Alabama coach Nick Saban on Thursday addressed criticism from two former Crimson Tide quarterbacks who were unhappy with the communication they received last year regarding their roles.
Blake Barnett and Cooper Bateman, who have since transferred, told ESPN's Kyle Bonagura this week that they were caught off guard when true freshman Jalen Hurts received the bulk of the playing time in Alabama's season-opening 52-6 win against USC in 2016. Barnett said that heading into the game, he was under the impression that the job was his, and Bateman believed he would split time with Barnett, which is what Saban had said publicly would be the case the week of the game.
"How things were communicated, there was a lack of communication," Bateman said. "I knew I didn't want to be involved with that anymore."
Saban addressed their complaints in an interview Thursday with ESPN's Chris Low.
"I tried to do the best job that I could to tell them exactly how we were going to play the quarterbacks and the opportunity that they had," Saban said.
Barnett and Bateman said they thought about transferring almost immediately after the opener. Barnett left the program four games into the season to maximize his eligibility at a new school and ended up at Arizona State. Bateman played out the season as Hurts' primary backup and is now at Utah.
Alabama finished the regular season 12-0, won the SEC and finished as the national runner-up. Hurts, the first freshman to start at quarterback for Saban, was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
"We try to give everybody a fair chance, you know, to win the position," Saban said. "I feel like it's my job to do a good job of making the best choice and decision for our team. And one of the most difficult things is sometimes that's not what everybody else would like for it to be. You can't make everybody happy. Everybody wants to play; I have a tremendous amount of respect for those guys as competitors.
"I wish those guys well. They did a great job for us and this program, and I hope they do well wherever they choose to take their career now."