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Alabama denied Jalen Hurts in CFP title game and it suffered greatly

Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

He was like a high school student-athlete on Monday night. 

His helmet was on, he stood beside his head coach, he yearned for an opportunity, and yet he was not provided a fighting chance. The once dread-headed assassin walked off the field in tears as a freshman, as he watched Dabo Swinney and Clemson hoist the 2017 College Football Playoff Trophy after defeating Alabama by a score of 35-31 in Tampa, Fla.  

A photo of the Tigers in jubilation was his screensaver for the entire offseason: a use of motivation for him to help the team get back to the big stage again and face Clemson. 

He dealt with so much turmoil prior to the 2018 season, and a lot of people wondered that with the rise of Tua Tagovailoa, why is he still involved with the University of Alabama?  

He kept his composure, stated his piece, remained with the program, and did everything to be a leader for a Nick Saban-coached team; however, Jalen Hurts did not come up in the minds of the coaching staff in the biggest game of the year and it may have cost them a championship. 

Before the confetti fell on Clemson and Swinney rejoice for his second national title, the Crimson Tide had a chance. It was trailing 31-16 at halftime: a 15-point deficit, but not insurmountable when one looks at the 13-point hole it faced in the 2018 CFP title game against Georgia in Atlanta.  

RELATED: Clemson dethrones Alabama, wins 2018 CFP National Championship

Was Alabama getting dominated soundly? Yes.  

Did it have any answers for Trevor Lawrence? No. 

Was there a lot of second half adjustments made? No. 

Nevertheless, Saban had no problems switching Hurts for Tagovailoa versus the Bulldogs after halftime.

The native Texan was struggling and the team needed a spark. Regardless of what happened, the 67-year-old was giving the then freshman phenom a chance to see what he could bring. Everyone knows how the story ended. Alabama was energized, Georgia looked confused, and Tagovailoa made the biggest play to give the Tide a 26-23 win in overtime.

The native Hawaiian got a chance to provide an impact when his team badly needed it, but the leader who turned down opportunities to possibly be a starting quarterback elsewhere got phased out against the school that he could have returned a huge pay back to.

This is the same Hurts that came off the bench in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game for 2018 and delivered Alabama to a 35-28 comeback win over Georgia, after it was trailing 28-14 in the second half. 

He provided a spark with his arm, completing seven of nine passes with one touchdown and turned in a 15-yard touchdown run that had Tide fans erupting at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Would he have made much of difference?  

It is the question many fans of Alabama football ask the morning after a rough night, but so much happens in college football and with that being said, Hurts probably could have. 

In a 44-16 beatdown, a multitude of seniors are hurt. 

For players like Damien Harris, Christian Miller, Ross Pierschbacher, Ronnie Clark and Mike Bernier among others, they have worn the crimson and white for a final time. The individual with the most questions, however, is Hurts.

While the blame game is being passed around on social media, this will eat at Saban for a long time. One of your marquee impact players and difference makers did not hit the field until it was too late, and people want answers.

He will have a monumental decision to make now, as the offseason begins for Hurts.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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