During Saturday’s edition of College GameDay, ESPN ran a segment on Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his journey to Tuscaloosa. Around the 1:15 mark of the segment, which you can watch here, Tagovailoa discussed the way his father would discipline him when he struggled on or off the field.
Tagovailoa said he would “get it” in the event he did not perform up to his father’s standards, and when asked to specify what that meant, he revealed he would get beaten with a belt.
“Oh, well, just know that the belt was involved and other things are involved as well,” Tagovailoa said. “And it’s almost the same with school. If I don’t get this grade, I don’t get this grade, I’m gonna have to suffer the consequences.”
The camera then cut to Tagovailoa’s father, Galu, who laughed as he said the two things in the family’s home were “your faith and your discipline.” His mother, Diane, expanded on what he meant with this statement.
“He means the Bible and the belt,” she said. “‘You gotta work son, you gotta do better,’ the evaluation from dad is the most honest.”
Later in the segment, Tua explained that his father was “the decision maker in the family,” and that “whether I wanted to go to other schools or not, my dad had the final say in where I was going,” which drove him to pick Alabama.
The segment was meant to be a feel-good story of the importance of Tagovailoa’s family, but instead, the praise involved in the Crimson Tide signal caller getting beaten by a belt made it rather disturbing. This popped up again during GameDay‘s Saturday Selections, as Desmond Howard cracked a joke in which he called Galu Tagovailoa “the Hawaiian Joe Jackson,” the father of Michael Jackson who was famously accused of (and, eventually, admitted to) abusing his children.