Is Nick Saban Really A Football Genius For Going To Tua Tagovailoa In The Second Half Of The National Championship Game?
I know we are all expected to bow before the man that's basically created an NFL feeder program that's a shoe-in for at least 12 wins annually, but is it somehow possible that in coming back from 13 points down in the second half to win the National Championship with a freshman quarterback that he actually didn't show some god-like ability to tap into his endlessly athletic resources?
In college sports, recruiting is to the war as the actual games are to the battles, so it's a credit to Nick Saban that he even had some teenage southpaw that was capable slinging all over the yard as an insurance policy, but to keep said kid on the bench as Jalen literally Hurts your title aspirations one play at a time? There's something to be said about Alabama wanting to go with the more experienced player as it's theoretically the less risky option for a team that typically using their superior talent to bludgeon teams to death on the ground. Still, that justification holds a hell of a lot less water when the guy you've entrusted to manage the game lacks quite a bit in the most fundamental skill necessary to lead a team downfield.
Just look at this reasoning...
“I just thought we had to throw the ball in the game, and I thought he could do it better,” Saban said in an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. “And he did. He did a good job. He made some plays in the passing game.” (h/t LBS)
In an era of football in which the forward pass has never been more important, the favored team shrunk their margin of error against a freshman quarterback by having theirs on the bench despite an admission that he was far superior at throwing. If that's a transcendent display of genius then I guess Nick Saban also deserves praise for putting his most elusive athletes at running back. In essence, going to the guy who you know to be capable of moving the ball through the air seems like a pretty easy decision when you're down two scores and the player ahead of him on the depth chart has accrued 21 yards in 30 minutes while having as many rushing attempts as completions on the year.
Admittedly, it was ballsy for Nick Saban to toss a 19 year old to the Dawgs in front of over 70,000 people on college sports' biggest stage when he's strictly been used during garbage time all season, but not nearly as stubborn as it was to wait until he was on the brink of defeat in a goddamn championship game to give his best arm (his words, not mine) significant action against a viable opponent.
By summoning a skill set that was too impressive not to standout in practice all year, Tua Tagovailoa bailed out Nick Saban. So while Alabama's head coach might be the best in the nation, excuse me if I am a little hesitant to pat him on the ass in this particular case. Instead, I'll leave that honor to the player whose unbelievable effort has people talking as if this win defines the legacy of a guy who acted out of depression and probably should have known that his backup was far better than his situationally stymied starter prior to 10PM on the last night of the season...