Alabama coach Nick Saban says he hasn’t chosen his starting quarterback for the 2018 season. And one of the candidates, incumbent starter Jalen Hurts, showed his disappointment and frustration Saturday about events leading up to the season.
He spoke to reporters for the first time since January. That’s when he was benched at halftime of the College Football Playoff title game against Georgia. And since then, he’s heard nothing but whether it will be him or Tua Tagovailoa — who led the Tide to a come-from-behind win in the championship game — starting and the speculation he will leave the program if he isn’t chosen.
“When I look at the things that are being said — and I’m not looking for it, it comes to me — when I see that those things are being said, that’s silly because, ‘He said this, he said that, maybe Coach [Nick] Saban said this,'” Hurts said. “Whoever said whatever, what did Jalen say? Not a thing.”
Hurts said he was “shocked” a few weeks ago when Saban told the SEC media that he didn’t know whether Hurts would still be with the team come the season opener on Sept. 1 against Louisville. He said Saturday that since then, he told Saban in a meeting that he will be with the team this fall and graduate in December.
“For me, no one came up to me the whole spring, coaches included, no one asked me how I felt,” said Hurts, a junior. “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. That’s that. So now it’s like when we try to handle the situation now, for me, it’s kind of late, it’s too late, the narrative has already been created.”
Hurt is 26-2 as a starter at Alabama and threw 17 touchdown passes and one interception last season. Tagovailoa, a sophomore, threw for three touchdowns in the comeback in the title game and is considered a better passer than Hurts. Still, Hurts said his experience should have earned him some respect.
“With the success that I’ve had here in my first two years, I’ve built a brand for myself, and I’ve tried to represent this university in the best way I can,” Hurts said.
Saban reiterated Saturday that the starting quarterback decision has yet to be made and will be based in part on “consistency in performance” as well as leadership.
“You guys are totally fixated on who has to be first team and who is second team. Why?” a frustrated Saban asked reporters.
When asked whether he would rotate the two quarterbacks, Saban said he wouldn’t engage in “creating negative contingencies.”
“We haven’t done it at all,” Saban said. “We’re practicing every day, we’re evaluating every day. … I want them to be focused on what they have to do to win.”
Meanwhile, Tagovailoa said there is no tension between himself and Hurts when it comes to the competition.
“We don’t talk about any quarterback controversies at practice,” Tagovailoa told reporters. “Me and Jalen don’t even bring it up. As far as this season, we’re just looking at getting each other better. There’s no negative contingencies. We don’t go into games thinking I might not start or I’m going to go into this game and I’m going to throw a pick.”