January 09, 2018
By: Meghan Caffrey

Coffee. That is the only answer this morning if you were like me and stayed up into overtime to watch true freshman Tua Tagovailoa lead Alabama to their 11th National Championship in program history. 

Nick Saban made the decision at the half to put in his backup quarterback, because he knew he needed to put him in the game in order to beat the Bulldogs. And Tagovailoa certainly delivered. He came in and threw three touchdown passes, erasing a 13-point deficit, and leading the Tide to the 26-23 overtime victory with a 42-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith.

I have to be honest with you. I thought Georgia had it. I really did. And I was excited about it… Jake Fromm, the true freshman quarterback, Kirby Smart, one of Saban’s former assistants, beating the big boys. It was a pretty neat story line, and I was into it. But then Tagovailoa comes in and is a total game changer in the most exciting of ways.

One of my biggest takeaways from this thriller, however, was one post-game interview in particular. ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi spoke with Alabama’s quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was replaced at the half for Tagovailoa, and the sophomore could not have demonstrated more poise and class. “He was going to step in and do his thing,” Hurts told Rinaldi when he learned that Tagovailoa was going to take over in the second half. He spoke highly of his freshman peer, and it was absolutely genuine. And that, is the mark of a true champion.