TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama‘s Tua Tagovailoa had successful surgery on his right hip Monday morning in Houston, and Tide coach Nick Saban said he wasn’t second-guessing his decision to play his star quarterback at the end of the first half in Saturday’s 38-7 victory over Mississippi State.
Tagovailoa dislocated his hip, ending his season and possibly his college career. Sources confirmed to ESPN that he also suffered a posterior wall fracture.
“Tua’s prognosis is excellent, and we expect him to make a full recovery,” Alabama orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lyle Cain said in a statement. “He will return to Tuscaloosa in the next several days to begin his rehab.”
Tagovailoa was injured with three minutes remaining before halftime in Saturday’s game, when he was brought down by two Bulldogs defenders while rolling to his left on a third-down play. Tagovailoa suffered a bloody nose and couldn’t put pressure on his right leg when he was helped up by athletic trainers. He was carted off the field and eventually airlifted back to Birmingham for CAT scans and MRIs.
Cain told ESPN’s Laura Rutledge that Tagovailoa will be on a partial weight-bearing recovery plan for six weeks and will be rehabbing daily in Tuscaloosa. In three months he will be able to begin athletic activity again, and by the spring should be ready to begin throwing.
The hip wasn’t the only injury Tagovailoa suffered on the hit. He was concussed and broke his nose, which doctors also repaired Monday.
He was hurt when he Tide had a 35-7 lead.
“Not all all,” Saban said, when asked whether he regretted leaving his quarterback in the game. “The guy was healthy. He didn’t have a problem with his ankle, and it certainly didn’t look like he had a problem with his ankle, which would have been the only reason not to play him in the game. It’s an SEC game. Typically, you play the best players on your team at every position. So why wouldn’t you play him? If I knew he was going to get hurt, I wouldn’t have played him.”
The surgery was the second this season for Tagovailoa. He had surgery on his right ankle Oct. 20, a day after he was injured in the Crimson Tide’s 35-13 victory over Tennessee.
“I’m not second-guessing the fact I played him,” Saban said. “What if we wouldn’t have played him and not won the game? How can you assume that you would win a game by not playing the best players? I never, ever have done that and don’t intend to do that in the future. That’s the only way you can be fair to players, and that’s the only way that you can be fair to the team.
“Tua absolutely wanted to play in the game, and he did everything he could to play in the game and get ready to play in the game, and he’s our No. 1 quarterback,” Saban continued. “If [Green Bay Packers quarterback] Aaron Rodgers was able to play in the game, would they not play him in the game? I don’t know how else to do it.”
Saban said he was initially told on the sideline that Tagovailoa had a bloody nose. But when Tagovailoa didn’t get up for a few minutes, Saban asked what was wrong with him, and someone replied that Tagovailoa hurt his hip. Saban was told at halftime that his hip was dislocated.
“I feel bad, I’m hurting,” Saban said. “I called him Saturday night to cheer him up, and he cheers me up. I called him Sunday night to cheer him up, and he cheers me up. This is a guy that has great spirit. … I don’t think there’s any way that any of us can say that we won’t miss that spirit that he has.”
Saban said Tagovailoa told him on Sunday night that he couldn’t wait to get back to Tuscaloosa to watch Saturday’s game against FCS foe Western Carolina. Redshirt sophomore Mac Jones is expected to start against the Catamounts.
While Saban said it’s too early and not the appropriate time to speculate about Tagovailoa’s future, he might have played his last game for the Crimson Tide. He was a projected top-10 pick in next spring’s NFL draft before the injury.
Saban said former Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley dislocated his hip (it wasn’t fractured) while returning an interception in the Tide’s 21-0 victory over LSU in the BCS National Championship Game after the 2011 regular season.
Mosley was named All-American the next two seasons, before the Baltimore Ravens selected him with the 17th pick of the first round in the 2014 NFL draft. The four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $85 million contract with the New York Jets in March.
Even though Tagovailoa’s college career might have been cut short by injury, Saban said the junior from Hawaii left an indelible mark on the Alabama program.
“You want to be fair and honest with all players, and you’d like to say that you treat them all the same, but that’s probably not the case,” Saban said. “I can think back to four or five players that I actually truly could say that I really love those guys as people, [and for] the way they did things, their contributions and how they affected other people. Tua would be one of those four or five guys.”
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