THE Sports & Swag Report

Saban turns Tua another Bama national championship


Bama National Championship, Tua and Jalen

The first to congratulate Tua Tagovailoa after his TD pass……. Jalen Hurts.

Why has Nick Saban now won six national titles and looks like he could go for six more before he hangs up his straw hat?

Of course, the excellent recruiting has a lot to do with it. No one stock piles talent like Alabama. That fact was on full display during Monday night’s thrilling victory. But, it goes deeper than just getting those players on campus. Coaching them up and pushing the right buttons at the right time are equally if not more important.

Then again, sometimes it’s not just about pushing the right buttons. Sometimes, it’s about pushing buttons that few if any other coach would dare touch.

Bama National Championship, Tua Tagovailoa

What Tua saw on game-winning 41-yard score…..

Case in point, Saban’s decision to turn away from starting QB Jalen Hurts and turn to true freshman Tua Tagovailoa in Monday night’s National Championship overtime victory over Georgia. Bama’s seventeenth national title overall, and an astounding fifth in the last nine seasons.

So, who benches a seasoned quarterback like Hurts, who threw exactly one interception all season, for a true freshman that had his most shining moment vs Vanderbilt in September. A game where the Tide almost scored as many points (59) as the Commodores gained in total offense (78). Name another coach that would replace the QB who is 26-2 as a starter with the backup that didn’t have one meaningful snap all season………. in the national championship game no less? I’ll wait…….

Bama National Championship, Tua Tagovailoa

Tua trying to get away from Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith.

Turning to Tua is yet another example of why Saban is simply better than everyone else and probably the best ever. This is nothing new from Saban. A prime example is the onside kick in the third quarter of the 2015 title game vs Clemson. Who besides New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton does that in a championship game? Remember that onside kick to open the second half in Super Bowl XLIV vs the Colts? The Saints might still have won that Super Bowl without Payton’s masterful call, but Bama doesn’t beat Clemson without Saban’s.

Which is why people either sound like a hater or totally clueless when they say that Saban wins titles only because he has better players. Well, Bama lost a lot of those players to injury this season, including key players like Lester Cotton and Jonah Williams in the Playoff. Both are starters along Bama’s offensive line. Which, makes Tua’s second half heroics even more remarkable.

This is easily the most injury-riddled team Saban’s had at Bama. Which, is a huge reason this is the best he’s coached at Bama since coming to Tuscaloosa in 2007.

Bama National Championship, Nick Saban

That Nick Saban smile after the onside kick in 2015 National Championship Game vs Clemson.

If you’ve watched Alabama football the last few weeks of the season, and even at times dating back to last season, you know the struggles of Hurts and the passing game. Those struggles prompted rumors prior to the Sugar Bowl of Tagovailoa playing vs Clemson. But, the Tide controlled the entire game as Clemson’s offense looked as bad for four quarters as Bama’s did in the first half Monday night. Clemson wasn’t going to score, so why take the risk?

If, Bama would have trailed at all vs Clemson, we likely would have seen Tua. Someone else coaching the team might would have gone to Tua vs Auburn. It’s all about Saban knowing not only that he needs to push that button, but when. It’s ultimately the difference between winning a title or not.

The scary part of all this is Tua Tagovailoa is of course, a freshman. The receiver that caught Tua’s game-winning TD, Devante Smith, is a freshman. The reserve left tackle, Alex Leatherwood, is a freshman. Bama’s leading rusher Monday night, Najee Harris, is a…….. well you know. On Monday night Nick Saban turned to Tua when Bama needed a spark. Can’t wait to see who he turns to next for another Bama national championship.

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