Love him or loathe him, you have to hand it to Lane Kiffin. He absolutely nailed this one.
A short time after Alabama won the 2017 national championship, with true freshman Tua Tagovailoa riding to the second-half rescue, Kiffin claimed during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show that “people that really know what’s going on would tell you that Tua was leaving” if he hadn’t played against Georgia. Patrick asked for clarification as to Kiffin’s assertion that the quarterback was set to transfer if he had remained on the sidelines during that game.
“No doubt,” the former Crimson Tide offensive coordinator, who helped recruit the Hawaii native to Tuscaloosa, flatly stated.
Thursday, during an appearance at his old junior high school, Tagovailoa left no doubt that post-title game Kiffin’s claims were absolutely correct. From HawaiiNewsNow.com:
Even throughout my football season, I wasn’t the starter,” Tagovailoa continued. “I wanted to leave the school. So I told myself if I didn’t play in the last game, which was the national championship game, I would transfer out. If I gave in, I don’t think I would have seen the end blessing of where I am now.
Tagovailoa also confirmed that his frustration with his very limited role during his first season with the Crimson Tide stretched back much further than the title game. In fact, he acknowledged to the group of students that he had one school in particular in mind if he did leave while also making the astonishing admission that he was looking at that situation as “easier” and not as much of a challenge.
I called my dad and asked him if my offer to the University of Southern California was still available,” Tagovailoa told the crowd of seventh and eighth graders. “I wanted to leave. I told my dad I wanted to go to a school where I thought it’d be easier for me and wouldn’t challenge me so much.”
The former Crusader went on to tell the students that this particular conversation with his father took place early in his time in Tuscaloosa – and that it actually landed him in hot water with his family.
He said his parents told him he had to push through, and he knew they were right.
Given how the national championship game played out, and despite a spring essentially wiped out by injury, Tagovailoa is now widely viewed as the favorite to claim the starting job entering summer camp. So much so, in fact, that the man who kept him on the sidelines for most of the 2017 season, true junior Jalen Hurts, is now considered a prime candidate for transfer at some point before the 2018 season kicks off.