Nick Saban: Jalen Hurts told me he is staying at Alabama this season

Alabama’s Jalen Hurts (2) is seen on the bench with Tua Tagovailoa (13) head coach Nick Saban during the second half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

There are a lot of different directions a quarterback competition can go.

At Alabama, where Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa are set to duke it out for the starting role, Nick Saban seems to have eliminated one possible outcome on Tuesday.

Saban visited the ESPN campus and made the rounds on various shows. In one appearance, Saban said Hurts told him that he would be with the program through December, when he is set to graduate.

From ESPN.com:

Saban, however, told ESPN’s Sage Steele on Tuesday that Hurts told him he was staying at Alabama after the coach fielded a question about the quarterback’s future during SEC media days.

“Jalen actually came to me and said … ‘I am going to be here. I am going to be here. I came here to get an education. I graduate in December, and I’m going to be here,'” Saban said Hurts told him.

Jalen Hurts’ dad implied his son would transfer if he lost the starting job

In an April interview with Bleacher Report, Averion Hurts had a blunt assessment of the Alabama quarterback situation.

His son, Jalen Hurts was the team’s starter as a true freshman in 2016 and again in 2017 as a sophomore. However, he was removed from the lineup at halftime of the College Football Playoff title game and replaced by Tagovailoa. Georgia led 13-0 at half, but Tagovailoa sparked the offense and led the Tide to a dramatic 26-23 win in overtime.

Since then, the impending QB competition has been one of college football’s biggest storylines. Averion Hurts said if his son ends up behind Tagovailoa on the depth chart, he would likely pursue a transfer. In a quote that grabbed headlines, the elder Hurts said his son would be the “biggest free agent in college football history” if he left Alabama.

It wouldn’t be a sour grapes situation either, Averion explained.

“Coach Saban’s job is to do what’s best for his team. I have no problem with that,” Averion Hurts said. “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…”

After the story came out, Saban told reporters that he had a “positive” conversation about the situation with Averion.

“His dad was very positive and I think at the end of the day everyone has career decisions they have to make,” Saban said. “Nobody knows what the outcome of this situation is going to bring for us. We don’t want any players not to be able to fulfill their goals and aspirations in our program here. We don’t want that for any of our players.”

Saban: The QB who wins the job must ‘win the team’

At SEC Media Days, Saban was prepared for a barrage of QB-related questions, and said the result of the competition was “still to be determined,” especially considering Tagovailoa missed much of the spring nursing a hand injury.

In order to ultimately name a starter, Saban said either Hurts or Tagovailoa must win over their teammates more than anybody else.

“I think it’s our job to give both players a very fair opportunity to have a chance to win the team at their position. I think that one of the two guys — obviously, both are capable. We’ll create a role for one or both of those guys on our team, and they’ll all have to make a decision based on what that outcome is as to what their future is, you know, at Alabama,” Saban said.

Saban was also realistic about a potential transfer

As Saban noted to ESPN, Hurts is on pace to graduate from Alabama in December. From there, he could pursue a graduate transfer where he would be immediately eligible at his next school. Saban acknowledged the possibility last week.

“We certainly would love for every player on our team to stay at the University of Alabama and graduate. Jalen has a great opportunity to do that in December. So, we are hopeful that he will stay there and be a graduate regardless of what his circumstance is as a player,” Saban said.

“But that’s not to minimize his chances of being a starter and making a great contribution to our team in some way, even if he isn’t a starter.”

Tagovailoa admitted the thought of transferring crossed his mind during the 2017 season, so Hurts isn’t the only Bama QB who could potentially transfer. It’s all speculative at this point, though.

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