Averion Hurts Sr. won't return my calls. I don't blame him. Hurts is the football father who told Bleacher Report this offseason that, if his son Jalen didn't get the starting job at Alabama, he'd be "the biggest free agent in college football history."

You must have noticed by now that Jalen Hurts didn't get the starting job. You must understand, too, that Jalen Hurts isn't a college free agent, either.

Most amazingly, Jalen Hurts isn't transferring from Alabama.

That seems obvious now. A new NCAA rule that goes into effect Oct. 15 says a player can appear in up to four games and still retain that year of eligibility. On Monday, at the beginning of Week 5, a handful of players announced they were transferring. That saved them a year of eligibility.

Hurts wasn't one of those players. A veteran of 28 career starts and an owner of a national championship ring basically sacrificed his Alabama starting job and a year of eligibility (elsewhere) to be a backup. Nick Saban said as much Friday in an ESPN report

At the elite level, I don't know if that has ever happened.

It also qualifies as one of the most brilliant coaching moves of Saban's career. He has somehow convinced Hurts and his family that, despite losing his starting job he held for two years, it is in the quarterback's best interest to stay at Alabama and backup the phenomenon that is becoming Tua Tagovailoa.

Upside for Nick: Alabama retains one of the deepest quarterback rooms in the country. That and it limits the possibility of Hurts playing against him for two years down to one. (I seem to recall Auburn and LSU will each need a quarterback next season.)

Downside for Hurts: being the all-time good teammate. Either way, Hurts will complete his degree in December and be eligible somewhere immediately as a graduate transfer. In that scenario, he would start three years in college instead of four -- and maybe walk away with two championship rings.

Is that so bad?

"I understand how unique a situation this is," Saban told ESPN. "I don't know of any other precedent at any time in college football where a guy started 28 games, won 26 of them and then somebody took his place. That's never happened."

Quarterback2018 PossessionsPlaysAvg.Pass TDs

Tua Tagovailoa





Jalen Hurts





And it all goes against college football quarterback culture. At the elite level, they're either startin' or departin'. Remember Hurts in August complaining about being kept in the dark regarding his battle with Tua?

"A lot of people have made decisions for me," he said. "… There was never a decision to be made in regards to me leaving."

Hurts said he was "shocked" Saban suggested there was a question whether Hurts would be around for the season opener.

Why leave, Hurts added, when he was 13 hours away from graduating? Why? Players don't need a reason. Oklahoma State slot receiver Jalen McCleskey announced he was transferring Monday despite being the No. 6 pass catcher in team history. McCleskey's reason: He wasn't getting enough playing time.

That's the antithesis of Hurts. We're talking about a player who could start at, well, I decided to ask a panel experts what exactly Hurts was giving up by staying at Alabama. In other words, if he transferred today, how many programs would insert Hurts as their starter?

Two former Power Five coach texted that "90 percent" of FBS would take Hurts.

"Talented and a teammate," one said.

In the Big Ten, each team but Penn State and Ohio State, that coach added. Everyone in the MAC, Pac-12, ACC and Big 12.

"SEC would take him at every school but Alabama," he continued before realizing the implications what he had said. "Not without disagreements."

There would be discussion -- at least -- about Drew Lock (Missouri), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), Jake Bentley (South Carolina), Kirk Shurmur (Vanderbilt) and Jake Fromm (Georgia).

Among our college football writers here at CBS Sports, Barton Simmons asserted 75-80 percent of FBS teams would take Hurts.

Barrett Sallee: "I've gone back and forth on this. Probably about 60-70 percent. Not as many teams as I first thought. Teams could use a running QB who doesn't make mistakes."

Chip Patterson: "I could think 37 of the 65 Power Five teams would take Jalen Hurts as a starter right now. A handful of those are schools that have already dealt with injuries at the quarterback position. A dozen or so have quarterback situations that are limiting the team's ceiling. The rest are teams where I believe Hurts is better than the current starter."

Tom Fornelli: "Obviously, it depends on what kind of offenses the schools run, but looking around the Power Five, I think most schools would be interested. If I look at the Big Ten, the only teams who might not consider him an upgrade over what they have are Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State. Every other school would likely consider him. At the same time, he's not a great fit with most Big 12 schools.

"So, in the Power Five, I'd say the conservative estimate is 50 percent, but it's probably higher than that."

Whatever the case, it's clear Hurts is somehow not departin' despite not startin'.