“Every player has a right to express what he feels and what he thinks.”
Tagovailoa replaced Hurts halfway through last January’s national championship game, then led a comeback win against Georgia after Hurts struggled. Tagovailoa is a former five-star recruit (Hurts was a four-star), and Tagovailoa is more commonly thought to be the favorite.
Hurts is 26-2 in two years as Alabama’s starter. Most evaluators think Tagovailoa has a better arm, while Hurts has been a key part of the Tide’s running game.
At the start of fall camp, Hurts expressed disappointment at how Alabama’s coaching staff treated him during an offseason filled with rumors.
@JalenHurts: “No one came up to me the whole spring, coaches included, no one asked me how I felt. No one asked me what was on my mind. … Now when we’re trying to handle the situation now, for me it’s kinda late. It’s too late. The narrative has already been created.” pic.twitter.com/adJS7UxmdL
— Alex Byington (@_AlexByington) August 4, 2018
Here’s a transcript of what Hurts says in that video:
This is a situation that is uncontrollable. Coaches can’t control this situation. They’ll dictate who plays, but as far as other variations to it, they don’t control it, honestly. Like I said, this whole spring, ever since the game, they kinda wanted to let it play out. They kinda, I guess, didn’t think it was a thing, or tried to let it die down, like it wasn’t something there.
It’s just always been an elephant in the room, and it’s like, for me, no one came up to me the whole spring, coaches included. No one asked me how I felt. No one asked me what was on my mind. No one asked me how I felt about the things that were going on. Nobody asked me what my future held, and that’s that. So now it’s like, when we try and kinda handle the situation now, for me, it’s kinda late. It’s too late. The narrative has already been created.
Four days later, Nick Saban was asked about Hurts’ comments
Nick Saban on Jalen Hurts’ comments: My comments were that every player has a right to express what he feels and what he thinks. … But, look, this is probably a lot more important to people outside the organization than inside.
— Alex Scarborough (@AlexS_ESPN) August 8, 2018
A reporter asked Hurts shortly after his initial comments it was “problem” or “an issue for you” that coaches or teammates hadn’t reached out to ask about him.
I think as a player, you definitely want to feel some concern from your coaches, I guess. But I don’t necessarily think they were not concerned, because they’re definitely concerned. I just don’t think that they were maybe bold enough to ask, like it was ‘“ know it’s there, but I don’t wanna talk about it.” And I definitely think it was something that should’ve been talked about a long time ago, instead of being talked about when it’s here. It’s kinda like a stove. After that game, the stove got turnt on. The heat got turnt up. Now, it’s like, OK, already put the pot on the stove. Now we put the food on the stove. Now the food’s cooking, all right? And come the season officially starts, the food’ll be done.
In a part of his media availability that most won’t hear, Hurts did say:
“Regardless of what people say, I’m still here. As far as I’m concerned, my job is to be the best quarterback I can be, and that’s what I strive to do every day.”
Upon seeing Hurts, comments, his former offensive coordinator took a veiled shot at Nick Saban:
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) August 4, 2018
Hurts has been a rumored transfer candidate for months, in part because of public comments by his father, Averion.
In April, Averion Hurts told Bleacher Report’s Matt Hayes that if Jalen didn’t win the starting job at Alabama, “he’d be the biggest free agent in college football history.”
“I told Jalen, you f–ked up, you opened the door and put yourself in this situation,” Averion Hurts, Jalen’s dad, told B/R in an exclusive interview in the Hurts’ hometown of Channelview, Texas. “Now it’s up to you to dig yourself out.”
Hurts is expected to graduate from Alabama at the end of the year. That would make him eligible to play immediately if he transferred following the 2018 season.
Saban said in July that Hurts had told him he’d graduate in December and that he was “going to be here.” It’s unclear if that meant in 2018 or 2019.
Saban has insisted both players have a chance to start, but he’s also suggested Hurts’ father’s comments weren’t helpful.
In the same interview, Saban told ESPN that he’d told both QBs “everything you do to bring attention to yourself, or anybody even in your family that brings attention to yourself” would make it harder for them to “win the team” and claim the starting job.
Saban has said Alabama doesn’t have a QB controversy and blamed the media for dramatizing what he sees as a standard position battle.
Tagovailoa has also made public noise about a potential transfer.
In May, he indicated to a bunch of kids at a camp in his native Hawaii that he was prepared to transfer to USC if he didn’t get into the national championship game.
Tagovailoa later said he was taken out of context.
Alabama has a ton of QBs in the fold, so someone’s going at some point.
Bama has four scholarship QBs on its roster right now, and all are slated to still have college eligibility in 2019. The Tide have two QBs committed for 2019, and while verbal commitments don’t always stick, those QBs are Tagovailoa’s little brother and Bear Bryant’s great-grandson. If nobody left the program or backed out of a commitment, the Tide would have six of their 85 scholarships devoted to QBs next year. That won’t happen.