The time has come.
To paraphrase, Nick Saban has a difficult situation, but not a difficult choice.
No announcement has been made. No announcement needs to be made. The offseason comments from his parents. Hurts finally and understandably dropping his good soldier brave face. He carries that defeat in his body language and in his tone. The humbling of a swaggering-but-graceful BMOC and likable superstar has been as palpable as it has been rapid.
While the incessant chatter of the sports talking heads grows tiring, and while there often seems to be no news but bad news around college athletics, there do arrive some moments that are special; so meaningful and so sublime that they touch you.
We were treated to just such a moment on Saturday.
There is a role for all of the Alabama quarterbacks to play this season. “Dance with them what brung ya’,” goes the old Texas aphorism. Hurts has a role on this team, and his days of quarterbacking the Tide are by no means over. Nick Saban has publicly commented on the possibility of playing two quarterbacks. You do not interject that kind of uncertainty into the equation if you don’t believe both players can and will contribute.
If you wrote a screenplay of January 8th, 2018, your editors may try to polish it and push you to Disney. But, if you gave them a follow-up script with an ending so improbable, and under circumstances so laughably familiar, as what happened on December 1st, 2018 — in the same building — you would be out of work.
In many ways, the circumstances of this redemption tale are even starker — this wasn’t supposed to be the throwing quarterback. Jalen Hurts wasn’t the player you wanted to lead an offense needing quick scores. Down two touchdowns on a night where the incumbent star not only didn’t have his best stuff, but on a night where the offensive line and play-calling struggled? Where the defense had been picked apart for 40 minutes?
After his struggles against Auburn and Georgia, and Clemson the year before, what was the Tide going to do?
Not Jalen Hurts. He couldn’t do this.
All Jalen did was everything he’s done throughout his Alabama career — be the cool customer; handle himself with grace, class and hellacious competitive fire; and, above all make big plays.
Sixteen-snap, 80-yard drive to tie the game.
Seven-of-nine passing for 82 yards and the tying score
Perfect on third downs at five-for-five
Twenty-eight yard dash, powering for the game-winning touchdown.
A moment that will live for as long as Alabama football will exist.
He has that history. Most people forgot.
The loser of this position competition will very probably transfer over the winter break. But, until then, two likeable young men will sublimate their hurt feelings into the team, support one another, and lead the Tide on another championship march.
Count on it. There will come a moments in a game, where Alabama leans on Jalen Hurts this season and he comes up big, as he has on many occasions previously. Though it did not win, perhaps my favorite Haiku in our recent contest summed up what we’ll see this Fall: Jalen or Tua? Jalen and Tua.
Jalen and Tua.