Tua Tagovailoa led Alabama to a 13-point comeback to secure another national title for the Crimson Tide. And like almost every college football star, there was a point in time where it seemed Tagovailoa was headed elsewhere.
It’s well known that Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm was at one point a Crimson Tide commitment. But early on in Tagovailoa’s recruitment, it seemed likely that he was headed to another school. It was USC, to play for Steve Sarkisian. At least, that’s according to former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.
“A lot of people will tell you that Tua had been silently committed to USC back then when [Sarkisian] was there, so this thing is really intertwined,” Kiffin told ESPN’s Tom VanHareen.
All that changed when Sarkisian was fired in October 2015. The coaching changes that followed gave Alabama a chance to get into his recruitment. Then, in December of that same year, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart left to take the Georgia job. A few months later, Fromm flipped his commitment to Georgia.
There was also a point in time when Tagovailoa wanted to go to Oregon, due in part to his relationship with Marcus Mariota. But Ducks coach Mark Helfrich never offered early.
In May 2016, Tagovailoa publicly committed to Alabama, a pledge he stuck with. Sarkisian, who also served as an Alabama analyst during the 2016 season, was promoted to offensive coordinator at Alabama after Kiffin left for the FAU job. But that was short- lived, as Sarkisian left to become the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator. He was replaced by Brian Daboll.
“Sarkisian was the only head coach — when he was at USC — that flew to Hawaii to watch Tua throw and on the spot said, ‘we want to offer you,’ ” Galu Tagovailoa, Tua’s father told SEC Country’s Chris Kirschner in December 2016. “We went up to the camp they had at USC, and Sarkisian was just blown away by Tua. We’ve built a really good relationship with him.
Tagovailoa was 14-for-24 passing in the National Championship Game against Georgia, and also threw 3 touchdown passes. Alabama has yet to officially name a replacement for Daboll at offensive coordinator, but reports indicate that Mike Locksley will take over. And whether he go with Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts, the Alabama offense will be as good as ever in 2018.
The Crimson Tide open the 2018 season against Louisville on Sept. 1.