Alabama football coach Nick Saban said Thursday night that he has a good relationship with the family of junior quarterback Jalen Hurts but that he has no idea how the competition between Hurts and sophomore Tua Tagovailoa will end.
Saban had to discuss the situation after Averion Hurts, Jalen's father, said his son would likely transfer if he isn't named the starter.
"We all want the same thing for all of the players who compete on our team, regardless of the position," Saban said in a news conference after the Crimson Tide's 14th practice of this spring session. "There is going to be a significant effort for a lot of folks to make this a very public thing, but it's going to be handled in a very private manner.
"Jalen has done a great job, and he's made a significant amount of improvement, but at the end of the day, everybody has career decisions they'll have to make."
The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Hurts has compiled a 26-2 record in two seasons as the starter, completing 394 of 637 passes (61.9 percent) for 4,861 yards with 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His touchdown-to-interception ratio last season was 17-to-1.
Hurts also has rushed 345 times for 1,809 yards (5.2 per carry) and 21 touchdowns his first two seasons.
Yet in January's national championship game against Georgia in Atlanta, Hurts was just 3-of-8 passing for 21 yards in the first half. More importantly, Alabama's offense failed to amass 100 yards and trailed 13-0 through 30 minutes.
Tagovailoa started the third quarter against the Bulldogs and rallied Alabama to a riveting 26-23 overtime triumph, but two hand injuries this spring have kept him from challenging Hurts in what was expected to be the most publicized position battle in all of college football. Saban announced this week that Tagovailoa would not play in Saturday afternoon's A-Day game, but the hype surrounding the competition quickly resurfaced due to Hurts' father speaking out in an interview with Bleacher Report.facebook
"Coach Saban's job is to do what's best for his team. I have no problem with that," said the elder Hurts, who is the head coach at Channelview (Texas) High School. "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 loves everything about that place, but he wants to play, and he will play."
When Bleacher Report reporter Matt Hays asked what would happen if Hurts didn't win the job, his father responded, "Well, he would be the biggest free agent in college football history."
Hurts was named the Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year as a freshman and was a Davey O'Brien Award semifinalist as a sophomore. His two career losses were against Clemson in the national championship game of the 2016 season and to Auburn in last season's Iron Bowl.
Alabama's only other scholarship quarterback is Mac Jones, who redshirted last season as a freshman. The Crimson Tide were favorites this offseason to land East Carolina graduate transfer Gardner Minshew, but Minshew instead selected Washington State as his destination.
"Nobody knows what the outcome of this situation is going to bring for us," Saban said. "We don't want any players not to be able to fulfill their goals and aspirations in our program here. Jalen's dad has always been very positive and supportive in every conversation that I've had, so I'm not really concerned with what somebody else chose to write, because I'm going to use the personal communication I have with a player.
"I don't think there is an issue or a problem from my standpoint."
Set to face Irish
Alabama and Notre Dame will play a home-and-home series for the 2028 and '29 seasons, the schools announced Thursday. The Crimson Tide and Fighting Irish will meet Sept. 2, 2028, in South Bend, Ind., before playing again Sept. 1, 2029, in Tuscaloosa, which will be their first meeting inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Notre Dame holds a 5-2 series edge, but Alabama won the most recent meeting by shredding the Irish 42-14 in the BCS championship game in the 2012 season in Miami.
"We are excited to be able to add a home-and-home series with a team like Notre Dame," Saban said in a release. "Alabama and Notre Dame represent two of the most storied programs in college football history. What a great opportunity for our team and our fans to be able to witness these teams play in two of the sport's most iconic venues."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.