- Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
- Just days before the start of the season, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has refused to name a starting quarterback.
- Both Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa have strong cases to win the job, but Saban has given no hint as to which one will be favored heading into the Crimson Tide’s season opener.
- Keeping both quarterbacks in the dark likely helped Alabama in the long run, but made it tougher for whichever player finds himself on the sidelines to start the year.
On Saturday the reigning champion Alabama Crimson Tide will begin its 2018 season against Louisville.
Nick Saban and the Tide are favored to win that game by 24 points and are favorites to repeat as champions at the end of the year, even though their team is missing one key feature – a starting quarterback.
Just five days before the season begins, Saban is still coy over which of his two stud quarterbacks will take the starting role – Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa.
Both players have a strong case to win the job. Hurts has been the starter at Bama for two straight seasons now, and lead the Tide to a 26-2 record and two consecutive national title games. It’s about as strong a resume as you can imagine, but Hurts has been less than effective in both of Bama’s championship games and was eventually benched at halftime of last year’s title game, opening the door for Tagovailoa to lead Alabama to an unbelievable comeback victory.
This leaves Saban with a difficult choice – does he start the player that’s carried Alabama to consecutive title games or the player that won one of them? So far, he’s elected simply not to choose, listing both players as co-starters on depth charts.
Alabama’s depth chart pic.twitter.com/oWJmqhfo8V
— Ryan C. Fowler (@RyanCFowler) August 27, 2018
Saban isn’t just coy in his paperwork. When asked repeatedly by reporters to explain the starting situation, Saban would only respond by highlighting that there is always competition at every position on his roster and that he’d tell the media his decision when he is ready.
— Chris Renkel CBS 42 (@Chris_Renkel) August 27, 2018
While Saban’s reluctance to designate either player as the team’s starter heading into the season isn’t a huge problem for Alabama, it will likely prove frustrating for whichever young player misses out on the job. Both Hurts and Tagovailoa have multiple years of eligibility left, and either one of them would have been highly recruited transfers had they found out they were going to wind up second on the depth chart this year.
Keeping both players works to the benefit of Saban – having a capable backup that was ready to go on a moment’s notice is what won them a national championship last year. But Saban’s insistence that the competition is still ongoing likely robbed one of them of a starting opportunity elsewhere.
Saban only has five more days until his secret is revealed and Alabama starts its season. Until then, Hurts and Tagovailoa will have to keep competing.