On a night when Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough were bottled up by the Georgia defense for a combined 40 yards on 10 carries, Alabama had to turn to another freshman to inject some life into the stagnant offense.
That something turned out to be one of Saban's smartest decisions, a gutsy call that only Saban could seemingly pull off.
Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban won his fifth national title with Alabama last night, and this one will be remembered for his bold decision to replace starting quarterback Jalen Hurts with a freshman southpaw named Tua Tagovailoa, who had only seen action in the regular season when the Tide were way ahead in a game, with nothing on the line, so he was thrust pretty quickly into the spotlight of a nationally televised championship game played in front of more than 75,000 fans in Atlanta when Saban chose to roll the dice.
Tagovailoa was named offensive MVP for the College Football Playoff National Championship after going 14-of-24 for 166 yards and three touchdowns, all in the second half. Five titles in ten seasons.Wow! Give head coach Nick Saban credit, after all Alabama was 25-2 with Hurts as the starter.
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Jesse Jackson says the halftime song at the College Football Championship game should be "We Shall Overcome". The group plans to "take a knee" there at 6:30 p.m. "People need to vote with their feet in the street".
Finally, at the the U.S. Cross-Country National Championships in Anchorage, Alaska, former University of Vermont skier Caitlin Patterson raced to her fourth national title, completing the sweep with a come-from-behind win in the women's classic sprint final.
But to Saban, Alabama's 66-year-old stoic mastermind, the wins and the accolades and the recognition are all secondary. In addition, they must possess the leadership skills, confidence and poise to handle high-pressure moments when the game is on the line.
"It feels really good, you know, it's a blessing", he said. "It's not just about winning the championship".
"Don't waste a failing", Saban said.
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Jake Fromm was committed to Alabama, and the story goes that Jake Fromm goes to Georgia after Kirby leaves, but we knew at the time we were probably getting Tua.
You've seen the play, but have you watched Tua Tagovailoa's 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith as it is called in Spanish? Each touchdown played a pivotal role in the Crimson Tide's comeback. He had played in eight games this season.
Then it was the game-tying touchdown to Calvin Ridley, a Monarch High alumnus, with 3:49 left in regulation. Joining Smith in the end zone was fellow freshman Henry Ruggs III who caught Tagovailoa's six-yard pass in the third quarter to get Alabama on the board and with some much-needed momentum.
Hurts did not sulk on the sideline and Saban said he was an asset to Tagovailoa during the game.
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