5 months ago

Alabama coach Nick Saban out to re-establish the standard for this year’s Crimson Tide team

Alabama coach Nick Saban said his Crimson Tide team heads into 2019 with a need to re-establish the standard that has brought it national championship success in years past.

The Crimson Tide coach touched on a number of topics at SEC Football Media Days 2019, including what he likes and doesn’t like about the transfer portal, where quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can improve and whether he’s a tough boss.

Saban’s team is coming off a 44-16 drumming by Clemson in the national championship game to close out the 2018 season, which saw the Tide go undefeated in the regular season, win the SEC championship game and defeat Oklahoma in the first round of the College Football Playoff.

But the bad taste from the Clemson loss is what lingers, Saban said.

“I think that we didn’t play with the discipline at the end of the season that we’d like to have as a team,” Saban said. “I don’t think that our preparation, so that we can go in a game and be very responsible and accountable to do our job at a high level on a consistent basis, was what it needed to be.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban speaks at SEC Media Days 2019 from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The coach said the loss can be used as motivation for the upcoming season.

“I think if you’re a great competitor and you are in a game like we were for the national championship and you didn’t perform very well, and given all much the credit to the other team who beat us and took advantage of the opportunities that they have, not to take anything away from them, but if you’re a competitor, you’re going to respond in a positive way and learn from the things that you didn’t do, whether those things were in preparation, game-day decisions, you know, the habits that you created leading up to the game the second half of the season,” Saban said. “All of those things contribute to, are we going to be able to have success against one of the best teams, or the best team, in the country. And we obviously didn’t do that. That’s my responsibility.”

For Saban, the response is re-establishing the standard.

“I think the most important thing for us, you know, in this offseason and going into this season is sort of re-establish the standard that we’d like to play to, standard of discipline, also, players that are going to be responsible and accountable to do their job at a high level on a consistent basis and also put the team first,” Saban said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t have individual goals and aspirations in terms of what you want to accomplish, what you want to do for the team, but it has to be about the team. I think that sometimes people see you when you create numbers for yourself and do great individual things, but you really get noticed when you do those things and the team has success as well.”

That “team first” mentality may have been lacking last year, Saban said.

“Whether or not people were worried about personal outcomes more than team outcomes, it’s always hard to judge that,” he said. “But it seems like we had a lot of distractions at the end of the year. So hopefully we learned from those scenarios, and it will help us do the things that we need to do to be able to play to our full potential throughout this season.”

Saban said it will be important for leaders on the team to help enforce standards.

“That’s something that I think is important on every team and certainly something that we challenge the leadership on our team to do a great job of this year to help our young players understand the culture and the standard that we’d like to do things to,” he said. “And I think it’s important for those leaders to set a good example, be somebody that the young players on the team can emulate, care enough about them to help them for their benefit, and serve the team well because it helps everybody play to a higher standard.”

Speaking of leadership, Saban noted he is once again starting a new season with new coordinators on his staff.

Steve Sarkisian returns to Alabama after two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL. Pete Golding was promoted to defensive coordinator from last year’s staff.

While the coordinators may change, Saban said Alabama doesn’t.

“You know, we don’t change systems at Alabama,” Saban said. “So we change the system to effectively take advantage of the players that we have in our program. So that’s what we want to do. Obviously, we’ll do some different things and some new things relative to the new coaches that we have, but we also maintain the same system that we’ve had in the past.”

Saban has had to replace a number of coaches and coordinators during his time at Alabama, most of them going on to head coaching or positions of increased responsibility at other schools. Is Saban a difficult boss?

“Well, I don’t know. You have to ask some of the people that work for me,” Saban said. “Always interesting that, you know, they may say that, but then when they get a job and they go do it, they do it exactly like we did it. So, I don’t know.”

Constantly recruiting, maintaining a roster of 125 players and maintaining a standard of excellence is hard work.

“So none of this is easy,” Saban said. “And I think, when you’re in a position of leadership and you’re trying to make people be accountable and responsible to a standard that’s going to help you continue to have success, that sometimes you have to make people do things that they really don’t want to do that may be in the best interest of the overall organization.”

The player transfer portal is another element that Saban and his staff now have to face. Saban said the premise of the portal – allowing players to explore transferring and letting interested schools contact them – is a good one. However, Saban does not like the passing out of waivers that prevent a player from having to sit out a year at the new school.

“The issue with the transfer portal is we’ve gotten very liberal in giving people waivers, so, when we do that, it becomes free agency, which I don’t think is good for college football,” Saban said. “So, in my opinion, if we’re going to have a transfer portal that’s good for the players, then we ought to have a rule that says, regardless of what happens when you transfer, you have to sit out a year.”

Saban said it’s his job to create an environment where players want to come and stay.

“So we want to have the best coaches, the best teachers, the best facilities, the best strength and conditioning medical staff, nutritionist, you name it,” Saban said. “We want to have the best that we can so we give every player an opportunity to reach their full potential.”

But Saban said honesty is also important.

“I asked players all of the time to establish goals for themselves personally, academically and athletically, and then I try to get them to edit their behavior to be able to accomplish those goals,” Saban said. “And if their behavior is not in line with that, we sort of tell them. And some people don’t like to believe the truth.”

Saban had more to say about why being truthful with players is the only approach.

“You know, there’s three things about the truth,” Saban said. “I tell my kids all of the time about, if you don’t tell me the truth, I can’t trust you. If I can’t trust you, we can’t have a relationship. But truth is important. I think we all have to tell the truth. I think we have to live the truth, but I also think sometimes you got to believe the truth. So when somebody tells you something you really don’t want to hear that you might need to do that’s going to help you be more successful, you got to believe it. Some people have a hard time with that.”

A full scholarship load has kept Saban and his staff from spending a lot of time looking for players in the transfer portal. Saban said there is one place he looks to add players.

“We look at who is in the graduate transfer pool. And if there’s somebody that can give us immediate help on our team, we have had several graduate transfers,” Saban said. “So we really haven’t been active at all in, you know, that part of how we bring players to our team.”

Saban touched on a number of other subjects.

On Tagovailoa’s development at quarterback:“You know, towards end of the season, we turned the ball over a little bit more offensively than what we had in the first half of the season. And I’m sure that he wants to make sure that the decision-making that led to some of those things are something that he can improve on,” Saban said. “Tua is a great competitor so he’s going to try to make a great play every play. And sometimes those things have worked out extremely well. And other times they’ve led to some disasters. So having a little better judgment about when to say when can be an asset from a health standpoint as well as eliminate negative play standpoint, even though sometimes he’s done that, and it’s worked out great.”

On being 16-0 against his former assistants who are head coaches at competing schools: “I think that’s not a very fair stat. All of the former assistants that we have, they get jobs. They don’t take a program over that has the established, you know, talent, culture and all that that we have at Alabama. So when they get the opportunity to establish those things in their program, they’re going to be able to beat Alabama and compete with Alabama,” he said. “I think a lot of those guys are going to be able to do that extremely well. Some have done it already. So, I think it’s a matter of time until those challenges get greater and greater for us.”

On pinpointing the secret to his success: “I don’t really know the secret to the success other than, you know, we worked hard and we’ve been in some really good situations through the years with really good people who are very supportive and given us the tools that we have that can create value for players so we can attract good players, and we’ve been able to develop those players with the knowledge and experience that we have on our staffs and, you know, with what we’ve been able to create through the years,” Saban said. “And I’m sort of a perfectionist by nature. And I know you can’t be perfect, but we’re always working to try to close the gap on perfect if we can and get everybody in the organization to try to do the same.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

25 mins ago

Doug Jones on Trump impeachment inquiry: ‘Not a witch hunt … not a hoax, it’s not fake news’

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) continues to say he has not made up his mind one way or the other on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, however on Thursday he made it very clear that he believes in the need for the process to play out, pushing back on Republican arguments that this is a political exercise by Democrats.

Per WHNT, Jones in a conference call with reporters on Thursday once again noted his role essentially as a juror in the Senate if the House impeaches the president. Jones has said it would be improper for him or any of his colleagues to have made up their minds on whether they would vote to convict Trump already, as the trial needs to be held, evidence examined and witnesses heard from.

Yet, Alabama’s junior senator did seem to land on one side of the aisle when it comes to his remarks on the ongoing impeachment inquiry in the House, which was launched with no Republicans voting for it and even two Democrats voting against it.

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“Everything that you’re seeing, though, is not a witch hunt. It’s not a hoax, it’s not fake news,” Jones said, according to WHNT.

“This is a serious constitutional matter the founders of this country envisioned a long time ago,” he added. “This is not about an individual. It is not about one person. It is about the conduct of the presidency and how we want future presidents to conduct themselves while in office.”

Republicans across the nation — including many Alabama elected officials — have sharply criticized the impeachment inquiry.

In a statement to WHNT, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) — well respected as one of the country’s preeminent statesmen — shared a divergent view from Jones on the impeachment inquiry.

“This effort to impeach the President is a political circus engineered by the Democrats, distracting us from the important work we need to complete for the American people,” Shelby stated.

“If and when an impeachment resolution comes to the Senate, I will sit as a juror and carefully consider any evidence presented to reach a conclusion based on the facts – as outlined in our Constitution,” Alabama’s senior senator concluded.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Tagovailoa on injury recovery odds: ‘Bible says walk by faith and not by sight’

University of Alabama star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa held a press conference on Thursday in Tuscaloosa, answering a wide range of questions on topics such as being injured last month against Mississippi State; his decision making process related to whether he will leave for the NFL Draft or not; and what his recovery prospects look like.

After beginning the press conference with a seeming impersonation of Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, Tagovailoa began answering questions, many similar to ones he addressed earlier this week on whether he will opt to enter the NFL Draft or come back to UA for his senior season.

He described the immediate moments after he injured his right hip — when he was still down lying on the field. The QB called the injury “traumatic” and explained that since he was also concussed, it was essentially a blur other than remembering he was in significant pain.

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Tagovailoa was soon thereafter asked what it is like now, not knowing whether he will truly be able to recover from the injury after surgery — or play football at or near the level he is accustomed to.

The Hawaii native, who has never been shy to speak about his deep faith in God, gave a very frank answer.

“I firmly believe in the Bible, and the Bible says you walk by faith and not by sight. So, that’s pretty much what I’m holding onto — just trusting the good Lord. He’s the best doctor for me and what I believe in,” Tagovailoa said. “I feel this is something that is bigger than me.”

He also expressed his confidence in the many medical professionals and athletic training staff helping him throughout the process.

Dr. Lyle Cain, Bama’s team orthopedic surgeon from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Clinic at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, has previously said that Tagovailoa’s “prognosis is excellent” after the surgery, which the doctor called “successful.”

“[W]e expect him to make a full recovery,” Cain added.

Tagovailoa on Thursday added, “I feel like I’ll still be able to come back 100% and be able to play to the capability that I’m able to play at.”

He concluded the press conference by noting he is now probably facing “the biggest decision” of his life when it comes to staying at UA or leaving.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Tuberville campaign offering plastic straws as stocking stuffers — ‘Can you believe Democrats won’t even say Merry Christmas?’

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, currently a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, on Thursday took on Democrats on two issues unique to the times.

First, his online campaign store is now selling plastic straws with “Tuberville 2020” printed on them as stocking stuffers, per a Facebook post. This comes amid the national movement towards paper straws from the left. Plastic straws are even being banned from restaurant usage in Democrat controlled cities like Seattle and Washington, D.C., as well as the state of California.

“While liberals are banning straws, we’re making them the perfect stocking gift for Christmas! Show your support for Coach Tuberville this Christmas season,” his campaign posted.

Additionally, the very premise of saying “Merry Christmas” — or celebrating it at all– is once again making the rounds on social media after Salon in recent days published an article from one of its “reporters” about how President Donald Trump supposedly “ruined” Christmas. In this article, this reporter claims she will now not celebrate the holiday because of Trump and his supporters, asserting that Christmas has become symbolic of “white supremacist America.”

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“Can you believe Democrats won’t even say Merry Christmas?” Tuberville lamented to conclude his Facebook post.

This came on the day of the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse at President’s Park in front of the White House.

Watch:

Trump is also set to hold at least one “Merry Christmas rally” this month.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Rogers: ‘Nancy Pelosi has fully surrendered all control of the House to the Socialist horde’

In a Thursday statement, Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03) blasted U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) decision to proceed with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and our heart full of love for America, today, I am asking our chairmen (of relevant committees) to proceed with articles of impeachment,” Pelosi announced in a brief televised statement from the Capitol earlier in the day.

Rogers tore into the announcement.

“Even after all of Adam Schiff’s disastrous lies to the American people, Speaker Pelosi has decided to proceed with the partisan coup attempt against President Trump,” he stated. “The Democrats in Congress should be ashamed of themselves. They are using impeachment as means to try and nullify the 2016 election and erase the votes of almost 63 million Americans just because of their pathetic hatred of our president.”

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“In her statement, Speaker Pelosi cited our Founding Fathers and declared no one is above the law,” Rogers continued. “I am curious if she ever asked that question about Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden?”

The east Alabama congressman outlined a few of the important priorities Democrats are ignoring to instead conduct this “coup attempt.”

“Instead of working on behalf of the American people by passing a bipartisan Defense Authorization bill, USMCA or a full year spending bill, Nancy Pelosi has fully surrendered all control of the House to the Socialist horde running the Democratic Party,” Rogers concluded. “Their shameful action today casts a stain on our Constitution. The American people will remember their despicable behavior next November. I will continue to stand and defend President Trump.”

Former independent prosecutor Ken Starr, best known for leading the investigation into then-President Bill Clinton that resulted in his impeachment, appeared on Fox News Channel on Thursday and decried Pelosi’s decision as an “abuse of power.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Alabama Power, C Spire announce broadband partnership coming to Birmingham area

BIRMINGHAM — More broadband services will soon be coming to Alabamians in the Birmingham metropolitan area, including parts of Shelby County, thanks to Alabama Power Company and C Spire.

At a Thursday press conference at Regions Field, a new partnership was announce between the two companies similar to one they announced in Jasper last month.

Alabama Power’s existing fiber infrastructure will be used for what is called “the middle mile,” while C Spire will in some areas build out “the last mile,” which is an industry term meaning the final portion connecting the service to a consumer’s residence or business (the length is not always a mile or even close to it — it can be a matter of feet or several miles).

Executives from both companies attended the press conference, along with Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper), Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and Jasper Mayor David O’Mary.

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Tony Smoke, Birmingham division vice president for Alabama Power, said that even though the company itself is not the broadband service provider, Alabama Power is proud to be able to help bring the service to their customers — as “customers are at the center” of everything they do.

“We are thrilled to welcome C Spire to Birmingham and other parts of our state,” Smoke stated, saying being able to provide this type of positive economic impact “is what we’re all about.”

“We are committed to communities across our state,” he emphasized, explaining that even in northern areas of Alabama where the company does not provide electric services, Alabama Power still actively helps with economic development projects. “We do this because we care about Alabama. Our employees are in these cities, are in these communities. They live there. So, this kind of project … is huge for our employees, huge for our communities. We are proud and honored to serve in that role.”

“It may be a pun, but we do believe that fiber infrastructure helps us have better connections with our communities and makes our communities stronger,” he added.

This type of partnership, in which a broadband provider can utilize an electric utility’s existing infrastructure and right-of-ways, was made possible through legislation championed by the likes of the Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition this past session — HB 400, which was sponsored by State Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Cullman) and championed by Reed. Additionally, SB 90 was passed to expand eligibility for and update a state grant program for broadband expansion.

“I’m proud of the role we played in creating this opportunity for Alabama communities,” Reed said. “But I am even prouder of the partnerships that we have forged with C Spire, Alabama Power and others and the investment they are making in our state. That investment will pay dividends for consumers and businesses.”

He emphasized the importance of high-speed internet access to the present and future success of the state.

“If Alabama is going to be everything we want her to be economically, we must include all the areas of our state in that boon — in that opportunity and that growth,” Reed stressed. “And as we’ve seen Alabama’s economy be super strong, it is not as strong in certain urban areas, it is not as strong in some rural areas. And some of the reason [for that] is because we don’t have internet services … it’s a must for us to be able to move Alabama forward.”

Reed and O’Mary both touched on the fact that while Jasper is certainly a very different size and type of city than Birmingham, they are bonded together because they both face a “digital divide.”

Woodfin explained that while many people assume all of the City of Birmingham has ideal internet access, that is simply not the case. Reed reiterated this and said this applies to other larger population centers across the state, as well as more rural areas.

“You would think in certain areas of the state where you have [interstate] highways and the like, that there would be easy access to the internet superhighway. That’s not always the case,” Reed commented.

“As I’ve said before, no matter where they live, every single student, family, worker and business owner in Alabama should have access to fast, reliable internet that allows them to thrive in the 21st-century economy,” he added. “It’s through partnerships like this one that we are working to make that a reality.”

C Spire is a privately-held Mississippi-based telecommunications and technology company, with no affiliation with the gas company Spire. C Spire’s president and CEO Hu Meena spoke during the press conference and with members of the media after the event.

Meena encouraged other municipal leaders from across the Birmingham area and Alabama as a whole to reach out to them to express their desire to have the company come in and offer broadband services.

The company will offer all-fiber Gigabit speed broadband internet access and related services to homes and businesses in Alabama beginning in 2020, and Meena stressed that exact service locations and timelines will primarily be determined by customer demand. Meena said another announcement will be coming on how municipal leaders — and potential customers — can express their interest in the services.

“Today is a big day in the life of our company,” Meena stated. “While we’ve had a presence in southern Alabama (Mobile) for decades and our Alabama headquarters are here in the Birmingham area, we plan to make our all-fiber broadband services available to homes and businesses across the state next year.”

C Spire is looking for areas of Alabama enthusiastic about broadband services, similar to the high level of interest expressed by both O’Mary and Woodfin.

“The communities that want this game-changing infrastructure and services the most will get it first,” Meena explained.

Woodfin certainly showed his enthusiasm during his speech, as well as beforehand — energetically making his way throughout the standing-room-only crowd and thanking seemingly each and every person for attending.

“This is a great investment in the future of Birmingham and our metro area,” Woodfin said at the podium.

The Magic City mayor delivered powerful remarks on how important high-speed broadband services are to not just the modern digital economy but to quality of life in general — as well as other areas like education.

“In Birmingham, we are committed to creating an inclusive economy that provides the best opportunities in education, workforce development and entrepreneurship for everyone,” Woodfin advised, noting that technology investment and broadband infrastructure by C Spire are critical to the city’s economic future.

Reed added that especially in rural areas, broadband is increasingly important for healthcare through telemedicine.

“The city of Birmingham has always been a city of builders,” Woodfin concluded, saying that this partnership in building out fiber infrastructure is just the latest example.

For more information about C Spire’s broadband plans in Alabama, click here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn