Roger Staubach vs. Craig Morton for the Dallas Cowboys.
Joe Montana vs. Steve Young for the San Francisco 49ers.
The old adage that ‘if you have two quarterbacks you have zero quarterbacks.’ One has to win the battle. One has to play, the other has to sit. It is the very nature of the most important position in all of sports, the quarterback.
Tom Brady vs. Drew Henson for the Michigan Wolverines.
Braxton Miller vs. J.T. Barrett vs. Cardale Jones for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
At the college level that used to mean you had to sit and watch the guy who beat you play, hoping, for better or worse, you got a second chance.
Tom Brady vs. Drew Bledsoe for the New England Patriots.
Philip Rivers vs. Drew Brees for the San Diego Chargers.
How do you support the guy who took your job? When your team saw success under your lead no less.
Trevor Lawrence vs. Kelly Bryant for the Clemson Tigers.
You could leave for greener pastures. Create a new opportunity with a new team.
Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
You could stay. Jalen Hurts did.
When Tua Tagovailoa came to the University of Alabama as the number one dual-threat quarterback in the nation, Hurts did not have to question his job status. He had just led the Tide on a National Championship runner-up season. He threw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns and added 954 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. All of this as a freshman.
His sophomore campaign started strong but faltered toward the end. Alabama lost the Iron Bowl at Auburn and wiggled into the playoffs. After overcoming Clemson, Hurts and the Tide found themselves trailing the Georgia Bulldogs, in Atlanta, in the biggest game of the year.
Head Coach Nick Saban did the unthinkable by sitting his 26-2 starter in favor of his true freshman from Hawai’i at the half. 2nd and 26. The rest is history.
Tagovailoa then led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated season of historic proportions. His Heisman Trophy-worthy numbers have fans clambering that Tua is the greatest quarterback to ever set foot on campus. All while Jalen Hurts stood on the sideline, getting 4th quarter reps when he could and receiving huge ovations from Alabama fans each time he entered a game.
A new redshirt-transfer rule did not deter Jalen Hurts’ decision to stay when others took advantage.
Kelly Bryant left Clemson after he led the Tigers to the playoffs as a freshman last year. Trevor Lawrence took over and still has the Tigers undefeated with a playoff matchup against Notre Dame.
But in Nebraska, the redshirt-transfer rule ruined Scott Frost’s homecoming as their new head coach. Freshman Tristan Gebbia left the program after Adrian Martinez won the job. When Martinez went down with an injury, the Cornhuskers had to turn to Andrew Bunch, a walk-on junior college transfer. Nebraska finished the season with a 4-8 record, ineligible to play in a bowl game.
This was not an easy process for Hurts, as he admitted some personal details to ESPN during the College Football Playoff Selection Show on Monday.
“I’m in the hotel room with my parents, my brother and sister, and I’m in my mom and dad’s arms crying and I look up to my dad and say ‘What are we going to do now?’ He looked me in the eyes and said ‘we’re going to fight it.’ So I’ve been fighting for a year, competing and keeping faith,” Hurts said.
Saturday, Alabama met the Georgia Bulldogs once again, this time for the SEC Championship. Tagovailoa struggled mightily. When Tua went down with an injury, it was Jalen’s chance at redemption. He took full advantage, leading his team to the most improbable victory the country had seen since last January.
However, the lasting image of this game won’t be Hurts powering into the endzone for the game-winning score. It will be Tua and Jalen embracing on the sideline afterward.
Football is the ultimate team sport. These two young men exemplify that in a way no duo ever has.
Both will undoubtedly go down as legends at the university. Their collective performances are unmatched by any duo to ever play at a school at the same time.
- Their combined win-loss record is 39-2.
- They have collectively thrown for 9,605 yards and 96 touchdowns to just 18 interceptions.
- They have rushed for 2,299 yards and 30 touchdowns.
- Tagovailoa is a finalist for the following awards this year: Maxwell, O’Brien, Walter Camp, Manning and (in all likelihood) the Heisman.
- Hurts is a former SEC Freshman and Offensive Player of the Year.
- Both are SEC Champions, Hurts twice.
- Both are National Champions.
Both are working together to bring that last award home for the second straight year. A playoff matchup with Oklahoma stands in the way of a fourth straight National Championship appearance.
Above all else, the character to play for the entire team and to support one another in achieving their individual goals is incomparable.
Following a historic moment, not only in sports but in life in general, we will all remember the brotherhood surrounding these two fierce competitors, Tua and Jalen.
(Photo courtesy of Hannah Saad and The Crimson White)