Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said Thursday that he would have transferred from Alabama if he didn’t play against Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Not only did Tagovailoa take over for struggling starter Jalen Hurts to start the second half, but his 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith on the second possession of overtime gave the Crimson Tide a 26-23 win and the championship.
Tagovailoa reflected on his thought process at the time Thursday when speaking at his former intermediate school in Ewa Beach, Hawaii.
“Even throughout my football season, I wasn’t the starter,” Tagovailoa told the students, according to Hawaii News Now. “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.”
The day after the championship game, former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin said 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, and played well in the game.
“Because Tua thought that he should be the starting quarterback and had outperformed (Hurts) in practice and coach (Nick Saban) never gave him an opportunity,” Kiffin said.
Tagovailoa’s thoughts leading up to the championship game weren’t new; he told the students he had first considered transferring earlier in the season.
“I called my dad and asked him if my offer to the University of Southern California was still available,” Tagovailoa told the students. “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.”
Tagovailoa told the seventh and eighth graders his initial query about transferring wasn’t well received by his parents, who told him he had to push through, according to Hawaii News Now.