The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘The Bible and the Belt’

Posted on | December 2, 2018 | Comments Off on ‘The Bible and the Belt’


The University of Alabama won the SEC football title Saturday night. If you listen to this week’s episode of The Other Podcast, you’ll find me interrupting the political commentary to give updates. It was a huge gut-check for the Crimson Tide. The undefeated national champions trailed 28-14 before Tua Tagovailoa threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle with three minutes left in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Tagovailoa was injured and had to leave the game. Jalen Hurts came in at quarterback and led a drive that ended with a 10-yard TD pass to Jerry Jeudy to tie the game at 28-28. On Georgia’s next possession, the Bulldogs failed to convert a fourth down on a fake punt, surrendering the ball to Alabama at midfield with three minutes left. Hurts then led the game-winning drive, scoring on a 15-yard touchdown run.

A win is a win, even a come-from-behind win that induces cardiac trauma, and leaves your starting quarterback gimped up with a bad ankle. Tagovailoa will have four weeks to recover from his injury before the Tide’s Dec. 29 national championship playoff game (probably against Oklahoma), and Jalen Hurts was awesome, as Tagovailoa acknowledged after the game: “You guys have seen Jalen do this numerous times. For him to get his opportunity again, I am happy for him, and the team is happy for him as well, for him to step in and do what he did.”

Before Saturday’s game, however, there was controversy:

ESPN’s College GameDay aired a feature on Saturday that seemed ready to tell the story of Tagovailoa’s family life in Hawaii and the road to Tuscaloosa. Instead, it made for a disturbing viewing experience as Tua’s father, Galu, detailed how be molded Tua into a football star with a “Bible and the belt” philosophy.
Early in the story, Galu discussed how he forced Tua to throw lefty despite his son being right-hand dominant. The reason: Galu was a lefty.
Tua said his father’s strict discipline applied to both school and sports. When Tom Rinaldi followed up for clarification on what he meant, the Alabama quarterback said the “belt was involved” when he threw an interception or failed to get a certain grade.
“Two things in a Tagovailoa is your faith and your discipline. It’s simple,” Gula said, laughing.
“He means the Bible and the belt. You gotta work, son. You gotta do better. The evaluation from dad is the most honest,” his mother, Diane, added.
The feature also shed light on how Tua ended up at Alabama. Gula made the decision. Regardless of what Tua favored, he said his father had the final say.

The revelation that the Alabama quarterback’s family believes in corporal punishment evidently shocked some viewers, but how do you think championship athletes are made, anyway? Football is not a game for weaklings. Becoming the best quarterback in the country — Tua threw for 3,189 yards and 36 touchdowns during the regular season — doesn’t just happen accidentally, you know. Someone should do an interview of NFL Hall of Fame members and ask, “Did you father ever spank you with a belt?” My guess is that at least 90% would answer yes, and they wouldn’t even think it was controversial. That’s just the way it was.

Old-fashioned good parenting — “your faith and your discipline,” as Gula Tagovailoa said — may seem “disturbing” to some sports writers, but they’re not the ones playing in the championship game, are they?

Here, watch the 5-minute video and judge for yourself:


Gula Tagovailoa: “You want the best for your kids. I felt the best was USC, because a lot of great players came out of there. I felt like, man, maybe Tua can be a part of that. But when Alabama called, it just changed everything.”
Diane Tagovailoa: “Nobody gets an offer from the University of Alabama who lives in Hawaii. So it was like, wow, is this really true? Is this really happening?”
Gula Tagovailoa: “I was like, all right. You want to go big? Let’s do it big. You want to go compete? Alabama’s where it’s at.”

Yes, sir, Mr. Tagovailoa — and thank you for raising such a fine son!

“Every ’Bama man’s behind you, hit your stride!”

(Hat-tip: Kirby McCain on Twitter.)



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