After losing to Texas in the second week of the season, Alabama and quarterback Jalen Milroe were written off as failures. The poor performance produced doubters and naysayers, which led to the creation of the Crimson Tide’s motto for the season, “LANK,” which stands for “Let All Naysayers Know.” The motto grew, and Milroe took advantage of the situation by putting the motto on clothing so that he could profit under the new NIL rules.

During a media session for the Rose Bowl on Thursday, Milroe revealed an unexpected naysayer. Milroe shared that Bill O'Brien, the former offensive coordinator for Alabama, doubted him as a quarterback and recommended a change in his position earlier in his career.

"Shoot, my own offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said I shouldn't play quarterback," Milroe said Thursday before the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. "He told me a bunch of positions I could have switched to but look where I'm at right now. So who gets the last laugh?"

Milroe was also asked how he reacted when the former offensive coordinator recommended a position change.

Milroe responded to the reporter, "How would you feel if I told you you suck?"

"That's exactly how I felt," he continued. "The biggest thing for me is to be true to myself and stay the same. Nothing changed about me. Only thing that changed about me was I had an opportunity, and I seized it. For me, the biggest thing was just stay true to myself and add a bigger purpose to anyone's opinion."

O'Brien served as the offensive coordinator during Milroe's initial two seasons on campus, his redshirt year in 2021 and his redshirt freshman year in 2022. Throughout both seasons, Milroe held the backup position behind Bryce Young, the Heisman Trophy winner and the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

After the conclusion of the 2022 season, O'Brien and Alabama went their separate ways as he accepted a position with the New England Patriots. The Crimson Tide selected Tommy Rees, who was then the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, as O'Brien's replacement. Rees has since established a strong rapport with Milroe.

"He's done a really good job with my development and helping me out and pushing me in the right direction to be successful," Milroe said. "I take a lot of pride in wearing the 'A,' but also being coached by him. Because beyond football, just him as a person has been really, really good for me, and I've benefited from having Coach Rees here."

Thankfully, Milroe had a never-give-up attitude and didn’t heed O’Brien's advice. In 12 starts this season, Milroe achieved a 65.5% completion rate on his passes, accumulating 2,718 yards and securing 23 touchdowns with six interceptions. Additionally, he contributed 468 yards on the ground, accompanied by a team-leading 12 rushing touchdowns.

Milroe concluded the season ranked sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting and is considered one of the early contenders for the award in the upcoming season.

Milroe will lead No. 4 Alabama against No. 1 Michigan in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day at 4 p.m. CT on ESPN.

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