Much of the time leading up to Super Bowl 52 was spent making comparisons between Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots dynasty and the one Alabama fans are enjoying under the direction of fomer Belichick assistant Nick Saban.
But on the morning after Philadelphia took down the Patriots 41-33 in Minnesota, SEC Network analyst Paul Finebaum made an interesting connection between the Eagles and Crimson Tide during his weekly appearance on WJOX-FM in Birmingham.
Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles replaced injured starter Carson Wentz to lead Philadelphia to its first Super Bowl title. Alabama backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa replaced starting quarterback Jalen Hurts at halftime of the national championship game to lead the Crimson Tide to a come-from-behind victory against Georgia.
Both teams champions. Both teams now face serious questions about what they do with their quarterback positions moving forward.
“It seems like we were just having this conversation four weeks ago about another team who did this in college,” Finebaum said in reference to the championship quarterback controversy at Alabama. “I think it just goes to show that absolutes are just not a part of sports anymore.”
The Wentz-Foles debate is different than Alabama’s quarterback situation in a few ways, most notably that Foles’ opportunity came as a result of Wentz tearing his ACL late in the NFL regular season.
“It’s a delicate situation,” Finebaum explained. “I would be hesitant to get rid of Carson Wentz that quickly. I know Foles had two games that will ensure that he never has to buy a drink in South Philly again, but I’m not sure I’m ready to make that call based on the last couple of weeks even though it was in the biggest games that Philadelphia has seen in 50 years.”
Those are words that Alabama fans should take to heart. While the Crimson Tide is not in the position to consider a trade like the Eagles may be at the professional level, there is the threat of a potential transfer to carve out assured playing time for both Hurts and Tagovailoa.
Former Alabama quarterback Jay Barker, who co-hosts The Opening Drive, made the observation of how Wentz was there to support Foles right there through it all, much in the same way that Hurts became Tagovailoa’s biggest supporter and cheerleader in the face of being benched at halftime of the title game.
Was that the product of a similar championship culture in both locker rooms?
“I think we’ve seen this, Jay, and you understand this better than I do or a lot of the people listening, but quarterbacks work in tandem,” Finebaum responded. “The goal is to start, of course, but it is most important to get the team ready. And I think that’s what you have to do. You see so many other instances, especially in pro football, where players are vocal more than they are in college or any other sport. It is remarkable. And for young people listening, it’s what are sports are really supposed to be about.”
It will be interesting to see how Saban tries to work things out with his two talented quarterbacks moving forward. Hurts enjoyed an incredible run to back-to-back national title game appearances during his first two seasons at Alabama, but the talented left arm of Tagovailoa was on full display as he claimed a national title trophy in a way Hurts was not able to do in two cracks at starting the College Football Playoff championship game.
You can listen to Paul Finebaum’s entire interview with WJOX-FM here: