Second & 26 Was A Moment For The Ages, But Injuries Led To A Lot Of ‘What Ifs’
There were certainly the high moments, but now that he’s off to the NFL, what is the legacy of Tua Tagovailoa at the University of Alabama?
Certainly, one moment stands out above all others. Second-and-26 is one of the greatest moments in Alabama football history, right up thee with the Goal Line Stand against Penn State that secured a National Championship for Bear Bryant in the 1978 season.
But now that he’s gone, Alabama fans look back at Tua with some mixed feelings. He is revered yet the two ankle injuries and the final hip injury leaves people feeling a bit empty. There’s a lot of “what ifs” that linger in the minds of the fans.
“What if” Tua had not had that first ankle injury? Would that have made a difference against Clemson? That’s both a physical and mental question because he seemed to be pressing in that game, perhaps too eager to show the ankle was not bothering him.
(Frankly, I think Clemson still would have won because the players and coaches were so determined and had been preparing for that game since the offseason.)
“What if” Tua had not gotten that ankle injury this year against Tennessee? Would he not have fumbled on that opening drive against LSU, a critical play that would have set an early tone for that game? Would he have had a game for the ages by out-dueling Joe Burrow? That nearly happened anyway.
“What if” Tua had come out a series earlier against Mississippi State? Would that have made a difference against Auburn? Probably, and then “what if” Alabama had made the College Football Playoffs. “What if” the Tide – with a healthy Tua – won another National Championship?
The fact Tua was part of one title as a freshman led to the potential of the Tide winning one or perhaps even two more with him. As it is, while Bama fans certainly hold him him in high esteem for Second-and-26 and many other magical moments while at the Capstone, his legacy ultimately will be one of “what ifs” instead of total triumphs.
Note: Kevin Wilkerson is a University of Alabama alumni and covered the Crimson Tide as a reporter. He has watched a lot of games through the years.