Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa revealed Thursday he would have left the program if he hadn't played in the second half of January's national title game against the Georgia Bulldogs.
"I wanted to leave the school," Tagovailoa told a group of seventh and eighth graders in Hawaii, according to Hawaii News Now's Taryn Hatcher. "So I told myself if I didn't play in the last game, which was the national championship game, I would transfer out. If I gave in, I don't think I would have seen the end blessing of where I am now."
Tagovailoa also told the assembled students that he spoke to his father earlier during his freshman season about possibly transferring to USC.
"I called my dad and asked him if my offer to the University of Southern California was still available," he said "I wanted to leave. I told my dad I wanted to go to a school where I thought it'd be easier for me and wouldn't challenge me so much."
Now, all that feels like ancient history.
Tagovailoa relieved Jalen Hurts to start the second half of the national title game, and he led Alabama back from a 13-0 halftime deficit to capture a stunning 26-23 overtime win.
All told, the true freshman completed 14-of-24 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns as the Crimson Tide captured their 17th national championship.
Understandably, that performance has put Tagovailoa in the driver's seat to be under center when the Tide open their season against Louisville on Sept. 1.
Hurts, meanwhile, is facing the prospect of an uncertain future if he's unable to make a push and hang onto the job he's claimed since 2016.
"I told Jalen, you f--ked up, you opened the door and put yourself in this situation," Jalen's father, Averion, told Bleacher Report's Matt Hayes. "Now it's up to you to dig yourself out."