"Everybody knows that Tua's gonna start and we're gonna use Jalen's skill set in the future," Saban said.
Saban, who avoided making any statements about the quarterbacks until now, made a point of saying that not naming a starter until after the first game was no different from how he has handled the position in the past.
"Now we know and you know," he said of making the decision to start Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa, who was the hero coming off the bench during the national championship game in January, got his first career start during a 51-14 win over Louisville last Saturday. The sophomore from Hawaii threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for a touchdown.
"Tua is instinctive and made pretty good decisions in the game and got the ball to the right place most of the time," Saban said.
Hurts, who had started 28 straight games before Saturday night and had a 26-2 record, didn't see the field until the game was well in hand during the second quarter. The junior and former SEC Offensive Player of the Year completed 5 of 9 passes for 70 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
It's unclear how Hurts will handle the demotion. He's committed to staying through December, when he's scheduled to graduate, but if he were to appear in four or fewer games, he could take a redshirt and keep a year of eligibility. Under that scenario, he could leave as a graduate transfer and play immediately with two years of eligibility remaining.
For now, though, Saban has said he hasn't even thought of the redshirt rule as it relates to Hurts.
"Not from my standpoint," he said. "I don't know how you can prepare when you pick and choose when you're gonna play players. ... I don't know how a player really can pick or choose when he wants to play and have any respect for his teammates."
Alabama will hold its home opener Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) against Arkansas State. It opens SEC play a week later at Ole Miss.