On Alabama football athletes and transfers, Tua and Antonio Alfano

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 31: Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide walks on the field prior to facing the Duke Blue Devils at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 31: Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide walks on the field prior to facing the Duke Blue Devils at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama football quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went on the Dan Patrick radio show Wednesday morning to discuss a myriad of topics. One thing stuck out to us, though.

Playing for the University of Alabama football team is not for everyone. It’s, in fact, for a very specific subset of athlete who has to operate under a microscope so sharp, walking oddly down the street can get you six inches of column space in the local newspaper.

This goes doubly for an Alabama football starting quarterback.

As far back as I can remember, there was nary a starting quarterback at Alabama who didn’t draw the ire of fans and journalists alike for the slightest of mistakes on Saturday.

In my time as a fan, Jay Barker, Freddie Kitchens, Andrew Zow, Tyler Watts, Brodie Croyle, John Parker Wilson, Greg McElroy, A.J. McCarron, Blake Sims, Jake Coker, Jalen Hurts and, yes, even Tua have all been subjected to the kind of scrutiny that would make you or I curl up into a ball on the bathroom floor.

They’ve dealt with it in their own way and continued to do (to varying degrees of success) what we all ask of them: win and look good doing it.

Tua, save for a not-so-good evening in Santa Clara, has done just that. He’s looked downright unstoppable at times. And the Tide faithful love him for it. He’s their all-timer at the position. No disrespect to Joe Willie or Bart Starr or “The Snake,” but Tua’s the Alpha and Omega of Alabama football QBs.

And when he appeared on the Dan Patrick radio show Wednesday morning, Patrick asked Tua a host of questions about Nick Saban and his sense of humor, public speaking, surfing (Tua clocked that stereotype right away) and, of course, the not-so-well-kept secret that Tua was planning on transferring out of Alabama if he didn’t start very soon for the Tide.

First off, while that last part makes Tua sound petulant, he explained it to Patrick in the following way after Patrick asked Tua about transferring to USC:

"“…it was really close, I think, because…I wanted my parents to see me play. My parents wanted to see me play and…just doing things for my parents, you know? Making my parents happy and proud was probably the biggest thing I wanted to do and I couldn’t do it on the sideline…”"

Given that there can be only one starting quarterback on a team, it makes all the sense in the world that Tua would want to leave if a struggling Jalen Hurts was to continue to be the starter for ‘Bama.

And in Tua’s case, the motivation runs deeper as a Samoan-American athlete. In Samoan culture, respect for one’s elders and, really, family is paramount. And if you’ve seen any stories about Tua’s family, you’ll know that Galu, Tua’s father, is, with absolution, the head of the Tagovailoas.

Most are aware that it was Galu Tagovailoa who made the decision that Tua would be coming to Tuscaloosa to play football, because Nick Saban’s program was going to be Tua’s clearest path to where he wanted to be.

And we’re all grateful for this. Tua was a Trojans fan growing up and L.A. seemed to be his dream destination before Lane Kiffin hopped aboard a plane and landed in Ewa Beach, HI to watch Tua throw. Kiffin, along with former Tide DC Tosh Lupoi did a fabulous job in convincing Tua and his family that Tuscaloosa is where he needed to be.

Tua’s family moved to Alabama from Hawaii and the rest, as they say, is history.

This begs the question, though: what if Tua did end up transferring to USC? And if this was against his parents’ wishes, what would the repercussions have been for Tua, someone who the law dictates is a legal adult?

Which brings us to a more recent storyline involving Alabama football’s top recruit in the 2019 class, Antonio Alfano. Less than two weeks ago, Alfano’s father went on Twitter to discuss why his son had stop attending classes and practice at the University of Alabama.

Frankie Alfano mentions that while he would prefer his son staying in Tuscaloosa, he recognizes that Antonio, all of 18 years, is an adult and that it would be his decision and his decision only if he decided to transfer.

Now, putting cultural mores aside, what can we glean from a high-profile athlete like Tua or Antonio Alfano or even Jalen Hurts who make a decision, which should ultimately be theirs, about their futures as athletes.

If Tua told his parents that he wanted to go to USC from the outset and did, how would that have affected his relationship with his parents, whom he obviously cares for deeply?

Is each case singular to the player or should we all give credence to the idea that, while life experiences are minimal for an 18-22 year old, they should maybe be able to make the decision they feel is best for them? Hell, if you’re a male citizen in this country you have to register for the draft within 30 days of your 18th birthday.

Shouldn’t it be blanketed enough that we give autonomy to a person making a decision about the school he would like to attend and the same person being old enough to be drafted into service?

That being said, I’m very happy Tua stayed in Tuscaloosa. I’m not sure if Galu was the reason or if they would’ve made the move to Los Angeles, but, as a fan, it would be hypocritical of me not to express my gratitude for the decisions Galu Tagovailoa made for his son.

Next. Tua is still learning. dark

I just hope for Tua and Antonio that the decisions they make going forward are ones they can live and find peace with. After all, they’re human beings like the rest of us no matter the size of the microscope.