How Nick Saban Helped Jalen Hurts Before Leaving Alabama

Nick Saban benched Jalen Hurts for Tua Tagovailoa during their time at Alabama despite Hurts going 26-2 as a starter, and the longtime coach had a simple message for Hurts going into that offseason: become a better passer.

Everyone knows the story by now, so I won't bore you with the long version. The short version?

Saban benched Hurts in the second half of the 2018 national title game against Georgia, Tua came in, led the Crimson Tide to another championship and instantly became the team's next starter.

During a sit-down with former NFL coach Bill Cowher on the 33rd Team podcast this week, Saban revealed the conversation between the two just days after that game.

"We had a conversation, and he wanted to graduate from Alabama, so he wasn't going to transfer until he graduated," Saban recalled. "I said, 'You need to work on becoming a better passer. You can't just make plays with your feet. So, this whole season I want you to focus and practice on reading coverages, being more instinctive with getting the ball out quick, anticipating throws and windows and understanding the passing game better.'

"And his diligence on doing that on a daily basis ... wouldn't take off in practice, he'd stand in the pocket and learn how to do that."

Nick Saban told Jalen Hurts forget Miami and Maryland, go to Oklahoma

Well, I reckon it turned out pretty good for Hurts.

The former 'Bama star learned how to pass it pretty damn well, and is now just one week from leading the Eagles into the Super Bowl.

Not a bad few years!

Saban went on to discuss Hurts' eventual transfer to Oklahoma the following year, which the two also talked about at length.

The message, Saban said, was once again simple: who has the best players?

"He said, 'Well, I feel comfortable going to Maryland or going to Miami, because Dan Enos was my coach, or I could go to Oklahoma,'" Saban said. "Well, I said, 'Who has the best players?' He wanted to go to Maryland and Miami, and I said you need to go to Oklahoma because they have the best players - the best coach to develop you as a quarterback and they have the best players - so that's going to enhance your chances of having success.

"He did that and had a great year, and I was worried about having to play them in the playoffs. I can't tell you how proud I am of seeing this guy in the Super Bowl."

PS: poor Miami. Those fans down there must HATE Nick Saban.

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Zach grew up in Florida, lives in Florida, and will never leave Florida ... for obvious reasons. He's a reigning fantasy football league champion, knows everything there is to know about NASCAR, and once passed out (briefly!) during a lap around Daytona. He swears they were going 200 mph even though they clearly were not.