What’s the difference between former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson and current Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa?
Well, for starters, Wilson never thought about bailing on the Crimson Tide if he didn’t receive playing time as a sophomore. Tagovailoa admitted that he would have transferred from Alabama after his freshman season had he not played in the national title game against Georgia, according to a recent report from Hawaii News Now’s Taryn Hatcher.
“Even throughout my football season, I wasn’t the starter,” Tagovailoa said. “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.”
It confirmed what many, such after former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, had speculated about Tagovailoa’s relationship with the program prior to his ascension to hero status after leading the team to a comeback victory in the College Football Playoff national title game.
So what should Alabama fans make of the comments from their Hawaiian quarterback?
During his weekly interview with WJOX-FM’s The RoundTable on Friday morning, Wilson cautioned fans that they couldn’t be too mad at either Tagovailoa or last year’s starter Jalen Hurts for considering transfers.
“Look, we can’t be too upset at quarterbacks when they transfer because we just had a quarterback in Jacob Coker who transferred from Florida State and ended up winning a national championship,” Wilson said. “So, as an Alabama fan, we’ve got to be open to it.”
But that doesn’t mean he thinks it’s right.
“I think this is just the state of the game, right? Definitely things have changed,” Wilson conceded. “If guys are going to pick up and leave, it’s their prerogative. It’s just that it’s a team sport. And growing up playing football it’s about the team when you’re out there doing spring training and all of this stuff. It’s just that we’re moving away from the game we grew up with. I don’t hate them for doing it, it’s just the times have changed.
“The Tua story, to me, I don’t think was shocking. It definitely came out last year as we heard some things from his camp about leaving. It’s just the way the college football game is right now, and it’s going to be like that until we either change the rules or we’ll just have to continue to accept it.”
Wilson faced his own circumstances of adversity as he first sat behind former starting quarterback Brodie Croyle and then had to earn his way into the lineup as his replacement.
“When I was backing up Brodie, I was wanting to get out there also,” Wilson said. “But, for me, there was a guy out there ahead of me and I had to go out there and beat him out, right? I think he was two years ahead of me, and I just had to go out there and win a job. Look, maybe Tua has still got a chance to win the job. It’s open competition, and I think anywhere in the SEC they’re trying to put the best guy on the field. It’s all about winning ballgames.”
For those Crimson Tide fans straining their brains trying to remember, Marc Guillon was the senior quarterback that Wilson had to beat out as Croyle’s replacement for the 2006 season.
While Wilson may not be a fan of bailing on your teammates, he does concede that quarterbacks have special circumstances when considering transfer as compared to some other positions on the field.
“It definitely is a different ball game at quarterback because you’re only playing one quarterback,” Wilson explained. “If you’re a running back, you can be third on the depth chart and still get five or six carries a game. I definitely wasn’t taking shots at Tua, but Jalen had a pretty good freshman year [before Tagovailoa arrived in Tuscaloosa], so you would expect that he’s going to continue that, right?
“I think Georgia is in a very similar situation with their quarterbacks. They’re getting the No. 1 quarterback in the country every year, it seems like. There’s going to be unhappy people on the depth chart. I go back and look at a guy like [former New England Patriots quarterback] Matt Cassel who never started a game for USC and sat behind an All-American in Carson Palmer, and I’m pretty sure after 12 year or whatever it’s been Matt Cassel is still in the [NFL]. You don’t have to be the starter [in college] to get to [the NFL].”
You can listen to Wilson’s entire interview with WJOX-FM here: