Jalen Hurts is a very good college football quarterback. Since becoming the starting quarterback at the University of Alabama, Hurts has won and won often. When you’re the starting quarterback at Alabama, that’s the expectation -- to win a lot of games and a lot of national championships. When you commit to be the quarterback for Nick Saban’s team in Tuscaloosa you know what you’re getting into. You’re going into a situation where you know you’re going to win a lot of football games, you know you’re never going to be the center of attention because the team has five-star guys everywhere, and you know that you’re job is never really secure even if you are 25-2 as the starter for the Crimson Tide.
It’s not fair, but fans of Alabama will never forget Tua Tagovailoa flipped the script for the Crimson Tide in the National Championship game and stepped on the Georgia Bulldogs’ face with a hobnail boot. Hurts struggled and the offense was stagnant, so Saban and his thirty-seven offensive analysts adjusted. They gave Tagovailoa the keys and even Dom Toretto was amazed at what followed. Not only did Tagovailoa produce the most memorable moment for the Crimson Tide, sports analysts immediately started putting him in the Heisman conversation for the 2018-19 college football season. People are excited to watch an Alabama quarterback for the first time in what feels like forever. Tagovailoa is no Greg McElroy, A.J. McCarron, Blake Sims, John Parker Wilson, Brodie Croyle, even Hurts, he’s something else entirely. Saban finally has a quarterback that will make their 56-0 blowouts against the Vanderbilts of the world must-see television because this kid is a left-handed, flame-throwing assassin and Alabama never plays this kind of quarterback.
So where does that leave Hurts? What can he do? Is there a chance he could really win the quarterback job away from Tagovailoa this summer? Is there really a chance that fans won’t be pushing for Tua Time every time Hurts makes a mistake? Where is the fun in that? Fair or not, it’s best for Jalen Hurts and Alabama to break up, amicably. That means, of course, Saban allowing his 25-2 starter to transfer anywhere he wants. (Resist your dick-ish instincts, Saban. Don’t Maurice Smith the kid.)
Hurts should have options -- he could join up with Jimbo Fisher in College Station, he could join up with Auburn to replace Jarrett Stidham after he enters the NFL Draft after this season (this will never ever happen, I know, but I can dream, right?), he could even join up with the Florida Gators and Dan Mulllen and instantly become the best quarterback they’ve had since -- checks notes, oh dear God -- Tim Tebow was in Gainesville.
Or he could go to Kentucky.
I’ll give you a few minutes to regain your composure, and then I’d like for you to allow me to explain why Jalen Hurts transferring to Mark Stoops’ team would actually be a really cool development.
College football, especially the SEC, needs more of these kinds of transfers. It’s frustrating to see Jake Fromm and Justin Fields on the same team, it’s frustrating to see Kyle Shurmur play quarterback, it’s frustrating to see Luke Del Rio start for the Florida Gators, it’s frustrating to see so much talent in Baton Rouge while also remembering Danny Freaking Etling is under-center, and it’s frustrating, in general, to watch the South Carolina Gamecocks try and do that whole offense thing. If Fields can’t beat out Fromm this summer, I’d love to see him transfer to LSU. If Matt Corral doesn’t win the Rebels’ starting QB job, let’s put him in a Commodore uniform next year. We watch sports to be entertained, and LSU offenses aren’t entertaining anyone.
What helps is that the quarterback situation at Kentucky is murky. What doesn’t help is their offensive philosophy under Eddie Gran -- a Jim Cheney disciple -- is more pro-style than anything else. At Alabama, we saw the difference between Hurts in Lane Kiffin’s scheme versus Brian Daboll’s, where he thrived with the former and survived with the latter. Still, Fields, a five-star, dual-threat quarterback is in Athens, so he obviously thinks he can make it work or he’d be at Ohio State or Texas or Florida State instead. Hurts and Gran wouldn’t look the best, but they would win games.
It’s taken a bit, but Stoops is winning in Lexington. In the last two seasons, the team has finished 7-6, which to most SEC schools would be considered a down year, but not for basketball school’s like Kentucky. At Alabama, Hurts is just another guy. At Kentucky, Hurts would be The Guy. As fans, we remember good quarterbacks at traditionally bad schools. Everyone remembers Jared Lorenzen and Tim Couch; nobody remembers Blake Sims or Greg McElroy. Everybody remembers Jay Cutler at Vanderbilt and Chase Daniel at Missouri; nobody remembers Jordan Jefferson at LSU or Casey Clausen at Tennessee. When a traditionally bad school has a good, exciting quarterback you’re happy for them. You think, “This is a nice thing,” or “Good for them,” or even “How the hell did this happen?”
Hurts would have nothing to prove because already proved himself by transferring to Kentucky. If he went 8-4 in Year 1 and third in the SEC East, fans are pumped. The expectation is not winning National Championships, it’s keep us competitive and fun against our rivals and other good programs. Hurts would do that. He would do that because the Wildcats are recruiting well under Saban, they know how to put together an effective run game, and did I mention they out-recruited Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Colorado and Stanford this year?
Why not Kentucky? Why not transfer to a school, play for a few seasons, win a lot of games for a program that does have the history of winning a lot of games, and be remembered by college football fans years after you’ve moved on to bigger and better things? Why not make Kentucky Football relevant again for a few seasons? Why not go somewhere where you don’t have to worry about the guy behind you and you can just focus on being awesome to finish out your collegiate career?
Seriously, why not Kentucky, Jalen Hurts?