Blake Barnett’s time at Alabama ended unceremoniously and he appears to blame Nick Saban as at least a reason why.
In an interview with ESPN.com, Barnett said he’s “not quite sure why” things didn’t work out for him with the Crimson Tide but he says a coach’s comments about his nerves in the team’s season opener against USC last September didn’t help.
“A lot of backlash that I received from (the USC game) was that I came out nervous,” Barnett said. “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.”
In that game, a 52-6 win over the Trojans, Barnett started and played the first two series before getting pulled in favor of true freshman Jalen Hurts. He later returned and threw a touchdown pass, but Hurts played the majority of the game and accounted for four total touchdowns.
At halftime, Saban told ESPN sideline reporter Sam Ponder that Barnett appeared to be nervous during the early part of the game.
Overall, Barnett saw playing time in three of Alabama’s first four games before leaving the team at the end of September. He then enrolled Palomar College, a junior college in his native Southern California, before committing to Arizona State in December.
Earlier this month, Barnett signed with the Sun Devils, where he will be immediately eligible to play despite his transfer.
Though Barnett’s name wasn’t mentioned, Saban seemed to criticize the quarterback on his weekly radio show on the same day his departure became official.
“It’s one of those things where I think the culture has changed a little bit,” Saban said. “I think there’s a certain pride people have in competition. There’s certain things that I was taught growing up about not quitting and seeing things through. I think if I would have come home and told my dad that I was going to quit the team, I think he would have kicked me out of the house. I don’t think I’d have a place to stay.”
Barnett, a former five-star recruit coming out of high school, will compete with junior Manny Wilkins for Arizona State’s starting quarterback job this season. Wilkins was the team’s starter last year when the Sun Devils went 5-7.
Former Alabama wide receivers coach Billy Napier will serve as Arizona State’s new offensive coordinator this season.
(You can follow Kevin Connell on Twitter @_KevinConnell)
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