As news of Tua Tagovailoa’s injury spread, many people asked why the quarterback was still playing with Alabama up 35-7 on Mississippi State in the first half. ESPN’s Marty Smith defended Saban against what Smith called ‘unfair’ criticism.

“Any angst or any question that is directed negatively at Coach Saban, that is unfair at best,” Smith said on Wednesday’s “Marty and McGee,” “because, I can tell you, it’s okay to wonder ‘should Tua have been in the game?’ it’s not okay to persecute someone because Tua was in the game. This is gutting Saban. It’s gutting him. I’ve personally never seen him like this.”

“I’ve never seen him get this emotional,” Ryan McGee chimed in.

“To see the way he’s approaching this and the visceral hurt he is obviously feeling because Tua was in the game… The response toward Saban, to me, is unfair,” Smith added.

In the days following Tagovailoa’s injury, Saban has discussed how the quarterback has manged to cheer him up when he has called to check on his player. Saban, infamously tech illiterate, even mentioned FaceTiming with Tagovailoa on Wednesday.

The full clip, as shared by the SEC Network can be seen below: