Shortly after Saban addressed the matter following Alabama's 35-16 victory over Michigan in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl, Tagovailoa tweeted: "I'll be making my decision on the 6th.. God bless and Roll Tide."
After Alabama's season-ending win in Orlando, the biggest question for the Crimson Tide is how many of their draft-eligible players will come back. The list starts with Tagovailoa, who suffered a dislocated right hip in November against Mississippi State, throwing his future into question.
Despite the injury, Tagovailoa remains Alabama's top-rated prospect on Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board, at No. 3. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, a big Michigan donor, was in Orlando and was spotted on the Michigan sideline near where Tagovailoa -- with crutches -- was on the field taking in pregame warm-ups.
The Dolphins need a quarterback, and many project they'll take Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa had been noncommittal about his future since the injury. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Jan. 17.
"That's a decision that I think his family needs to make," Saban said. "And I'm sure when they make that decision, they'll let everybody know. I think it's our responsibility and our job to make sure that we give them all the information from an NFL standpoint, from a medical standpoint, from a rehab standpoint. And if there is any way that he could possibly be devalued because of his injury, what are the consequences of that and how does that affect his decision and what he does in the future? But he's been a great leader for us. He's a great player on our team. He was elected captain of the team by his teammates. And we just want what's best for him.
"I think that's my job with all the players is to make sure they get the right information from the right people about what their status is so that they can make a business decision about what they do for their future. And that's what we're going to continue to do, and we're going to continue to do that for Tua and his family."
Saban was asked whether Tagovailoa will be ready medically for this year's April draft or whether it would benefit him to come back to school for one more season.
"I'm not a doctor," Saban said. "I haven't operated on anybody's hip before. I'm struggling to be a good coach, which is plenty to do for me. That's a question for a medical person. We have a lot of hip specialists that have given the family a lot of information, and we're going to continue to do that. Our medical staff has done a great job of getting Tua to this point, and his rehab is going well, and that's what we're going to be responsible to try to help him with in the short term."
The list of Tide underclassmen with NFL prospects goes beyond Tagovailoa. Two players, linebacker Terrell Lewis and cornerback Trevon Diggs, opted to sit out the game. But Saban said nine juniors who received draft grades decided to play against Michigan, a rarity in an era when many draft-eligible players skip bowl games to protect themselves.
One of those top-rated juniors, receiver Jerry Jeudy, ended with six catches for 204 yards and one touchdown and was named the game's MVP. Said Saban: "He used this opportunity to showcase his ability, so it probably even enhanced his opportunities at the next level."
"I played football all my life, so I couldn't just sit out there and watch my team play and my brothers be out there," Jeudy said. "So I just wanted to go to war with my brothers like I've been doing the whole season. I love playing football, so I just wanted to come out here and compete with my brothers."
Jeudy, rated No. 4 on Kiper's Big Board, didn't give an update on which way he is leaning. Neither did receiver DeVonta Smith, who had 56 yards receiving and a touchdown and ranks No. 23 on Kiper's Big Board.
Smith said Tagovailoa's decision won't impact his.
"Not at all," Smith said. "I'm my own person, Tua's his own person. He's going to make a decision that's best for him. I'm going to make a decision that's best for me."
Alabama received good news Tuesday when linebacker Dylan Moses opted to return to school. Then a post on the Alabama football Twitter account, showing only a row of dominoes falling, got many wondering whether this was a message about other players, such as Tagovailoa, possibly returning to school.
"I don't know what everybody else is thinking," Smith said. "I don't know what everybody else's decision is, but you just have to see."