Month: May 2020

Taulia Tagovailoa leaving Alabama was not a shocker

Taulia Tagovailoa has left Alabama and it came at no surprise. In the middle of a global pandemic, with no spring practice, no spring game and no telling when fall camp will start, it was time.

Alabama will forever cherish the Tagovailoa’s. Tua beat out Jalen Hurts. He won a national championship and set multiple school and national records. One may argue that no other Crimson Tide player has ever made the impact that he did on the program.

But for Taulia, he will be remembered for his high school career and for being the younger of the two. In Alabama, he threw for 71 touchdowns in two seasons at Thompson and was named 7A Quarterback of the Year in 2018 and 2019 by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Taulia threw for 13,577 yards and 135 touchdowns in high school.

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But with his brother being drafted by the Miami Dolphins, he no longer wants to be at Alabama. Do you blame him?

Mac Jones was likely the starter, Bryce Young, the backup and a battle between Taulia and Paul Tyson–the great-grandson of the late Paul “Bear” Bryant– for the third spot. It is fair to think he did not want to waste another year of eligibility.

And that’s ok.

Alabama should be good without Taulia. Now, he can be a quarterback outside of his brother’s shadow.

He joins a Maryland team coached by Mike Locksley, the former Alabama offensive coordinator and the coach who initially recruited him. He will have Rakim Jarrett, the No. 4 wide receiver nationally, No. 1 wide receiver in Washington D.C. and the No. 27 overall player.

He has the talent. He has a coach that believes in him. Now, he needs to deliver.

Some have questioned whether or not he should have been at Alabama. Both Tagovailoa’s had dreams of playing at the highest level, but they often made decisions with the family. Staying at Alabama, he would have forever been compared to his brother, regardless of how well he performed.

It’s hard being a little brother. Being Tua’s brother is even harder.

But despite living in the shadows, during Alabama’s season opener verse Duke, Taulia, with 5:03 left in the game and the Crimson Tide leading 35-3, handed the ball off to Jerome Ford for a touchdown. He celebrated. He was flexing towards the sideline. In his first collegiate game, he led a scoring drive. His older brother was there—the first to congratulate him before he had to hold the PAT.

That’s something they’ll have together for the rest of their lives. Nothing will ever take that moment away—no amount of distance. No matter where their journey takes them. They played college ball together.

In Alabama, the Tagovailoa’s are royalty.

Tua is the Hawaiian prince.

Taulia was supposed to follow.

That’s how it always will be.

His family lives in Alabama.

But it was time to say goodbye.

Tagovailoa enters transfer portal but Miami might not be the best fit for him

It was the secret everyone knew about. Taulia Tagovailoa, the younger brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, entered his name into the transfer portal.

That doesn’t mean he will leave Alabama, a player can remove his name from the database at any time, but now other programs are permitted to contact him and do not need permission. However, NCAA bylaws permit schools to pull the scholarship from the player at the end of the semester.

The younger of the Tagovailoa’s was a four-star recruit of Alabama’s 2019 recruiting class. He was the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Alabama. He had planned to redshirt his freshman season, but his brother’s season-ending injury forced him to burn that opportunity.

In five games, Tagovailoa completed nine of his 12 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Alabama was not able to have spring practice and there is no telling when fall camp will start. With Mac Jones likely the starter, and Bryce Young, the No. 1 quarterback and No. 2 overall player in the country coming in as a freshman, there is no room for a quarterback battle. It may be that Tagovailoa doesn’t want to waste another year of eligibility waiting his turn if that ever comes.

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And even though many people think he will end up in Miami with his brother, that may not be the most realistic option. Miami is D’Eriq King’s program for now. And even though King only has one season with the Hurricanes, that system might not be the right fit for Tagovailoa. It would almost be catastrophic if he transfers to Miami and gets put into a situation like former Ohio State quarterback and five-star recruit Tate Martell.

Another obstacle is the number of scholarships available. Miami is currently looking at a pair of transfers from different positions, so Miami might not even have a spot for Tagovailoa.

If he wants to be near his brother, South Florida, Florida International or Florida Atlantic may be a better, more realistic landing spot. Given that FIU is a hotbed for quarterbacks, don’t be shocked if Tagovailoa ends up there or at least has conversations with the coaching staff.

According to FIU’s recruiting coordinator, Nick Stuhlmuller, the Panthers have had more quarterbacks drafted the past three years than any other school in the sunshine state including, Florida, Florida State, Miami, FAU and UCF.

Over the past five seasons, those five schools have had just one quarterback drafted—Miami’s Brad Kaaya, who was a seventh-round pick in 2017 to the Detriot Lions.

So, maybe, the Hurricanes wouldn’t be the best fit for him. In 2019 FIU upset Miami 30-24 with former Miami head coach Butch Davis.

Or, maybe, he could end up outside the state of Florida altogether. 

Baseball is back halfway across the world and that’s a relief

It may be halfway around the world, but live regular-season baseball is back.

Following a five-week delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) is fielding its players. A league made up of 10 teams in eight cities is one of the first major sports leagues to resume play–baseball is being played in Taiwan–and while the MLB is on hold in North America, fans are tuning in to watch.

It’s not the ideal setup, but ESPN is airing six live games a week with multiple replays. During a time of many unknowns, ESPN is using live game feed from South Korea with its announcers calling the game from their homes in the United States.

In ESPN’S first game between the N.C. Dinos and Samsung Lions, which started with a rain delay, ended in a 4-0 win for the Dinos. Watching players who I’ve never heard of count the pitch was a relief. Former Phelipdephia Phillies and New York Mets outfielder Aaron Altherr, now of the Dinos, went 0-for-4. Still, Dinos starter Drew Rucinski, a former Miami Marlins pitcher, was incredible in six scoreless innings.

Then early Wednesday morning on ESPN2, the Doosan Bears defeated the L.G. Twins, 5-2.

But before these games, I had gone 52 days without watching a live sporting event. For me, that has to be a record. Sports consume my life. Every. Single. Day. Baseball, not typically my go-to game, has become the thing I most look forward to. Even with unfamiliar players, I find myself emotionally attached to it.

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Baseball is back and it’s live. And as therapeutic as it may seem to watch live sports again, it’s also a lesson as to when or if the MLB will return to action this season.

Fanless stadiums. Temperatures checked two times a day. Required to wear masks and gloves. High fives discouraged. No spitting. If a player tests positive for COVID-19, the league immediately shuts down for three weeks.

If the KBO finds success, will we see the MLB follow and begin play?

They’ll likely adopt many of the same precautions, but the United States is in a far worse spot with the global pandemic then South Korea is.

The United States has lost nearly 70,000 to COVID-19, with that number likely to grow. We haven’t seen the worst of it yet. But KBO is a look into the future.

In a recent study mentioned by the New York Times, nearly 170 million people age 12 or older identified themselves as MLB fans — the highest number in the past 25 years. Baseball has gotten America through some of the toughest of times. The Sept. 11 attacks. The Boston Bombings. The Houston hurricanes. We need to get that back.

No, the KBO is not MLB. But it is a joy to watch—a league known for its incredible fan culture; a mascot game so strong provides hope for what’s to come. While the present is so unfamiliar, the future will restore normalcy.

And, like that, sports are back even if it is 13 time zones ahead of the eastern U.S. and halfway across the world.

Health care workers, thank you!

Dear health care worker,

This is long overdue. It’s a message we should have shared long ago, but we didn’t perhaps because we overlooked the COVID-19 pandemic. We don’t anymore. It can no longer be ignored. The world has stopped.

Businesses have shut down. Sports have taken a back seat. And for most people, they have to abide by the stay-at-home order.

But not you.

Your courage is showing every day as you go to work and risk your health for others. You go home and before even saying hello to your loved ones, you must shower. During these unprecedented times, with many unknowns and no end in sight, you continue to fight.

It’s no secret, health care workers are a special breed. High stressed situations, chaotic scenes, sometimes dealing with life and death. For what? To keep others safe.

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But what has taken place over the past few months has been incredible—a story of selflessness—facing a virus with no known treatment. A virus that shows no discrimination. With over 1.9 million cases in the United States of America, with over 63,000 deaths, you continue to be positive.

It is because of you we can enjoy the simple things. When the present is so unclear, the future means more now than ever before. With your confidence, there is the hope of light at the end of the tunnel.

You may never get publicly recognized for your contributions, but know your sacrifice means the world. We appreciate everything you are doing. The most beautiful human trait somebody can have is the willingness to sacrifice their health and safety for the well beings of others.

Because the truth is, special people do extraordinary things.

You are my hero.