If you are an Alabama fan like I am, then this weekend was probably the first time all year you thought: “Oh shit, we may actually lose this game.” One that is uncommon for Tide fans, yes, but ultimately a terrifying wake-up call nonetheless. This is arguably the most exciting team in the history of college football and the thought of our dream season being ruined at the hands of a fierce rival is devastating. Lucky for us, an old friend by the name of Jalen Hurts was there to save the day when disaster struck.
When Heisman candidate Tua Tagovailoa went down late in the second half while we were down by two touchdowns, it looked like all hope was lost. As much as we love Jalen Hurts in T-Town, if Tua couldn’t score on this defense then it seemed as if Jalen would have no luck either. However, Jalen Hurts said, “F*ck that,” and proceeded to lead the Tide to one of the most emotional and exciting victories I have ever witnessed in my life.
With Alabama’s dominance over the last decade, it is difficult to feel bad for them or ever consider them an underdog. Before I decided to attend college here I hated the Tide like most people outside the “great” state of Alabama. Auburn’s returned missed field goal in the Iron Bowl in 2013 is one of my favorite football memories; however, what happened on
Saturday is truly one of the most inspirational things I could have ever imagined.
To understand this story we have to start in January during the National Championship game. Alabama was down by 13 points to Georgia at halftime and star quarterback Jalen Hurts was playing horribly. On the bench was highly-recruited freshman Tua Tagovailoa who had played well when given chances, and many people wanted him to play due to Jalen’s recent struggles. At halftime Nick Saban made the difficult choice to bench a player who had a record of 26-2 and had been the face of the top football program in the nation for the past two seasons in favor of a true freshman. It turned out to be one of the greatest decisions in college football history as Tua led a fierce comeback that ended with a 41-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Smith to claim the natty title. It was a heroic comeback that thrust Tua into the national spotlight, but also forced Jalen to take a backseat.
After Tua beat out Jalen this offseason to win the starting quarterback job it seemed inevitable that Jalen was going to transfer. Why would a star player stay here and ride the bench instead of going somewhere else and being the centerpiece? He was able to play up to four games before he could no longer declare a redshirt and would lose a year of eligibility. When he trotted onto the field for his fourth game, he cemented himself as a fan favorite in Tuscaloosa. Although he was the backup, the prospect of having two star quarterbacks was intriguing and everyone gained respect for Jalen for sticking with his team.
Jalen finally got his shot this past Saturday. In the same stadium against the same team where it seemed his career came crashing down on him, he stepped up when his number got called and led the Tide on an improbable comeback that ended with a QB draw that went for 15 yards and a score. It was vintage Jalen Hurts and the play reminded us why this time last year he was one of the most talked about players in football.
If there is one thing to take away from this game, it’s the honor and integrity that Jalen Hurts has displayed in the past year. Losing your starting job to a freshman on the biggest stage in the sport must be devastating and would have broken most players mentally. But Jalen Hurts is not most players, and it only motivated him to work harder. Instead of transferring he stuck it out with his team not because he had to but because he wanted to. It’s easy to look at Bama as those assholes who win all the time, but the team really has an unreal relationship and support system that Jalen did not want to step away from. He wanted to stay and play for the greatest collegiate coach of all time and he knew when his opportunity came this year, he was going to seize it.
Jalen is a perfect example of what an athlete should be in an era where entitled assholes like Le’veon Bell are willing to sit out entire seasons of their career just to make some more money. In today’s day and age when teammates turn on each other like damn high school girls, Jalen had the maturity to stick things out with his teammates despite his unfavorable situation. At the end of the day, Jalen showed us all that as long as you keep your head down and work your ass off, you will get your opportunity to succeed. Despite what happens in the rest of the season, Jalen Hurts and this Alabama team will go down in history as one of the toughest and most resilient teams in history, and if Jalen has to start the rest of the season, then the rest of college football better watch out because he has a mission to accomplish. Roll Damn Tide!
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