Alabama coach Nick Saban has come under significant criticism for his handling of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Saturday’s game, but another high-profile name in the sport has his back.
Tagovailoa was still in the game with three minutes left in the first half despite the fact that he was still recovering from an ankle injury and had the team ahead 35-7. That was the point that Tagovailoa hurt his hip, an injury that is set to end his season. Many argued that Saban was reckless with his quarterback and that Tagovailoa should have been resting by that point. Saban later said in an interview that that was going to be Tagovailoa’s last possession of the game.
Urban Meyer, now doing analysis for FOX Sports, said he understood where Saban was coming from in his decision to leave Tagovailoa in.
“I was staring at Coach Saban’s face right there. He’s hurting,” Meyer said. “He’s gonna get his players ready to play the games coming up down the road. … It’s the obligation of the coach to get the team ready. And he sees Auburn coming down the road, a potential SEC Championship, and he made the comment about a two-minute drill. I certainly understand that. Is it the right thing or the wrong thing? That’s his decision to make with the player involved.”
Meyer also relayed a story from when he was coaching Florida about an injury suffered by Tim Tebow. Meyer had decided Tebow would not play in a massive game against LSU, but he was cleared by doctors. Meyer initially didn’t change his stance until a “heated” discussion with Tebow and his father, and the coach ultimately relented. That story was meant to illustrate that players want to play, and that Tagovailoa probably didn’t want to be sitting, either.
Saban said as much after the game.
The "kid" wanted to play this week. He advocated for it. He was given the opportunity to not play. He and his family wanted to play because they felt he was well enough to play. Stop blaming and just be concerned about the "kid." You don't know what the hell you're talking about.
— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) November 16, 2019
Tagovailoa’s injury sounds very severe, and the second-guessing of Saban will continue. That second-guessing does not sound likely to come from Meyer.