Alabama Team News

ESPN’s Maria Taylor caught in crossfire of Nick Saban protecting Jalen Hurts

Nick Saban

In Monday’s weekly press conference, Nick Saban was asked about his comment made to ESPN’s Maria Taylor after the Tide’s win over Louisville.

In case you missed it, the exchange went like this:

On Sunday, multiple reports came out saying Saban had called Taylor to apologize.

On Monday, Saban opened up his press conference describing a situation in which he said he loved all of his players like his own kids and when one does better than the other, it doesn’t mean you want to vilify one in front of the other or anyone else. The takeaway here is that Saban is doing everything he can to protect Jalen Hurts from feeling like he doesn’t care about him.

We all saw the same thing on Saturday night: Tua Tagovailoa is clearly the better quarterback and as Saban announced later on in the press conference that Tua will start game two.

“I could have handled it in a better way,” Saban said of his exchange with Taylor. “I need to learn a better way to respond to that and I pray every Sunday that I never get angry, but it was a time and circumstance thing for me.

“I was a little bit upset by the way we finished the game. The penalties that we had. The mental errors that we had. So it was totally my responsibility and we apologized for it.”

While I might be in the minority of people who didn’t think Saban needed to apologize, he did so. I don’t fault Taylor for the question or Saban for the response. By now, everyone should be used to how Saban handles these types of situations. At the time, I just thought Saban was tired of the questions surrounding the quarterbacks.

After hearing him speak on Monday, the exchange with Taylor had deeper meaning.

Saban wasn’t just done with answering questions about his quarterbacks, he was angry because he doesn’t see the question the same as you and I do. The outcome of what we saw on Saturday night was bad enough. Tagovailoa ran away with the starting quarterback job and Saban knew it was coming. We just hadn’t seen it since January.

Saturday night was simply a reminder to everyone watching that Tua didn’t just beat Hurts in a position battle; it’s never been that close. Saban heard Hurts lash out about his treatment by the coaching staff during the start of camp and is taking a different approach in handling these situations.

I truly believe Saban cares deeply about Hurts and knows this isn’t an easy situation for a player who has lead this team to a 26-2 record the last two years. So, when Taylor asked the question, Saban felt like he had to protect Hurts in that moment.

What came out was a salty, albeit funny, response to question he has heard over 100 times in the month of August alone.

The lasting impact of Saban’s statements and the exchange with Taylor will be forgotten by next Saturday. What the exchange will do is stay fresh in the minds of high school football players who should see this as an example of how Saban sticks up for his players.

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