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Jalen Hurts’ dad stirs up a quiet quarterback battle, hints at transfer

Rat Poison strikes with a vengeance

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<p zoompage-fontsize="15">AllState Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Alabama

I WILL PUT SOME VARIANT OF THIS PHOTO UP EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The possibility of Jalen Hurts transferring is very real. It was a distinct possibility when Tua Tagovailoa arrived on campus. And, it became a Vegas betting game after the College Football Playoff National Championship game.

Going into this Spring then, the question was “Tua or Jalen,” — an inquiry that was chilled by both Tagovailoa’s injury, Saban’s praise of all the quarterbacks, and more tellingly his silence on the substance of the competition.

That takes us to today, 48 hours before the A-Day game, when Hurts’ father, Averion Hurts, opened up in real-talk interview with Bleacher Report:

The elder Hurts told Bleacher Report that he respects Alabama coach Nick Saban and put the onus on his son to in the 2018 QB battle in Tuscaloosa.

”I told Jalen, you (expletive) up, you opened the door and put yourself in this situation. Now it’s up to you to dig yourself out,” Hurts said.

”Coach Saban’s job is to do what’s best for his team. I have no problem with that. My job is to do what’s best for Jalen — and make no mistake, Jalen is a quarterback, and he wants to play quarterback. He loves Alabama, loves Coach Saban and everything about that place. But he wants to play, and he will play.”

Let’s parse through those remarks.

First, as a football coach, Averion was very candid about Saban’s job in picking the best man to lead the team. And, yes, in a pique of tough love, Jalen did need to hear that he “f’ed up...” that he did open the door to the freshman. But, I don’t necessarily see anything in the statement that “he wants to play, and he will play” as necessitating transfer, that he wouldn’t play except as a quarterback or that the demotion is a fait accompli.

That is, until you get into some futher comments by the elder Hurts that simply do no do a service to his son, to the evolving positional battle, to Hurts’ future pro prospects, or to the school:

“Averion stops mid-sentence because the idea of his son not playing for Alabama isn’t one he takes lightly. What if Jalen doesn’t win the job, he is asked?

He shakes his head slowly, answers begrudgingly. “Well, he’d be the biggest free agent in college football history.”

That doesn’t resonate at all with what his teammates say about him in the very same interview:

“This whole thing about Jalen is going to be a backup or he’s going to give up, it’s all just completely bogus,” said Alabama tailback Damien Harris. “Anyone who thinks he’s just going to sit back and take it, clearly doesn’t know him.”

Or, as Alabama offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher said succinctly, “Hungry dogs run faster.”

As parents, we know our children and their talents and shortcomings on an intellectual level. At the same time, we want to believe in our children’s abilities and their resilience and ability to improve and overcome adversity on the other. These often conflict or are not in accord with the other. What we have here by Averion is a little of both, to be honest. And that’s completely understandable, both as a parent and an unbiased look at Jalen’s two-year accomplishments. It may be less so when evaluating who should start at quarterback.

But, Averion putting his thumb on the scale in a way that prejudices either the battle or puts his kid in a “must-transfer” end-game is a distraction and pressure that the team doesn’t need, that the coaching staff doesn’t need, and that Jalen doesn’t need — and frankly, it’s one that he doesn’t deserve.

The competition deserves to play itself out. Jalen deserves to make his own decisions.

The dog has barely started running in 2018.

The team believes in both guys — Dad should too.