Nick Saban reflects on what made him insert Tua Tagovailoa into 2018 national championship
Nick Saban has made plenty of great decisions over the years during his time as Alabama coach. But his greatest may have come in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
For those who need a refresher, the Crimson Tide were losing to Georgia, 13-0, at halftime. Their offense needed a boost. So Saban pulled quarterback Jalen Hurts, who had been the starter all season, in favor of the inexperienced Tua Tagovailoa, a true freshman at the time.
Tagovailoa went on to lead Alabama to a 26-23 overtime victory, throwing a game-winning touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith, and the rest is history.
Saban recently reflected on that decision during an interview for “A Football Life: Nick Saban,” which is airing on NFL Network on Friday at 9 p.m. ET. NFL Films shared a snippet in which Saban discussed that crucial moment in which he chose to put Tagovailoa into Alabama’s biggest game of the 2017 season.
“I just said, ‘We’ve got great skill guys on offense and we’re not utilizing them at all,'” Saban recalled. “‘If we’re going to have a chance to win this game, we need to give this guy a chance.’ …
“It wasn’t like an emotional, in-the-moment decision. It was calculated based on a progression through the season and an improvement of a young player, knowing his skill set vs. what we needed to do to win the game.”
How Nick Saban's unique audible in the 2018 National Championship game led @AlabamaFTBL to another title.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) September 15, 2021
If Saban hadn’t pulled Hurts and inserted Tagovailoa, it’s possible that Alabama would have 1 less national title during the Saban era. But that’s why the Crimson Tide head coach is one of the all-time greats.