Former Alabama QBs Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett felt misled by Nick Saban.
Bateman, now at Utah, and Barnett, now at Arizona State, explained to ESPN that they were both surprised by Saban’s tactics and the way he handled the QB battle in 2016. It should be noted that both QBs told the outlet that they have a lot of respect for Saban.
The miscommunication, they say, started right off the bat against USC. The Tide ended up steamrolling the Trojans 52-6 behind freshman Jalen Hurts’ four total touchdowns.
Barnett, however, was under the impression that he was “the guy” and that Hurts would see some different packages on offense, but he was really caught off guard when Hurts continued to trot back onto the field to lead the offense.
“According to him (Saban), I was their guy,” Barnett told ESPN. “Once Jalen went in, I was expecting it. But then he went out on the next series, the next series and the next series. I don’t know if everything was communicated correctly.”
Bateman, like Barnett, felt misled, and he said he knew immediately he didn’t want to be a part of it.
“Long story short, I was just as surprised as everyone else,” Bateman said. “It wasn’t really how it was told to me it was going to be.
“How things were communicated, there was a lack of communication. I knew I didn’t want to be involved with that anymore, but fortunately that was the first game of the season — 12, 13 more to go. I put my head down and battled through it. I knew after that first game that I didn’t really want to be a part of it anymore.”
Playing QB — or any position — at a big university should come with a disclaimer: feelings are going to get hurt and things may not play out like players had hoped.
If they’re upset with Saban and the way he handled the QB battle, that’s fine. But they’re not the first players and certainly won’t be the last to feel that way. Do they have a point? One could argue they didn’t get a fair shot at the job, especially Barnett. Everyone knew the offense had a ceiling with Bateman under center.
But Saban is paid millions of dollars to put the best product on the field, and he obviously felt that Hurts was that guy — and Hurts pretty much proved him right as the conference’s top freshman and the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year. The Tide won the SEC Championship and played for the national championship under the freshman signal caller.
I’m sure Saban had a plan in place for Barnett and Bateman to be a part of it, along with Hurts, but actual games change plans. And Hurts changed Saban’s plans.