ASU transfer Blake Barnett still upset about Nick Saban’s ‘nervous’ comment

By Jesse Reed
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Former Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett, now with Arizona State, is still seemingly bitter towards Nick Saban regarding comments he made last season.

As we know, Jalen Hurts was a tremendous weapon for the Crimson Tide last year, but he didn’t start the campaign as the starting quarterback for the program. That position was held by Barnett heading into Week 1. But his performance in the first half of the team’s first game in 2016 against USC wasn’t sharp enough for Saban, who benched him in the second half in favor of Hurts.

During halftime, Saban told ESPN’s Sam Ponder Barnett looked “nervous,” which led to his decision.

Then when Barnett transferred in late September, Saban made comments suggesting Barnett was a quitter.

“It’s one of those things where I think the culture has changed a little bit,” Saban said (h/t “I think there’s a certain pride people have in competition. There’s certain things that I was taught growing up about not quitting and seeing things through. I think if I would have come home and told my dad that I was going to quit the team, I think he would have kicked me out of the house. I don’t think I’d have a place to stay.”

The whole quitting angle from Saban, as many have pointed out, is pretty rich. After all, some would argue he quit on being an NFL coach and scurried back to college after two mediocre seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

Not surprisingly, Barnett doesn’t look back at what happened with feelings of fondness.

“A lot of backlash that I received from [the USC game] was that I came out nervous,” Barnett said, per ESPN’s Ted Miller. “I think you could ask just about every teammate and they’d agree that I wasn’t. But a certain coach went out to the media and said that I was and so I got that negative reputation from it.”

Barnett also still wonders why it all happened but appears ready to move forward in his new surroundings.

“Things ended up the way they did,” said Barnett, who will be a redshirt sophomore this fall. “To be honest, I’m not quite sure why. But I’m here now.”

No doubt, Barnett is eager to prove Saban wrong about his ability to handle pressure. He’ll be somewhat insulated from the bright lights of the national spotlight playing at ASU, though he’ll also have some huge opportunities to knock off the Pac 12’s top teams when the Sun Devils take on Stanford, Washington, USC, Colorado, UCLA and Utah this season.