Jalen Hurts on 2018 national championship benching: ‘That day made me who I am’
Former University of Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts was featured in an ESPN exclusive sit-down interview with Tom Rinaldi on Saturday’s broadcast of “College GameDay,” with the now-Oklahoma star opening up about the latter portion of his Crimson Tide career.
Early in the segment, which lasted four minutes, Rinaldi asked the QB to describe “the journey” he has been on to get to this point — leading an undefeated Oklahoma team and sitting near the top of Heisman watch lists.
“Unprecedented and unique,” Hurts said.
“I take the rarity of this entire situation, the rarity of me being able to play and start for two prestigious universities — historically, probably two of the best in the country — how I handled adversity that was put in front of me,” he continued.
Hurts was benched at halftime of the Tide’s January 2018 national championship game against Georgia, with Tua Tagovailoa then leading a historic second-half comeback to see Bama win. Hurts also lost the permanent starting job to Tagovailoa for the following season, however Hurts did not sulk. In fact, he stayed with the team through the season’s conclusion, playing well in backup duties to close out blowouts and cheering his teammates on from the sidelines when his number wasn’t called.
Hurts’ leadership and character were widely praised last season, and how he conducted himself — and his decision to stay — paid off in a big way when the SEC Championship rolled around. This time, with an injured Tagovailoa unable to produce, Alabama head coach Nick Saban called on Hurts to turn the game around.
He delivered in a historic way, with a feel-good story for the ages getting tied up with a bow.
In the interview, Rinaldi asked Hurts what moment stands out to him the most from his Tuscaloosa days.
“You know, when have you ever seen a guy that only loses two games in two years as a starter, goes to two National Championships, all these awards as a true freshman, ends up losing his job — that’ll probably never happen again in the history of college football,” Hurts outlined. “And then him not transfer, kind of see it through, get an opportunity to kind of save the day in the end.”
“That doesn’t happen,” he reflected, smiling. “It’s like a ’30 for 30.’ It’s like a movie.”
Rinaldi then asked him about the second-half benching in the 2018 National Championship, specifically questioning Hurts on what his “first reaction” was when he was told Tagovailoa would be taking over the rest of that game.
“Gotta win the game,” Hurts responded. “One way or another. I’m always going to be a team guy. Coach — he made the decision that he made, and we were national champions. I’ll be able to say that for the rest of my life.”
Rinaldi interjected, “You smile about it as I bring that memory up. Why?”
Hurts stressed, “That day made me who I am. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Watch the full segment:
These days, it’s less about the journey for Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts and more about the destination 💪
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 19, 2019
Sean Ross is the editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn