Monday’s national championship game is a battle of Tigers, but a departing star quarterback from another program was a popular topic at Saturday’s Media Day in New Orleans.

Both Dabo Swinney and Ed Orgeron were asked about Tua Tagovailoa. To the surprise of no one, Orgeron, like Swinney, had high praise for the Crimson Tide quarterback leaving for the NFL.

“First of all, I think he’s one of the best college football players ever,” Orgeron told reporters. “He changed the way we do things in the SEC. It’s wonderful. He’s a pioneer. He has a great family.”

Tagovailoa memorably put on a show in Baton Rouge during the 2018 season when Alabama defeated LSU 29-0. Orgeron was impressed the first time Tagovailoa threw a pass in the game.

“I remember two years ago we were playing them, and my first recollection of his first pass, it was the quickest release I’ve seen in 35 years of football,” Orgeron said.

He continued his reflection on Tagovailoa’s three-year career.

“Now, you can practice it until you see something else. A tremendous competitor. Always handles himself with first class. I can’t say that I’m sorry that he’s not coming back. I’m not going to say that. But he meant a lot for football. I think he’s going to be a tremendous pro. I hope he stays healthy and has a great year.”