Lane Kiffin says Tua Tagovailoa would have left Alabama if he did not play in title game
Nick Saban’s decision to bench Jalen Hurts in favor of freshman Tua Tagovailoa at halftime of Monday night’s national championship game may have done more than just spark a comeback win for Alabama. According to Lane Kiffin, it also prevented Saban from losing Tagovailoa to another program.
Kiffin, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Alabama from 2014-2016, told “The Dan Patrick Show” on Tuesday that Tagovailoa would have transferred from Alabama this offseason if he did not play against Georgia.
“If this second half doesn’t flip like this, and Alabama is moving the ball and doesn’t change [quarterbacks], people that really know what’s going on would tell you that Tua was leaving,” Kiffin said, as transcribed by Nick Cole of SEC Country. “Because Tua thought that he should be the starting quarterback and had outperformed (Hurts) in practice and (Saban) never gave him an opportunity.”
Kiffin, who recruited many of the players still on Alabama’s roster, said “no doubt” when Patrick asked him to clarify that he meant Tagovailoa would have transferred. He also made a bold prediction about the freshman.
“How this second half played out changes college football, because Tua is going to be one of the best quarterbacks in college football,” Kiffin added.
Kiffin went on to describe Tagovailoa’s talent as “off the charts,” and he revealed that Alabama wasn’t upset when Jake Fromm chose Georgia over them because they liked Tagovailoa so much.
Tagovailoa rallied the Tide back from down 13-0 to win 26-23 in overtime. The way he looked off the defense on his perfect 41-yard touchdown pass in OT had to have made NFL scouts drool. When you hear Saban’s explanation for making the quarterback change, you have to wonder if it will be Hurts who decides to leave Tuscaloosa this offseason.