‘I call him to cheer him up, he cheers me up,’ Emotional Nick Saban opens up on legacy, love for Tua Tagovailoa


TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA – SEPTEMBER 07: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide converses with Tua Tagovailoa #13 against the New Mexico State Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 07, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban met with reporters Monday in Tuscaloosa, minutes after the school announced that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa underwent successful hip surgery in Houston.

The fifth-ranked Crimson Tide’s star, a potential top pick in April’s NFL draft, was injured while being dragged down by two defenders late in the first half of Saturday’s 38-7 win over Mississippi State, dislocated his right hip.

“I called him on Saturday night to cheer him up and he cheers me up,” Saban said. “I call him last night because I’ve been sitting in that room for 10 hours yesterday watching film, I call him to cheer him up, and he cheers me up. So, this is a guy who has great spirit, he is very positive just about everything he does, and the effect that he has on other people.”

“We lost a great leader, a great player on our team. We’re all hurting because of it.” Saban said on Monday, “We’re pleased that the surgery went successfully today and they expect him to have a full recovery,” he said. “I feel bad. I’m hurting.”

Alabama’s team orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Lyle Cain, announced Saturday night that Tagovailoa’s right hip dislocation was “immediately reduced at the stadium.” The Athletic’s Aaron Suttles reported that Tagovailoa also suffered a posterior wall fracture.

On Sunday, Cain announced that Tagovailoa was set to undergo surgery Monday in Houston. That surgery has now been completed, and Tagovailoa will be returning to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in the coming days to begin his rehabilitation.

“I think he’s been a great ambassador for college football in terms of the class he shows,” added Saban.

“I don’t think there’s any way that any of us say we won’t miss that spirit that he has.” Saban said Tagovailoa told him he cannot wait to get back to watch the game Saturday.”

The Crimson Tide will return to the field against Western Carolina on Saturday. Tua’s brother, former Kapolei star Taulia Tagovailoa is a back-up quarterback with ‘Bama, currently behind Mac Jones who relieved Tua following his injury.

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