Alabama football coach Nick Saban announced Monday that Jalen Milroe would return as the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback over Tyler Buchner and Ty Simpson.
Milroe did not play in Alabama’s 17-3 win at South Florida on Saturday, as Saban elected to start Buchner and play Simpson in relief. In re-evaluating the quarterback situation, Saban told reporters that Milroe “earned the opportunity” and that his “leadership” also was a key factor in the decision to restore him as the team’s starting signal-caller.
After Saban’s announcement, ESPN’s Paul Finebaum said the decision to reinstate Milroe as the starter was a perplexing choice.
“I’ve covered Nick Saban since the day he arrived in the SEC, and this is maybe the most puzzling statement I’ve ever heard him make,” Finebaum said on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Monday afternoon. “I don’t know how you pull a guy, who you had named your starter in the first game. He struggled in the second game against Texas. And then you name [Milroe] the backup. You don’t play the guy [against USF], and now he’s your best player, because he showed leadership—essentially being a cheerleader during the game. I mean I don’t know how you can unpack that one any better than what I’ve just said. And it still doesn’t make any sense.”
Milroe started in the Crimson Tide’s first two games, against Middle Tennessee and Texas, throwing for 449 yards with five touchdown passes and two interceptions. Although Milroe might not be the perfect option, Finebaum believes he gives Alabama the best chance of winning games over the remainder of this season.