Nick Saban: ‘The QB Who Plays Saturday Is The QB For Saturday,’ Not Necessarily Next Saturday

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Alabama coach Nick Saban will not publicly name a starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide’s season opener against Middle Tennessee on Saturday (7:30 p.m., SEC Network).

We’ll all have to just watch and see who trots out there in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Therefore, this may be one of the most watched Middle Tennessee State games in history. It may be the most watched Alabama game against a directional school in history as well. Unless you count Auburn. Just kidding.

ABC’s “The Bachelor,” which will be entering its 28th season soon, may have met its match.

Who will be Alabama’s mystery quarterback? Bachelor No. 1, Bachelor No. 2 or Bachelor No. 3?

Nick Saban may or may not start the same quarterback next week against Texas that he starts on Saturday against Middle Tennessee. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

“I do think one thing that everybody is sort of going to be interested in with this whole quarterback situation,” Saban said on his radio show Thursday night. “The quarterback who plays on Saturday, um, that’s the quarterback for Saturday. And the life of a quarterback, any quarterback, depends on how they perform.”

Alabama QB Jalen Milroe Was The Favorite

Got it. So, there could be a different starting quarterback when No. 4 Alabama hosts No. 11 Texas on Saturday, Sept. 11 (7 p.m., ESPN).

Redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe of Katy, Texas, has been considered a favorite to start game one, but he has been slipping and never put his arms around the starting job. He has the most experience, though. Milroe (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) started against Texas A&M last season when Bryce Young was injured. He completed 12 of 19 passes for 111 yards with three touchdowns – 35, 29 and 10 yards – and an interception in a 24-20 win. He also rushed 17 times for 81 yards with a 33-yard jaunt.

On the season, Milroe completed 31 of 53 for 297 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions. He also played in four games in 2021, completing 3 of 7 for 41 yards and a touchdown and rushed 15 times for 57 yards. He is versatile, but he is no Bryce.

Bachelor No. 2 is redshirt freshman Ty Simpson (6-2, 203) of Martin, Tennessee. He played in four blowouts last season against Utah State (55-0), Louisiana-Monroe (63-7), Vanderbilt (55-3) and Austin Peay (34-0). He completed 4 of 5 passes for 35 yards, but he made a move this August.

“I think Ty made an improvement,” Saban said Wednesday at a press conference before his radio show. He particularly likes his disposition after something goes awry.

Nick Saban Looking For A Stoic QB

“I think one of the hardest things is to be outcome oriented and show your emotions when things don’t go exactly like you want them to,” Saban said. “And that’s one of the things that has helped all our quarterbacks, especially Ty.”

Bachelor No. 3 is a disappointment in some eyes. Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner (6-1, 215) is running with the third team. Some dubiously thought he would step right in as the starter because his offensive coordinator at Notre Dame – Tommy Rees – is Alabama’s new offensive coordinator. That has not happened.

Buchner won the starting job for the Irish last season, but sprained his non-throwing shoulder in his third start and was lost for the season. He completed 46 of 83 passes for 651 yards and three touchdowns with five interceptions. After the season, Wake Forest three-year starting quarterback Sam Hartman transferred to Notre Dame, and it was time for Buchner to go. He headed south after Milroe failed to take over the position in spring drills.


This makes one wonder why Alabama did not go after Hartman. He does hold the record for most career touchdown passes in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 110. He threw four more in Notre Dame’s 42-3 win over Navy last week, completing 19 of 23 for 251 yards.

“A guy has to understand the way he performs is really important,” Saban continued on his radio show about his starting quarterback – whoever that may be. “All three guys have made significant improvement. I’d like to play more than one guy in the game.”

Nick Saban Knows The Mystery Starter’s Identity

Saban has told one of the quarterbacks he will start.

“I told the guy that’s going to start the game that, ‘We want you to play well enough so we have an opportunity to play the other guys at the position, because that’s important for us.'”

Hmm. That’s a bit of a Catch 22 for the starter. If he plays really well really quickly, he’ll be out of there, thus improving the chances of one of his competitors having more time to outplay him.

“But whoever starts the game, it’s not their job in perpetuity (forever),” Saban said. “Because they have to perform well. Because they don’t have a lot of experience.”

A nation of television viewers awaits. Along with the dragging conference realignment story with the Atlantic Coast Conference, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s cheeseburger suspension and new Colorado coach Deion Sanders’ cowboy hat, the Alabama quarterback caper has been a top story of the college football preseason.

“I think we’re all interested in seeing how they all perform,” Saban said.

Meanwhile, in the undercard, Middle Tennessee is a 40-point underdog. That part’s not going to attract viewers.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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