ESPN's College GameDay broadcast on Saturday morning aired a segment about Heisman frontrunner Tua Tagovailoa, focusing on the Alabama quarterback's Hawaiian heritage and family ties. Reporter Tom Rinaldi asked Tagovailoa about his upbringing and his father's involvement in his development as an athlete.
Tagovailoa, 20, talked about the tremendous amount of respect he has for his father, Galu, how he trained Tua as a child and the pressure that was placed on him at home. Amid the supposedly feel-good story, Tagovailoa also revealed that his father used to discipline him with a belt after bad performances and interceptions.
"If I don't perform well, perform the way I'm supposed to, I'm going to get it after," Tagovailoa said.
Rinaldi then asked him to clarify: "When you say 'I’m going to get it,' just be clear what you mean there, Tua."
"Well, just know the belt was involved, and other things were involved as well," Tagovailoa said. "It’s almost the same with school. If I don’t get this grade, I’m going to have to suffer the consequences."
His father, Galu, acknowledged how tough he was, citing interceptions in particular as a problem.
"I was tough," Galu said. "He could go 15-for-15 with four touchdowns, but when he throws a pick, it’s the worst game.
Tagovailoa's mother, Diane, confirmed this toughness, referring to the rules of their household as "the bible and the belt."
The sophomore signal caller has started every game this season for Alabama. Head coach Nick Saban, who was also interviewed for the piece, said Tagovailoa has an "almost uncommon" respect for his father, who moved his family to Alabama when Tua began playing for the Crimson Tide.
Tagovailoa led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated regular season, throwing for 3,189 yards on 70.3% completion for 36 touchdowns through 12 games. He'll lead his team against the Georgia Bulldogs again on Saturday afternoon for the SEC title.