Alabama’s victory over Mississippi State last Saturday came with a huge cost — an almost incalculable cost, really. Losing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the season is a titanic blow to a team that has already had enough injuries to make any insurance company sweat.
Any hopes for a College Football Playoff spot, Heisman dreams, No. 1 draft picks or even beating Auburn seem to have faded away. At this point, Western Carolina may even be licking its chops.
Never before has a two-minute drill turned into what will be a lifetime of “What ifs.” Never before has the hour-long ride from Starkville, Mississippi, to Tuscaloosa seemed like a slow boat trek to Australia. Never before has a 38-7 win felt like such a crippling defeat.
Football can be a dangerous sport. Players get hurt all of the time. But Tagovailoa isn’t just any player. Even with his injury history, Tagovailoa is undoubtedly the greatest quarterback in Alabama history and one of the more deadly-accurate QBs in all of football. He is a charismatic, friendly, fun-loving wunderkind whose play will be missed.
How fitting his last pass in Bryant Denney Stadium was a long, perfectly placed touchdown to Devonta Smith; it was the same play that began Tua’s legend in the Georgia Dome three years ago.
Meanwhile, it seems completely unfair Tagovailoa’s college career ends on the turf of Davis Wade Stadium, but — barring a total surprise — the dynamic quarterback’s time as Bama’s starter will end just that way as it seems like a foregone conclusion he will ultimately decide to enter the NFL Draft despite the recent hip issue.
Whatever Tagovailoa’s future holds, I sincerely hope it includes a huge, life-altering pro football contract. He’s worked too hard and is way too talented not to be rewarded financially. He deserves it and then some.
What about the current Alabama team now? How will the young Tide react with its fearless leader now injured on the sidelines? Frankly, it’s hard to know what direction this squad will go in. There are just too many unknowns. Who will mature quickly, become a new leader and rally the troops? Your guess is as good as mine.
Hopefully, though, the remaining players can take inspiration and motivation in knowing just two seasons ago, a then-true freshman quarterback came off the bench in an incredibly adverse situation and guided his teammates to a national title.