If I'm a graduate transfer quarterback, why would I even consider Alabama?
I’m not sure I understand.
Yes, I understand that few people on this planet are better at selling 18-22 year-old kids than Nick Saban. Yes, I understand that Alabama has the best yearly chance to win a national championship, and being a part of that would be special. And yes, I understand that being able to call myself an “Alabama quarterback” for the rest of my life would be pretty cool.
But if I’m a graduate transfer quarterback, I don’t understand how Alabama is even an option.
In case you missed it, the guy who was 25-2 as a starter got benched for a true freshman in the national championship. They have a bit of a quarterback battle brewing, and I hate to say it, but a grad transfer isn’t even sniffing that battle. They’ll be asked to come in and be a body for their final year of college.
Um, why? Why would I choose to leave whatever my current college is to go to another school for one more year just to sit on the bench?
It makes no sense. Besides moving being the single worst thing that we as humans do regularly, what does Alabama really have to offer me? The chance that if two quarterbacks get injured, I could play in a game? Cool. Sign me up for that. That sounds like a fun way to spend my final year of college instead of playing one more year and building my résumé to try and play professionally.
Not really, though.
This all came to the forefront after Alabama whiffed on a quarterback in the 2018 class and then was reportedly in the market to land East Carolina quarterback Gardner Minshew. According to AL.com, Minshew is expected to visit Tuscaloosa soon.
Minshew, who was expected to by East Carolina’s starter in 2018, transferred to be closer to his home in Brandon, Miss. to deal with a family matter. Brandon is roughly 2.5 hours from Tuscaloosa, which is obviously a selling point for the Tide to get Minshew to fill out the bench.
If I’m Minshew, though, I’m wondering how I benefit from that situation. I don’t know the nature of Minshew’s family matter so I can’t speak to how much of his time it’ll consume, but I don’t think being a third-string quarterback at Alabama is a part-time job that suddenly opens up his schedule to travel 5 hours roundtrip whenever he wants.
I’m interested to know how Alabama is selling him or really any grad transfer quarterback. Is there a chance that they’re hinting at a position switch for Jalen Hurts? That wouldn’t be surprising. After all, it’s easier to sell a grad transfer on being a backup to a second-year player with basically one half of meaningful football under his belt.
Still, though. Think about the basic premise of being a grad transfer. Unless they’re in the minority that actually picks a program based on the grad program they want to pursue in hoping it’ll help their professional, non-football career, they’re going somewhere to play one more year. At the very least, they need to know that they can compete for a starting quarterback job.
So let’s get back to the ideal scenario for a grad transfer in Tuscaloosa. In a perfect world, a grad transfer believes that Hurts is changing positions. The grad transfer also believes that they are one Tua Tagovailoa injury away from playing for the defending national champs. In that scenario, the grad transfer would get the call over Hurts, who would still have 2 years of experience dominating SEC defenses.
Their chances of playing involve basically getting lucky twice. Good luck with that.
I hope that if Alabama does get a grad transfer that whoever it is understands how unlikely it is that they see the field. There’s a reason that Alabama couldn’t sign a 2018 quarterback. People are seeing right through this.
And to be clear, I’m not faulting Alabama for pursuing a grad transfer to add some depth. They have to. After Mac Jones was arrested for a DUI in November, obviously there were some trust issues there. And after watching what happened to Jimbo Fisher at Florida State last year, the last thing Saban wants is to watch his season go down the drain because of a quarterback injury.
One has to think that there is still a legitimate chance that Hurts changes positions and suddenly it’s just Jones backing up Tagovailoa. If that reality presents itself, Saban would be foolish not to be better prepared for it.
But this is far from a typical sell for him. If it were, Alabama would be 5 scholarship quarterbacks deep. At the very least, they would’ve had a grad transfer enrolled already.
If Saban can somehow convince someone to spend their last year of eligibility to wear one of those highlighter-colored hats and give signals from the sidelines every Saturday, I’ll tip my cap to him.
That doesn’t mean I’ll understand it.