There were moments during Monday night’s College Football National Championship in which Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban, for once, looked frustratingly human. With the Georgia Bulldogs leading 13-0 at halftime and Alabama looking sluggish at best, it appeared that maybe the magic of Saban’s tenure as head coach had finally worn off.
Then Saban did it again in historic fashion, by pulling one of the gutsiest, and seemingly craziest coaching moves in the history of the sport. Coming back onto the field after halftime Saban boldly decided to replace seasoned quarterback Jalen Hurts, who holds a 25-2 record as a starter for the team, with true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who had yet to play a single snap as the starting quarterback.
The rest is history. With Bama’s defense holding steady against a brutal Bulldog offense led by runningback Sony Michel, Bama’s offense gained the spark it so desperately needed, scoring 20 points in the second half before winning the game in overtime.
In just one half of play Tagovailoa stunned audiences by going 14-24 passing and throwing three touchdowns, including the game-ending 41-yard TD pass down the sideline to receiver DeVonta Smith just moments after being taken down for a devastating sack. The poise of the young quarterback resembled the demeanor one would expect from an established star and team leader.
Where Alabama will go from here in regard to its starting quarterback situation is unclear, but one thing that was made visibly clear to both fans and critics alike on Monday night was that Saban is among college football’s greatest coaches ever – if not the best.
With six championship appearances and five championship trophies for Alabama under his belt in just 11 seasons as head coach, Saban has nothing left to prove; However, one would never know based on his apparent desire to win.
This year’s Alabama team was not the most-talented or most-hyped up team Saban has coached, but none of that seemed to matter Monday night, with the head coach stating after the game, “I think that respect and trust is something that’s really important to have in a good team. That’s something this team had.”
College Football’s grand finale to the season also gave evidence to those fans across the country who support the notion that the current playoff system should be extended to more than just four teams. Although Alabama has enjoyed sustained success under Nick Saban, they were indeed the fourth and last seed in this year’s bracket, with Georgia being the third seed.
A change to an eight team bracket would give a championship shot to teams that debatably could have been given the fourth seed this year such as Ohio State and Wisconsin.