The 4 questions I wish I could ask Jalen Hurts
There are two things that I believe are safe bets when it comes to Jalen Hurts.
One is that he will not finish his career at Alabama. Barring a Tua Tagovailoa injury, the odds of Hurts being content riding the bench or playing with 4-touchdown leads doesn’t seem like it would appeal to him. It seems inevitable at this point that Hurts will test the waters as a grad transfer in some fashion. Whether he does so with 1 year of eligibility or 2 remains to be seen.
The other thing I’d bet on is that Hurts will not be available to speak to the media for a very, very long time. Perhaps his days of media availability are over.
I covered 2 of 3 Alabama games so far and the idea of Hurts walking out of the postgame locker room to talk to the media seemed less likely than Mac Jones starting a game (no offense, Mac). So for now, all we have is speculation on what Hurts will do.
But what if that weren’t the case? Like, what if we could actually ask Hurts direct questions and get direct answers?
Obviously a simple “are you transferring” isn’t going to get a direct answer. “Where are you transferring” won’t get a direct answer, either.
There are, however, things that I wish I could ask Hurts that would actually shed some light on where his head is at right now. He has played in three games. He can play in one more and retain his redshirt. He shared more than we ever thought possible in August, which only fueled the belief that he would eventually find another place to play.
So here are the 4 questions that I’d ask Hurts that I believe I’d actually get answers to.
1. Is your mind made up on what you’re doing the rest of 2018, and if so, when did that happen?
When Hurts spoke in August, he didn’t talk like someone who lacked a plan. He was decisive, confident and surprisingly transparent as to where his head was. By asking him a question this way, it provides key context without forcing him to say what exactly his next move is.
The “when” could shed some light on the “what.” If he made his mind up when he wasn’t announced as the Week 1 starter that he knew what was next, that would confirm the belief that he is indeed transferring.
If he came back with a “I haven’t made my mind up yet,” then that perhaps means he’s waiting for the possibility of a Tagovailoa injury, or he’s waiting to see if Saban will adhere to Hurts’ desire to actually use the redshirt rule.
Speaking of that …
2. Do you even want to redshirt?
Hurts is fast approaching the 4-game cap to retain a redshirt. I don’t know if Hurts has a desire to use the redshirt rule. Nobody really does. Based on how he spoke about his “brand” back in August, he didn’t sound like someone who was going to put his head down and waste the rest of his eligibility as a backup.
Conventional wisdom says that would be the obvious choice, but it would be fascinating to hear Hurts give an answer that’s “ideally, no, but I understand what it would mean.”
I’m sure he’s grappled with the basic premise before. Because if Tagovailoa gets hurt and is out for a couple weeks, that would still burn Hurts’ redshirt, but it wouldn’t really change anything. Tagovailoa wouldn’t lose his job because of how dominant he’s been to start the season. This isn’t like the Jacob Eason/Jake Fromm situation or even like last year’s Hurts/Tagovailoa dynamic for that simple fact.
At the same time, Hurts wants to play more than anything. Maybe there is still a piece of him that feels he could win his job back in the event of a Tagovailoa injury.
Whatever the case, it’d be a must-hear answer if the question could be asked.
3. What are your thoughts on the way Nick Saban has handled this quarterback situation since the season started?
This is sort of what triggered Hurts’ comments in August about how he didn’t get communication from Saban about what the coach was thinking. Obviously this question hasn’t been able to be asked since the season started.
I’d love to know if Hurts is satisfied with his role for now because he’s been getting so many snaps with Alabama up big, or if a former SEC Offensive Player of the Year is frustrated that he’s only playing when the lead is big enough. I would tend to think it’s the latter, though admittedly that’s pure speculation.
Who knows? Maybe Hurts would rather see Saban call Mac Jones’ number moving forward so that he could know that he would at least have the redshirt option available.
Also, this would go back to when this thing got some answers a few weeks ago. How did Hurts feel about not winning the job? Did he feel he deserved to win it based on what he accomplished? Those are questions within the question that if Hurts felt compelled like he did in August, he’d dig into.
At least I’d hope he would.
4. What scenario would involve you not leaving Alabama at season’s end?
Again, Hurts isn’t just going to answer the question on everyone’s mind. These type of conversations don’t exist in media availability:
Reporter: So, Jalen. When are you leaving Alabama?
Hurts: Well, that depends. Are we talking leave the team or leave the school?
Hurts: If I had to guess, I’d say I’ll leave the team around Week 6. Saban will have used my 4 games after the Louisiana game and Lord knows we’ll be up a billion after the first quarter against Arkansas, so he’ll probably want to put me in my fifth game. I won’t let him do that.
Reporter: So you’re saying as soon as your 4 games are up, you’re gone?
Hurts: That sounds about right.
Reporter: What about the other question?
Hurts: Oh, that’s right. My bad. Like I said back in August, why would I leave when I’m so close to graduating? Obviously I’ll quit the team and stay enrolled at Alabama until I graduate in December. Then it’s 2 years of grad school somewhere else.
Reporter: Thanks for the insight, Jalen!
Man, what a world that would be. That type of transparency is unrealistic.
What is realistic is that Hurts speaks to how he would like to see things play out. As in, what would Saban have to do to get him to stick around? There might not be anything. Maybe Saban promising Hurts something like a split workload. The odds of that happening are slim to none given how obvious it is that Tagovailoa is a transcendent talent.
And of course if Saban did that, the flip side is what that would do to Tagovailoa. Certainly the last thing Alabama wants is any notion that Tagovailoa is unhappy and that he’d want a full workload elsewhere. Saban is too smart to let that happen.
Hurts is too smart to not realize the obvious. The job is no longer his and barring injury or discipline, he’ll never start another game at Alabama. He can see the writing on the wall. Hurts doesn’t have to be available to the media for everyone to know that this isn’t exactly what he envisioned for the latter half of his career, and that he needs a new opportunity.
Sooner or later, he’ll get that message out for the world to hear.