Well this is certainly interesting. On Thursday, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa revealed that he would’ve transferred away from Tuscaloosa had he not played in the second half of the national title game against Georgia.
Tagovailoa, who led the Tide to a 26-23 victory over the Bulldogs after he came in for starter Jalen Hurts, recently told the story while giving a talk to some kids from his old middle school this week:
“I called my dad and asked him if my offer to the University of Southern California was still available,” Tagovailoa said via Hawaii News Now. “I wanted to leave. I told my dad I wanted to go to a school where I thought it’d be easier for me and wouldn’t challenge me so much.”
Tagovailoa was a former five-star recruit from Honolulu, and the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2017 class per the 247Sports Composite. He went on to say that the Tide’s final game was essentially the last straw for him:
“Even throughout my football season, I wasn’t the starter,” Tagovailoa continued. “I wanted to leave the school. So I told myself if I didn’t play in the last game, which was the national championship game, I would transfer out. If I gave in, I don’t think I would have seen the end blessing of where I am now.”
A few days later, Tua expanded on his comments to CBS42’s Simone Eli:
“First off, I think if you’re a collegiate athlete, you’re most definitely competitive,” Tagovailoa told Eli as transcribed by Saturday Down South. “I mean, you’re going to feel like you want to play, and if your opportunity is not given, you know, sometimes you make emotional decisions. But I think for me, what I meant was when you feel like you kind of want to quit or if you want to give in, I think the more you kind of put your head in the ground — in the dirt, and you keep working and pushing, trying to push through it, I think that’s when you start to see the better of the end result.
“I kind of got the wrong end when I saw it on ESPN. I think they most definitely took it out of context saying if I didn’t play I would’ve left and whatnot. And I think sometimes if you don’t stick it in, like what I said, if you don’t stick it in, if you just keep giving up, you won’t see the end result and what God has prepared, which is the blessing. I don’t think I would’ve experienced it if I left.
“I was talking about Fourth Quarter (Program) more-so. When we’re doing the first day of Fourth Quarter, I wanted to leave; I called my dad, I called back home and I told him I wanted to go to USC … After our running, I come back to the dorm that night after tutoring and I call my dad and I tell him, ‘Dad, we’ve got to go. I can’t do this.’ I mean, if I just didn’t stick it in through that whole time during Fourth Quarter, during spring ball, during camp and then during the season, I don’t think me and you would’ve been here talking right now.”
WATCH: I spoke exclusively w/ #Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa about report that he would've transferred to #USC had he not played in championship. @Tuaamann_ explains comments (made to a group of kids) & says he "got the wrong end, most definitely taken out of context" #RollTide pic.twitter.com/jdgvCFQzhJ— Simone Eli (@SimoneEli_TV) May 20, 2018
The revelation is pretty interesting, especially considering Tagovailoa was still a true freshman last season. There’s some irony too — there’s been speculation that Hurts, whose spot Tagovailoa took in the second half, has been considering a transfer given how the title game played out. But since the title game, Hurts and Tagovailoa have maintained how strong their relationship is.
Tired of people not appreciating the fact that if this man led us to the National Championship. And for all the fans that are against Jalen, you against me too. You either WITH US or AGAINST US. Love you 2 #BigBroLittleBro @JalenHurts pic.twitter.com/ExjHAB7yHh— Tua. T (@Tuaamann_) January 11, 2018
“Well, I don’t know that you can balance,” Bama head coach Nick Saban said following the title game. “I think you do show your appreciation for it. I mean, one of the first things that I said to Jalen was we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. You put us in a position by the plays that you made and the way you played all year long, but it just seems to me like, if we’re going to have the best chance to win this game, that we may need to do it in a different way.”
One thing’s for sure — Alabama fans are lucky Tagovailoa didn’t transfer after what he was able to do against Georgia, including the game-winning TD in overtime.