Hurts’ New Contract is Huge for Bama Football as Portal Opens
Saturday, the spring transfer portal window opened up. By 7 p.m. that day, 85 scholarship players had entered the portal. So far, Nick Saban's team hasn't seen anyone jump in the portal yet, and Jalen Hurts' massive new contract may just ensure that that doesn't change.
One of the biggest criticisms of the new transfer portal rules is that it gives kids an "easy" route to avoiding any amount of diversity. Don't like your spot on the depth chart? Hop in the portal. Don't get along with your coach? Hop in the portal. Didn't get the NIL deal you wanted? Guess what, you can hop in the portal!
Others have supported the rule, which arrived just before the allowing of NIL deals, vehemently insisting that players having as much agency in their collegiate careers as possible is more important than any negative impact it might have on college sports or on that individual player's career.
I think the truth lies somewhere in the between.
A little bit, or even a lot, of adversity is usually a good thing and has a positive long-term impact on a person's life. At some point in everyone's life, they're going to come up between a rock and a hard place. The younger you learn to handle that, the better off you will be as an adult, regardless of whether or not you go on to be a professional athlete.
Nobody has stuck it out through a tougher situation as a collegiate athlete in recent memory than Hurts, and now, he's the highest paid player in NFL history because of it.
As a freshman, Hurts took the Southeastern Conference by storm and was 26-2 as a starter by the time he led the Tide to a second national title game as a sophomore. Despite this, when his team fell behind 13-0 at halftime against Georgia, Saban benched Hurts in favor of Tua Tagovailoa. The rest of that game is college football legend.
The ensuing offseason, everyone expected Hurts to transfer, even at a time where players had to sit out a year if they did. He didn't. He put his nose to the grindstone and went to work, preparing for one of the most gawked over offseason quarterback battles of all time.
He lost that battle. Alabama's coaching staff, after everything Hurts had done for the Crimson Tide, decided that there was more upside to rolling Tagovailoa over Hurts because of his passing abilities. The coaching staff told Hurts exactly what he needed to work on, and he did so.
During that season of backing up Tagovailoa, Hurts was a consummate professional and the ultimate teammate. He consulted with Tagovailoa on the sidelines with regularity, acting more as an assistant coach than a backup quarterback. He stayed hyped for everything the guy who took his job accomplished on the field, and he always stayed ready to go in the game.
Ultimately, Hurts got his shining moment of redemption in the SEC Championship game and led the team to a victory over Georgia as a backup quarterback himself, completing one of the best stories college football has ever gotten to see play out.
Hurts has since said publicly that he felt the coaching staff at Alabama was the best staff to help him develop the parts of his game his game Saban told him needed work. It wasn't an easy pill to swallow, but he knew it was the best thing to do for his development as a player.
After a year of slinging the ball all over the yard in Lincoln Riley's system, Hurts made it to the NFL. After as many seasons in Philadelphia as he spent in Tuscaloosa he is now the highest paid football player of all time.
Five years. $255 million with $179 million guaranteed. A no-trade clause.
So, if you're on Alabama's roster right now and you just had a rough spring practice, or just got beat out for the spot on the depth chart you wanted, or maybe came up $15,000 short on your promised NIL deal, how can you possibly justify jumping in the transfer portal?
This is plainly a place where if you stay and put in the work, you will succeed and you will get your shot at the next level. To transfer out of the Alabama football program would be a recklessly misguided decision at this point.
Saban just got all the ammunition he needs to convince kids who are unhappy to stay, and he's going to use it to maintain the depth he lost so much of to the portal the last few seasons.