goes with the last school attended, as it should, and not even UA itself bucks that standard. Alabama's official news release on its 2020 draft results made no mention of Hurts.
More:Tramel: Maybe the time has come for OU football to enter the SEC sooner than later
Other than that, only Hurts' opinion matters.
He once told The Dan Patrick Show that if faced with choosing between watching Alabama or Oklahoma if both were playing a crucial game in the same time slot, he'd have to flip the channel back and forth. Then, of course, there's the ultimate test: Sunday and Monday Night Football introductions, when the starting lineups let you know where they went to college. "Jalen Hurts, Channelview High School," he says, stiff-arming the college choice with a hat tip to the school, which lies on the outskirts of Houston, that sent him to college in the first place. It's worth noting why Alabama fans hold Hurts in a place of endearment like probably no other player to ever transfer out. He was the starter throughout a national championship season, before Tagovailoa took over at halftime of a title-clinching win over Georgia. He then backed up Tagovailoa the following year without complaint, and led a comeback win over the Bulldogs for an SEC Championship in relief of Tagovailoa, who was injured.
If Hurts ends up winning a Super Bowl, every photo of him from the obligatory trip to DisneyWorld will be scoured for whether he's wearing an Alabama this or an Oklahoma that. Maybe the creative arts folks who build out social media graphics for the OU and UA football programs will both break out their paintbrushes.
Good thing for Hurts, Alabama and Oklahoma colors are hard to distinguish.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Is Super Bowl hopeful Jalen Hurts Alabama's or Oklahoma's?