With quarterback Blake Barnett looking to rebound after seeing his short career at Alabama not pan out the way it was initially expected, Barnett had a chance to reflect on his time at Alabama with the media as he opens spring with Arizona State.
“Things ended up the way they did,” said Barnett, who has been granted an exemption to be able to play for the Sun Devils this upcoming season. “To be honest, I’m not quite sure why. But I’m here now.”
Let’s cut straight to the chase. It’s because Jalen Hurts stepped in and dazzled when given an opportunity to lead Alabama’s offense. As Alabama was rolling their way to an undefeated regular season, SEC championship and third straight berth in the College Football Playoff, some took to arguing Hurts was worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration if Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (the eventual Heisman Trophy winner) dropped off down the stretch (which he did).
The story will go that Barnett did not play well in Alabama’s 2016 season opener against USC. Barnett completed five of six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, but Jalen Hurts took the game by storm with four total touchdowns. Criticisms of Barnett appearing to be nervous in AT&T Stadium ran wild, and Nick Saban did nothing to quiet that idea down. In fact, he may have poured the proverbial gasoline on the fire for talk about Barnett being nervous. Saban commented on the possible nervousness during his brief halftime interview during the game and later addressed the importance of “not quitting” following the announcement Barnett was transferring in late September. Barnett was not oblivious to the comments coming from Saban.
“A lot of backlash that I received from [the USC game] was that I came out nervous,” Barnett said, according to ESPN.com. “I think you could ask just about every teammate and they’d agree that I wasn’t. But a certain coach went out to the media and said that I was and so I got that negative reputation from it.”
We get it. Top players want to have a shot at playing a key role, and sometimes that means players not getting the time they believe they have earned can lead to some sour situations. Did Barnett quit on Alabama, or is he fair to evaluate all of his options to find the best possible fit for him that may lead to a better opportunity?