Alabama SI Cover Tournament: Tua vs. Promised Land
Ok, we swear we weren't going for a religious theme with this potential matchup when setting up the 48-field bracket for the Alabama SI Cover Tournament.
But Tua Tagovailoa, with crosses painted on his cheeks, going up against the cover boasting the headline "Promised Land," does bring forth some interesting imagery.
Regardless, it's maybe Alabama's best quarterback to date up against the 2015 national championship game, with the winner moving on to the Sweet 16.
BamaCentral is holding a single-elimination tournament to determine the best Alabama Sports Illustrated cover.
All Things Bama Regional
Game 31: Tua vs. The Promised Land (Kenyan Drake)
Story headline: Take Tua
Subhead: A year later, at the scene of his biggest triumph, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was humbled and hurt. Now the sophomore must recapture the magic he found during a brilliant regular season, not only to win a second straight College Football Playoff but also to represent proudly his family and his heritage
Excerpt (by Greg Bishop): The dreams started coming to Seu Tagovailoa almost 20 years ago, these visions that unveiled the prophecy of a boy whose greatness would be revealed on the football field. Seu would prop his infant grandson on one knee and tell the child known as Tua, "Your name is everything. And one day, it will be known all over the world."
Seu had moved from American Samoa to Hawaii years earlier in search of more opportunities for his six daughters and three sons. He left behind his status in the village and his job as a police officer and became a hotel security guard and the head deacon at their small family church in working class Ewa Beach on the island of Oahu. He prayed every day and ministered every weekend, ferrying the young children in his small car, making the rest of his family take the bus.
More than anything, Tua's grandfather sought to influence future generations of Tagovailoas by sowing fearlessness in their souls. He would tell them that they were lions, strong and daring and capable of transforming sheep into mighty warriors. This was Tua's destiny, of that Seu was certain, and if the prophecy of his oldest grandson seemed to border on delusion or hyperbole, he assured Tua that if he did only what was asked of him, the nonbelievers would know his name in time. "My father saw in Tua something the world is just starting to see now," says his aunt, Sai Amosa. "That he's playing for God and playing for the universe. An audience of one and an audience of all."
Promised Land: The Alabama Dynasty Rolls On
Story headline: This One Is Special
Subhead: An audacious onside kick. An electrifying kickoff return. A breakout by an underused tight end. Alabama needed something beyond its usual formula to hold off Clemson, but the end result was familiar: a fifth national title for coach Nick Saban
Excerpt (by Andy Staples): Nick Saban's game face typically ranges from stone to snarl, but the corners of his mouth turned north even as his team remained deadlocked with Clemson in the fourth quarter of Monday's national championship game. Was it relief? Joy? Or a knowing smirk?
At the team's hotel earlier in the day Saban had told Crimson Tide junior kicker Adam Griffith to be prepared to execute the pop kick onside protocol against the Tigers. Saban had noticed on film that when Clemson expected the ball to be booted deep into the corner, the Tigers squeezed to one side of the field. When Clemson lined up that way several times on Monday, Saban knew the pop kick could work—as long as freshman defensive back Marlon Humphrey, the play's target, didn't drop the ball the way he had in the Tide's walk-through practice. Tied at 24, with his defense panting from chasing Clemson sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson—who was dazzling with 405 yards passing and 73 on the ground—Saban decided Alabama needed to gamble. "He pushed all the chips in," strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran growled later.
Griffith tapped the ball skyward in a perfect arc. Humphrey, with nary a Clemson player in arm's distance, caught it on the 50, unleashing a (brief) grin from Saban. "He told us we're not allowed to smile during games," special teams coordinator Bobby Williams cracked. Two plays later senior quarterback Jake Coker hit junior tight end O.J. Howard down the left sideline for a 51-yard touchdown. The Tide had wrested the momentum away from a worthy opponent, and Alabama gutted out a 45-40 win to claim its fourth national title in seven seasons. Saban, who also won the 2003 title at LSU, moved one behind Bear Bryant, who won six championships. Saban brushed off questions about one day surpassing the Tide icon, but he couldn't hide his pride in a team that was written off in September but rose to win a title anyway, using a mix of new and old schemes and an attitude that has produced champions for as long as games have had scoreboards.
Promised Land def. Tua, 57.6-42.4 percent