The Alabama Crimson Tide have been the premier college football program for as long as Nick Saban has stood on the sideline at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
With his defensive mind and ruthless coaching style, Saban has willed his talented teams past their limits. He gathers five-star athletes with ease and turns them into NFL-ready players within two years.
Now he is facing backlash for possibly ruining the Tide’s chances at reaching the College Football Playoff.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa dropped back against Mississippi State on Saturday, as he has done countless times in his career, and looked for an opening.
His initial reads yielded nothing. As he rolled to his left with 3:03 left in the second quarter in a 35-7 game, everything changed.
No one was open, and he threw the ball away as two Mississippi State defenders clung to him, causing him to fall awkwardly on his side. The Alabama sideline held its collective breath but it was for naught.
Tagovailoa carted off the field, and in the place of his usually smiling face, was one of blood and agony.
Alabama went on to win 38-7, but the damage was done.
Doctors diagnosed Tagovailoa with a dislocated and fractured hip and Alabama fans with a broken spirit.
As much as I love to see Tide fans in pain, his injury hurt the Southeastern Conference and every level of football.
Tagovailoa’s character and play elevate everyone around him. He has never said an unkind word about anyone publicly, and that is enough for anyone to wish the best for him.
Sure, he is also a machine that has done nothing but perform at the highest level for the majority of his career, but his character exceeds that tenfold.
This injury could ruin most of that. The projected first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft faces adversity from multiple NFL general managers for being injury-prone.
Even worse, will this injury hurt his unique spirit?
At least the latter can be put to rest as a video has surfaced of Tagovailoa playing the ukulele in his hospital bed with that same smile on his face.
The only question remains is that of his play. Reports have come out saying that his surgery was successful and he could start throwing in the spring.
Successful surgeries do not always yield the best results, but the news is encouraging for the young star.
Every football fan across America should want Tagovailoa to play. He raises the ability of every player on for either side to compete at their best — an attribute that does not come around often.
The question of Tagovailoa playing in a game that was in-hand is irrelevant as multiple teams have kept their starters in games and have faced no consequences.
Saban did not want one of the best players in the country to get injured, but he was not practicing the “two-minute drill” either. No competent head coach begins pulling starters before halftime, no matter the disparity between teams.
Whatever the reason Saban had to keep Tagovailoa in, whether it was to see how his ankle would hold up or any of the reasons above, it doesn’t matter.
With that being said, Saban should face little backlash for wanting to secure a win a week after a loss. Instead, the focus should be on how to move on from Tagovailoa and lose another important game against LSU, possibly in Atlanta, Phoenix or even New Orleans.