In Hurts' struggle, coach finds valuable lesson for young athletes

Jalen Hurts was benched at halftime of the 2018 National Championship game. (

On the brightest stages nothing is hidden. On Monday night, University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban made a decision to help his team win. The result was benching the quarterback who had led the Crimson Tide to back-to-back national championship appearances.

Mountain Brook High School's Chris Yeager knows the pain which comes with making this kind of decision: "It's absolutely the toughest thing in coaching is when you have to bench player. There's nothing tougher than that."

Yeager said it was after Jalen Hurts was benched that the real lesson of Monday night shined brightest. The sophomore quarterback could be seen encouraging teammates including his replacement, QB Tua Tagovailoa. The true freshman from Hawaii would go on to throw what could become the most famous pass in Alabama football history.

"That was a perfect way for that to be handled. That was a 10/10," said Yeager.

It meant so much to Yeager he shared it with some of his players Tuesday as an example of how to handle adversity. The high school coach says character can be taught but usually happens well before a young man steps onto the football field. "It doesn't come naturally. You know because as human beings we're all selfish, but I tell you I tip my hat to #1 is to their parents. That says more about the upbringing of those two young men."

Hurts' future at Alabama will likely be the source of speculation during the off-season. Tagovailoa appears poised to take over the starting job in Tuscaloosa. If that happens will Hurts transfer? For coaches like Yeager it's a question for another day. The answers found Monday night are more important.

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