The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather


    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower


    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships


    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

1 year ago

Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn: What a difference a week makes

(Auburn Football, Alabama Football/Contributed, YHN)

Think back for a moment, if you will. Think back to the middle of last week, where all was right in Tuscaloosa and all was, well, on edge in Auburn.

Crimson Tide fans were confident about their team taking care of business in the Iron Bowl and once again watching their beloved head coach lead Bama into the College Football Playoffs. Auburn fans were hoping for the best — after all, the Iron Bowl was at Jordan-Hare Stadium and the Tigers were facing an Alabama team with a back-up quarterback. Still, many of the Auburn faithful had their head coach in mind — a coach, they thought, who could be a goner if he lost to the Tide.

Fast forward to today … whoa!

The coach they call “The GOAT” has been taking heat from national pundits, while Gus Malzahn is off the hot seat and relishing in the fact that he has beaten Nick Saban two of the last three years. Malzahn should be proud, as he’s the only active coach in the SEC who has beaten Saban more than once — in fact, Malzahn is 3-4 overall against the Alabama coach.


Why the criticism of the man thought by millions to be the greatest coach in college football history?

Some national media talking heads feel the Nick Saban dynasty is starting to crumble. ESPN’s Paul Finebaum has been very critical of the coach on the network’s many platforms this week. Now, before you scream to yourself, “Who cares what that scrawny pencil-necked geek who has never played a down of football thinks?” I’m here to tell you that skinny Finebaum carries a lot of weight. His opinions are often peppered with inside info and truths that indeed pan out.

So, buy into Paul’s statements or discard them completely if you must, but here is what Finebaum said on ESPN: “We’re not saying that Saban is done, but we’re saying that this dynasty’s window is closing. It’s been a really disappointing season. He’s lost two of the last three to Clemson and now he’s lost two of the last three to Auburn. … He promised after a 28-point loss to Clemson that the Alabama factor would be re-established. Has anyone seen it? There’s no discipline … defense is where the problem is. The team against the last three top-20 opponents has given up 44, 46 and 48 points. That’s not the Alabama team I’m accustomed to.”

Paul certainly raises some good points. Perhaps you can liken the situation to fishing: when I catch a fish, I consider it luck; when I catch two fish very quickly, I consider it a pattern. Is there a pattern to Alabama’s recent setbacks? One pattern? To Paul’s point: against the last four top-20 opponents, the Crimson Tide defense has surrendered 34 points (Oklahoma), 44 points (Clemson), 46 points (LSU) and 48 points (Auburn). Does this mean the Bama dynasty is ending? Well, not so fast, Paul!

In our “what have you done for me lately?” world, let’s discuss what Nick Saban has done lately — say, over the last five years. Over that span, Saban is 65-6 — he’s played in four national championship games and won two of them. In fact, he’s won five of the last 10. This season is actually the first time since the playoffs began six years ago that Bama has failed to make the playoffs. It’s also the first time in six years that Bama has lost more than one game. Like I told a Bama fan the other day: “Man, you people lose two games and you want to drive your car into a ditch.”

Where Finebaum sees a pattern, I see a single football season that saw the Crimson Tide lose two games by a total of eight points — that as injuries plagued the team, from the pre-season departure of Dylan Moses to the departure a few weeks ago of Tua Tagovailoa. Are you a Bama fan? Sleep well tonight, because your team, and your coach, are just fine.

Now on to Gus Malzahn, a man who falling asleep doesn’t count sheep but rather counts X’s and O’s. The coach’s mind is full of more knowledge than you can imagine: a self-professed football nerd, if this man was your 8th-grade classmate, you’d be asking him if he could take your algebra test for you.

So how does this quiet and at times aloof head coach keep getting off the mat just when you think his days are numbered? With drive, with brilliance and with some Jordan-Hare Stadium magic, where he has beaten Saban in three of the last four meetings at home. When the Iron Bowl is played at Jordan-Hare Stadium, anything can, and usually does, happen. Example: 2013? The Prayer in Jordan-Hare followed by the Kick Six. 2017? Just when the heat was on, Malzahn beat Georgia and then Bama to grab a spot in the SEC Championship Game. And 2019? How about a pair of pick-sixes, an effective offense that we have not seen this season and a spot-on field goal kicker?

For all of Gus Malzahn’s critics, the blue-collar, “us against the world coach” comes up big just when he needs it most. And while those critics point to Malzahn’s predictable play-calling, his refusal to change his offensive philosophy and his smoke and mirror formations which they say mask a talent base that is not up to snuff, Malzahn continues to walk his fans back from the ledge with clutch victories.

Auburn fans will tell you that watching football can be harmful to the heart because the team’s ups and downs certainly mess with the blood pressure. But after a win like Tiger fans witnessed last weekend, they’ll take it, and look forward to the next game that the Tigers play. And their coach? Let Saban eat at Ruth’s Chris, Gus eats at Waffle House.

Who’da thunk it? Nick Saban knocked off his throne, while Gus Malzahn wears the Iron Bowl crown. What’s next? Bowl games for both teams and then preparations for the 2020 college football season. What’s on tap for next season? If you root for Bama, I wouldn’t count on the team’s success drying up. And if you root for Auburn? That team’s success is not drying up, but rather warming up.

I’m not sure what we will see from these coaches next season, but I do know this about 2019: what a difference a week makes!

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

From a spoiled fan: Why I won’t be glued to the SEC Championship Game

(Pixabay, YHN)

I am a creature of habit, and I’m all out sorts.

You see, prior to the beginning of every year, I mark the first Saturday of December on my calendar. For 10 of the last 11  years, I have traveled to Atlanta to cover the SEC Championship football game. For me and most of you, it’s been almost automatic: plan on watching the Crimson Tide or the Auburn Tigers play an eastern division team for — most often — a spot in the BCS Championship Game or, over the last several years, the College Football Playoff.

This week, however, my brain is frazzled; for only the second time since 2008, a team other than Alabama or Auburn will appear in the big game.

What’s a super fan who roots for Alabama and Auburn this time of year do now? I think this Saturday I may be buying a Christmas tree.


Now, before you LSU and Georgia fans go off, let me say that what your teams have done this season is downright impressive, and this weekend’s game has all the makings of a good one. Your teams feature superb quarterbacks, explosive offenses and battle-tested defenses. But I have to tell you, for this spoiled fan — a fan who has seen either the Tide or Tigers win eight of the last 10 SEC Championships, it’s just not the same.

Over the 27 years of the SEC Championship Game’s existence, it’s been a Tide and Tigers lovefest: Bama won four of the first five championship games, and over the first 10 games, Auburn or Alabama won seven of them. Fast forward to the last decade, where the Tide or the Tigers have won eight of the last 10 — in fact the Crimson Tide has won six of the last 10 and four of the last five.

It’s not only the wins by both teams that I have enjoyed, but the way our hometown teams have won games. In fact, many of those Alabama and Auburn wins have etched satisfying memories into the minds of the home folks. In 2009, Tebow cried. In 2010, Cam attacked, and just last fall, Jalen was a hero … again. I have to tell you, a SEC Championship Game without the Tide or the Tigers feels a bit like a McDonald’s shake without the whipped cream — tasty, but incomplete (of course, that is if the shake machine is actually working).

To what degree have the Tide and the Tigers dominated their SEC Championship Game appearances? The last time LSU was in the game (2011), many of the current Bayou Bengals players were seven years old. And Georgia? The Dawgs will play in the championship game for the third year in a row, looking for their second win in the last three years — I say kudos to Kirby!

There are huge ramifications in this weekend’s game, especially for the Georgia Bulldogs, as a loss means their College Football Playoff hopes will be over. The pageantry will, as usual, be lit (that’s the hipness in me talking, my friend), and the telecast will achieve blockbuster ratings. But from where I sit, something is missing without the Tide or the Tigers heading to Atlanta.

If you do plan to watch the game, enjoy it, as it should be a good one. As for me? While the Bulldogs and the Tigers will hope to receive an early Christmas present, I’ll be trying to get my new Christmas tree into that dang Christmas tree stand. That, my friend, is always an adventure.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

This Crimson Tide fan puts everything in perspective

(Dana Sanders/Contributed, YHN)

Are you a University of Alabama football fan who may be feeling a bit down in the dumps after Saturday’s Iron Bowl? Before you answer that question, let me introduce you to Jason Sanders of Utica, MS; in a family chock full of LSU fans, Jason absolutely loves his Crimson Tide — he’s been rooting for Bama since he was a tyke (it seems some of his teachers, big Bama fans, had an effect on him).

This past Saturday, Jason was a bundle of nerves. Every time Auburn scored, Jason would drop his head. Every time Bama scored, he would release his pent up energy by rolling around the house and then back in front of the TV before yelling, “Praise the Lord.” And when the final seconds of the game came and went, the teenager with Cerebral Palsy looked at his dad, Dana Sanders, and said, “Well, I guess that’s it … now what’s next?”

You see, for all of his 14 years, Jason Sanders has lived by the words, “What’s next?”


When he needed to adapt to a new wheelchair, he’d say, “What’s next?” When he came out of recent hip surgery, he said, “What’s next?” And when his favorite team lost to Auburn, he said, “What’s next?”

Jason Sanders lives a full life; he hunts with his dad and enjoys time with his parents, Dana and Adrian, along with his brothers, Nathan and David. And when things get tough? Jason simply solves the problem and follows it up with a “What’s next?”

Are you a Bama fan who may be feeling a bit down in the dumps after Saturday’s Iron Bowl? Perhaps you can look to the young man from Mississippi who does not judge, does not hold grudges and holds no ill will toward anyone — a young man who despite his challenges, is a positive ball of energy. Perhaps you can look to the young man who loves Alabama football and gospel music — a young man who will be celebrating his 15th birthday on Tuesday.

We, of course, all wish Jason a happy birthday, and we all move into the work week by asking ourselves not what was, but rather, what’s next? If Jason Sanders can’t motivate us, no one can. Thanks, Jason, for setting us straight. It’s a blessing that we are all learning from you.

Editor’s note: Dana Sanders responded to Rick Karle’s story about Jason, which originally came in a Facebook post:

Dana Sanders wrote, “Rick, you nailed it sir… As Jason’s dad I am supposed to be the example… however I find myself wanting to be more like him. Jason is our gift from the Giver of Gifts. Thank you Lord, Dana Sanders, Jason’s Dad!”

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Rick Karle: A letter to Pat Sullivan, from everyone

Auburn's 1971 Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan received a special award from the Heisman Trust for "Recognition of Your Dedication and Contribution to the Game of Football" on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018 at the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club. (Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

Dear Pat,

We hope you don’t mind if we take a few minutes to tell you how much you mean to us. In the coming days, I know that many will be speaking about your class and your courage, and we’re honored to be among them.

When we heard the news, our heart sank. It was early Sunday morning when you closed your eyes and went to the Lord. And while we know that you must be busy getting reacquainted with old coaches, friends and family members in your new home, we want to remind you what you meant to us here on earth.

It’s hard to believe that is was fifty years ago that you starred in football, basketball and baseball at John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham. We always knew that you had big things ahead — and you took your special talents to Auburn, a college you picked over Alabama, Notre Dame and many others.

We always knew that while you were setting records at Auburn, your heart melted when that young lady named Jean Hicks was in your presence. And you knew that Jean was special — that’s why the two of you were married halfway through college.


The kind of man that you were was evident in 1971: after receiving a call that you had won the Heisman Trophy, you told the folks in New York that you would not travel to Manhattan to receive the award when they requested, telling them that Thanksgiving weekend was for family. Of course you gladly went to New York the following weekend and picked up your trophy while making one of the classiest acceptance speeches ever.

Pat, if you only knew how many people feel blessed to have known you — how many lives were enriched because of you: your former NFL teammates, your former players when you were an assistant coach at Auburn and UAB and a head coach at TCU and Samford are better men because of you.

Yet, after all of those years as a football player and coach; Birmingham businessman and civic leader; husband and father; the best example of your class and resilience began in 2003.

You told us last summer that you wouldn’t wish your daily struggles on anyone but made sure to finish by saying, “I’m blessed.” Sixteen years of fighting the effects of throat cancer drained your body but never drained your spirit. You didn’t complain, you didn’t mope, you simply fought the fight like not many could.

We want you to know that while we are mourning, we are also hopeful — hopeful that you can breath again, hopeful that you are no longer in pain and hopeful that you realize the number of those who loved you.

I imagine that you are worried about Jean. Allow us to remind you that Jean is surrounded by your three beautiful children, Kim, Kelly and Pat. And your grandchildren? While they are heartbroken, they know that you are in a special place. Kisses and hugs from Alex, Jay, Mallory, Joseph, Taylor, Lucy, John Michael and Claire will come your way daily until you are reunited. And Darryl DuBose, your longtime medical assistant who for years stood by your side? His life will forever be enriched by knowing you.

We’re already missing you terribly, Pat. But we want you to know that every once in a while, God sends us a gift, and often times our lives get so busy that we forget about that a special person is among us. Auburn fans and college football fans everywhere know that YOU were that gift.

Hold down the fort until we see you again our friend, and remember that our lives have been blessed with you in it. Despite our sadness, we are comforted in knowing that Heaven has gained an angel.



Note: *I was honored to be chosen by Pat and Jean last April to produce and edit Pat’s public service announcement for “Oral Cancer Awareness Week.” Pat wanted to leave a legacy of, among many other things, championing the fight against cancer.
I know that Pat would want you to hear his message, so I’ve included the spot below:

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

A former Bama football star and his Auburn wife: How love won out

Roger and Paige Shultz with their son Ivan (Contributed)

The colors orange and blue make his blood pressure rise. The words “War Eagle” make him queasy. And an Iron Bowl win by the Tigers make him question his reason for living.

Why? He’s a former University of Alabama center who played for Bill Curry and Gene Stallings. He’s a two-time All-SEC lineman, and he’s one of the most beloved Crimson Tide football players in the program’s history.

Yet the love of his life — the woman who gave him a son — the kind, smart, funny person whom he has called his wife since 2001 is… yes … an Auburn grad!

We’ve all heard of Tide and Tigers’ “mixed marriages,” as Alabama and Auburn fans often show the world that such a partnership can work. But a former Bama star football player marrying an Aubie? Oh, the horror! How did this come to be? This the story of Roger Shultz and his wife Paige: two down-to-earth, normal folks who every day remind us that love can win, even over the most heated rivalry in all of college sports.


If there is a former Bama football star who is one of us, Roger Shultz is that man. He’s not Fred Astaire but rather Fred Flintstone. Roger is not a Renaissance man but rather a restaurant man. Roger will never offer you tickets to the opera, but he will pick up the tab if you meet him at Buffalo Wild Wings for some wings and a few beers. Ask him what his favorite food is, and he will tell you, “Any Chinese Buffet.” In fact, for years, Roger has been on a Seafood diet: he sees food and he eats it. My point is that Roger is a common man with a great heart, and that heart is why he’s a Bama fan’s favorite.

So how did it happen? How did this man who bleeds Crimson fall in love with a woman who has family members who were among the first students at Auburn University?

Roger, who played at Alabama from 1986 to 1990, found himself working at a Montgomery radio station in 1999. Paige’s sister-in-law, who worked with Roger, asked Shultzy if he’d be interested in taking Paige to a cotillion. Being the romantic that he was, Roger told the woman that he wasn’t interested in paying for a tux and taking a blind date to a fancy party, but he’d love to take Paige to a high school football banquet (like I said, a real romantic). Paige agreed, and off went the couple to the banquet. Something magical then happened: Paige loved every minute of it, and better yet, Roger’s players from Sidney Lanier High School took to Paige. Cue the stars and fireworks, as an Alabama-Auburn couple was formed! Paige adored Roger’s humor, and Roger adored Paige’s smarts — in fact Paige not only had a degree from Auburn, but a Masters degree in environmental science from Samford University, a degree Roger didn’t know how to spell. And wouldn’t you figure? On that first date, Roger picked up Paige in his red Ford Probe (Roll Tide!). What did Paige drive that year? A blue Ford Probe (War Eagle!). Was this a sign?

Oh, the relationship was a process; after all, the first Alabama-Auburn sporting event Roger and Paige attended was a basketball game. Roger soon learned that his girlfriend absolutely adored those Auburn Tigers — Roger knew right then that this partnership would take some work. And you know something? Work it did, as Paige began to learn that her boyfriend’s kind heart and sense of humor were something to behold. Wasn’t Roger the same Bama player who, after his Crimson Tide beat Tennessee for a fifth straight time, told the media in Knoxville back in 1990, “We should have to pay taxes up here because we own the place!”? Yep, that was Roger. And Roger’s adventures were just warming up.

The year was 2008, and Roger and Paige had been married for seven years — their son Ivan was six years old. Roger had an idea: How about he audition for the network TV show, “The Biggest Loser?” After all, he could stand to lose a few. For Roger, dropping a few pounds was like throwing a suitcase off the Titanic — he needed a bigger challenge: welcoming the pressure a national TV show would bring would certainly motivate him. Roger not only made it to the national stage, he welcomed world-famous trainer Bob Harper pushing him. And what a result: as the nation watched, Roger lost 164 pounds, finished as the 2008 runner-up and saw America fall in love with his larger than life personality.

Yet, Roger wasn’t done.

“The Biggest Loser” star would soon appear on “Oprah” and “The Jay Leno Show.” The common man would also find himself appearing on “The Price Is Right,” where he actually won a chair and a year’s supply of cold sore cream. I’m here to tell you that those are two absolutely perfect prizes for Roger. Sure, he was a Bammer, but how could Paige not love this man?

Today at 52, the former Alabama football star walks with a slight limp, his dues to football paid. This weekend, Roger and Paige will enjoy watching the Iron Bowl from their home in Mobile. The catch? They will be watching the game in separate rooms. You see, despite 18 years of wedded bliss, the Iron Bowl can still do that to a couple. And when the game ends? Regardless of the outcome, the couple will fix some dinner while holding their tongues. Yes, a former Alabama football star can marry an Auburn grad, and that mixed marriage can succeed.


Regardless for which team you root, enjoy Saturday’s Iron Bowl. If the Tigers win, send along a “War Eagle” to Paige, and if Bama wins, send along a “Roll Tide” and a few beers to Roger: two down-home neighbors who are proving that in the midst of the Tide and Tigers rivalry, love is winning out.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

UA Athletics play-by-play announcer Chris Stewart released from hospital day before Thanksgiving

(UA Athletics)

It’s a heartwarming story that will bring tears to your eyes, and I bring it to you just in time for Thanksgiving. Chris Stewart is back home after spending nearly four months in a Birmingham hospital.

Chris, a University of Alabama Athletics Department play-by-play announcer who calls men’s basketball, Crimson Tide football and baseball (he also hosts the Nick Saban TV show) is feeling blessed to be alive — and now, Chris and his wife, Christy, have agreed to share their story with you: It’s a story of faith, hope and resilience.


Back in April of 2018, Chris suffered a stroke; his wife found Chris unresponsive at their home, and he was rushed to a hospital.

After a year of hard work and rehab, Chris was looking forward to returning to work just in time for the start of this football season. It was not to be, as Chris would find himself undergoing heart bypass surgery a few months ago in August. Only a few weeks later, Chris was readmitted to an area hopsital with pneumomnia and an infection, which soon caused kidney failure. And there was more — doctors decided to put Chris in a medically induced coma and placed him on a ventilator.

As Christy and the couple’s three children prayed at his side, unthinkable thoughts were overcoming them. Then something amazing happened: Chris started to climb back. Oh, he would remain hospitalized for two more months, but he was alive. Chris was soon transferred to Spain Rehab Center where he has spent the last three weeks.

And now the really good news: On Wednesdsay, the day before Thanksgiving, Chris was released from the hospital.

As he gingerly walked up his front porch steps, Chris was greeted by his children — Parker, Hudson and Anne — who had seen him only a few times over the last several months (minors were not allowed in intensive care).


What’s next for Chris? Time spent with Christy and more outpatient rehab. Chris says we can look for him getting back to work come January, just in time for him to call Bama basketball games as SEC play begins.

As we all enjoy Thanksgiving with our families, let’s send our best wishes to Chris and his family.

I know that Thanksgiving Day will be a day the Stewart family will never forget!

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Rick Karle: We could sure use more Aniah Blanchards in this world

(Angela Haley-Harris/Contributed, PIxabay, YHN)

I want to bring you a story that you have never heard — a beautiful story sent to me by Jeff Cantrell, the Ramsay High School softball coach. It’s the story of a Homewood High School star athlete, a star athlete who made a real difference.

A few years ago, Ramsay faced powerful Homewood High School in a big local softball game. While the young Ramsay players fought hard, they still lost to Homewood by three runs.

As players from both teams gathered for the post-game prayer, one of the stars on the winning Homewood team stood up to address the Ramsay players.


That Homewood star said, “Before we pray, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your hard work and the improvement you have made since last year. You guys have never played us this close! I’m proud of all of you.”

The Homewood star who encouraged the losing team, the Homewood star who comforted the Ramsay players, the Homewood star to whom those Ramsay players will forever be grateful, was a young lady named Aniah Blanchard.

What Aniah Blanchard brought to this world will never be forgotten by her cross-town rivals. Now it will never be forgotten by any of us.

We sure can use a lot more like her.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

‘The Road Ahead,’ Iron Bowl edition: Crunching the numbers


Are you as excited as I am? Of course you are!

The 2019 Iron Bowl is only days away, and if you are like me, you are playing the big game over and over in your mind in a futile effort to determine how the game will turn out. Of course if we knew that, we’d all be rich!

One way to bolster our arguments about which team will win is to look into the numbers: The Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers rank very high in many categories in those national statistical rankings. I thought I’d throw some of those stats your way as to better educate us on the strengths and weaknesses of both teams.

Before you watch the big game, hop on board as I bring you “The Road Ahead,” Iron Bowl edition. Let’s crunch some numbers and see where these teams shake out.



Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Rick Karle: Who’s feeling the Iron Bowl pressure?


It won’t be long now!

With all due respect to Saturday’s Tide and Tigers games, the road ahead is all about the Iron Bowl — and oh, how that game looks different than it did a week ago.


If the Bama players and coaches thought that the Auburn Tigers were going to make the game interesting before Tua Tagovailoa’s injury, what must they be feeling now? Certainly, Tide quarterback Mac Jones is a fine player (he, in fact, could pick up his first signature win with a victory over Auburn), but I think that you will agree that he is not Tua.

So then, what player or coach from each team is feeling the most pressure going into the big game? It’s all connected to the College Football Playoff (Alabama) and job security (Auburn).

Hop on board and allow me to offer up two men who will look to win out over the pressure and the importance of the 2019 Iron Bowl!


Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Tua needs our support — Guess who else does

(ESPN/YouTube, Alabama Football/Facebook, YHN)

His five words hit home.

Five words that could have been uttered by a Tua Tagovailoa teammate, one of Tua’s parents, an Alabama football fan and, yes, you.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”


Who doesn’t feel bad for one of the greatest quarterbacks not only in Alabama football history, but in college football history? Barring an unlikely return to the Capstone for his senior season, Tua is done in Tuscaloosa. The good news? While it will be a long road, team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lyle Cain expects Tagovailoa to make a full recovery from the hip injury suffered only days ago. Yes, Tua’s NFL future is bright.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”

Those five words could have been uttered by anyone, but the man who said it? Head coach Nick Saban. Yes, the tough, demanding, intimidating coach who rarely reveals his most inner thoughts is hurting, and he shared his heart in Tuscaloosa at his weekly media gathering.

Over the last few days, Saban has been a punching bag for many critics and some fans — their take? The coach is to be blamed for Tua’s injury. After all, they say, it was Saban who had the final say in whether or not his quarterback, still sore from the LSU game and a player who 27 days earlier had ankle surgery, would start against Mississippi State. It was Saban who left Tua in the game despite a big Bama lead deep into the first half of the game. It was Saban who is ultimately responsible for the injury, they allege.

I say hogwash. I say that Nick Saban didn’t hurt Tua, football did.

The bottom line here is that Tua Tagovailoa could have suffered an injury getting off the bus. He could have been injured on his first snap, his final snap or anywhere in between. That’s the cruel sport of football, where injuries occur, even when they are not in the least connected to an earlier injury.

As Tua now begins rehab following Monday’s hip surgery, prayers and well wishes continue to come his way. But I’m here to tell you that Tua’s coach could use some support as well. On the exterior, Nick Saban is all business, the man in charge. He spends long hours at work between 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. doing what he does. But you can bet that when the coach makes his long, dark drive home late at night, when he tries to fall asleep and when he rises early in the morning, Tua Tagovailoa is on his mind. Is he second-guessing himself? If he is, he shouldn’t be. Do the critics bother him? Remember, even the toughest man on the block has feelings.

Only Nick Saban, Miss Terry and a handful of close friends know what the coach is feeling. As we see a coach who is all business, a coach who has a tough exterior and a no-nonsense flare, I have a strong feeling that Nick Saban is struggling a bit this week. My message? As we pray for Tua and wish him well, perhaps the Alabama football coach can also use our support.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”

With those five words, Nick Saban offered us a rare glimpse into his heart. May the Alabama family be reminded that the head of the family can use a few prayers as well.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Shaun Alexander’s moving message to Tua Tagovailoa speaks to all of us

(Shaun Alexander/Twitter)

He will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in Alabama Crimson Tide football history, yet he came and went in a flash.

A long weekend has reminded us how fleeting joy can be — after all, “2nd and 26” was just 20 months ago. Yet, it seems that Tua Tagovailoa would be around longer. Can you believe that he was the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback for less than two seasons? Barring a return to the Capstone for his senior season (Tua is still expected to turn pro next spring despite the hip injury suffered days ago), Tua will never play another down of football for the Tide.

How many times have we heard it? You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.


Over the last few days, college football fans across America have been appreciating Tua, not only for his football talents, but for his decency, faith and kindness. Oh, Tua has had plenty of reasons to be cocky: He owns the school record for career touchdown passes (85) and the school record for most touchdowns accounted for (94). He has thrown 31 touchdown passes this season and he’s ranked third on the school’s all-time total passing yardage list. Yet Tua Tagovailoa, a mere 21-years-old, remains humble, as he now recovers from his second surgery of the season.

We are more alike than we are different, and I have a feeling that, like me, you don’t want it to end. Regardless of which team you root for, college football was better with Tua taking snaps each and every football season. His pinpoint passing, his team leadership and his positive attitude made us all feel better, and after “2nd and 26,” you knew that when Tua was about to take the snap, you couldn’t take your eyes off the game.

In the days following Tua’s most recent injury, I have been reminded that this young man will go down in Crimson Tide history as one of the most loved Bama men ever: Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Jay Barker, Gene Stallings, Shaun Alexander, Jalen Hurts, Ken Stabler, Coach Bryant, Nick Saban, Mark Ingram, Amari Cooper, Lee Roy Jordan, Harry Gilmer, Ozzie Newsome, John Hannah, Derrick Henry, Demeco Ryans, Bobby Humphrey, Derrick Thomas, Julio Jones — the list goes on. And I’m here to tell you that you can now add Tua Tagovailoa to the list, as he’s a leading candidate to be ranked in the top-five of favorite Bama players ever.

As a new week is now upon us, it’s time to encourage healing rather than blame coaches — and we can all learn from a Bama football legend who has put it all in context.

Former Crimson Tide running back Shaun Alexander, who has faced pain in his own life (he and his wife Valerie lost their 70-day-old daughter Torah in May of 2017), is sending positive thoughts Tua’s way. While Shaun’s faith has helped him deal with his own setback, the 2005 NFL MVP has sent his own message to Tua via Twitter, and it’s a heartfelt message that speaks for all of us.

Shaun said, “My confidence in life is not about my gifts, abilities, awards or accomplishments. My confidence comes from my faith in Jesus. His plan is perfect. Every part of the plan is PERFECT. Love you, Tuaman. Walk through this like you was built to. Finish the Game. A legend is being made.”

It doesn’t get any better than that, my friend! From one legend to another, Shaun Alexander has reminded us all that life is about more than football, motivating Tua while speaking from the heart.

When great things come into our lives, we want more — and I have to be honest, I want more of Tua Tagovailoa. Could Tua decide to return for his senior season? Yes, he could, but I have a feeling that we will see Tua in the NFL next fall. Until then, let’s heed Shaun Alexander’s advice. One of the greatest players in Crimson Tide football history is likely finished playing college football. Let’s remember the southpaw gunslinger as a better person than he is a football player. For that, we are all grateful.

RELATED: Shaun Alexander on life, love and loss — ‘We will see her again, worshiping God together’

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Legendary owner of Bessemer’s Bright Star restaurant, Jimmy Koikos, passes away

(Contributed: Koikos family)

I have sad news to share with you: Our friends at The Bright Star restaurant have confirmed that longtime owner Jimmy Koikos has passed away at the age of 81.

Bob Carlton was one of the first to report Jimmy’s passing.

Jimmy, who has been fighting a cancer diagnosis for months, was born in Bessemer. For over six decades, Jimmy, together with his brother, Nicky, brought thousands of satisfied diners great food and hospitality.

A University of Alabama grad, Jimmy could count the likes of Coach Bryant, Gene Stallings, Joe Namath, Nick Saban, Sandra Bullock and hundreds of others as his good friends.

Still, Jimmy treated every one of his customers with respect and kindness, as for years he reminded us how to treat one another.


On behalf of my extended family and patrons throughout America, I bring the Koikos family my heartfelt condolences.

RELATED: The Bright Star, Alabama’s oldest restaurant, still shines

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Auburn vs. Georgia: Will Tigers fans be partying like it’s 2017?


We’re just hours away! The biggest game this weekend in college football should be a wild one, as the world of the College Football Playoffs will run through Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Say what?

The Auburn Tigers are nowhere near the top four teams in the latest rankings. Yet today’s result will have a domino affect on what teams will enter the playoffs and what teams won’t. Possibly affected by this game? Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, Baylor, Oklahoma and, yes, perhaps even Auburn (the Tigers are hoping that if the dominos fall correctly, Auburn could become the first two-loss team to make the playoffs).

So then, how will it all play out this afternoon? How will the rest of the season go for Malzahn’s crew?


Let me guess: You don’t think Auburn will beat Georgia, and you believe there is a lesser chance that the Tigers will top Alabama. You also figure it’s 50-50 that Malzahn will return in 2020. Well, I have news for you, and to make my point, I need only to take you back two years to the 2017 football season.

The mood in the Auburn family was a bit sour. While Auburn headed into the Georgia game with two losses (a six-point loss at #3 Clemson and a four-point loss at LSU), Tiger fans were less-than-confident as they fretted over the big games against the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide. Throw in an underlining uncertainty about the team’s head coach, and expectations were not, shall we say, healthy.

And then it happened: Gus Malzahn, as he often does when his back is against the wall, slammed second-ranked Georgia 40-17. Two weeks later, the Gus Bus wasn’t done, as it rolled over top-ranked Alabama 26-14. Malzahn’s seat cooled off so quickly that he would soon be handed a lucrative contract extension that turned his deal into a 7-year, $49 million contract. Yep, that’s what happens when you beat the nation’s top two teams in a span of two weeks.

Don’t look now, but the 2019 Auburn Tigers enter today’s game in much the same situation: The Tigers have two losses: an 11-point setback to then 11th-ranked Florida, and a three-point loss to #1 LSU. And the fan’s faith in Gus? I refer back to the 2017 season before the Georgia game.

If you are not buying into the thought that the Tigers will beat Georgia today, I offer the following: Bo Nix is unbeaten at home this season. Gus Malzahn is 8-0 in his career coming off a bye week. And seemingly every time that Malzahn seems to be down for the count, he gets back up off the canvas and delivers a knockout blow. Whether it’s crazy endings like 2013’s Prayer At Jordan-Hare and the Kick Six, or good, sound football down through Amen Corner in 2017, Malzahn thrives on being the underdog.

Will Gus Malzahn and the Tigers win today’s heavyweight fight? We all know that it could go either way. But I continue to get this overwhelming feeling that by about 6:30 tonight, Toomer’s Corner will be hopping, where the Auburn family will be partying like it’s 2017.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

University of Alabama signee Peter Berry’s story one of tragedy, triumph

(Mark Berman/Twitter)

This is a story about tragedy and triumph, a story about loss and love.

It’s a story that perhaps hasn’t received a lot of local attention, but it’s a story that needs to be told, as it’s a story about perseverance, strength and determination. A warning: If you are not holding a tissue, find one ASAP.

As thousands of high school athletes signed college scholarships on Wednesday, the University of Alabama Athletics Department reeled in the top recruit in America. However, this signee is not a football player, but rather the top high school wheelchair basketball player in the nation — and the story of Houston’s Peter Berry is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring.


Eight years ago, Josh and Robin Berry were returning home with their three kids from a Colorado vacation. Suddenly, lives were lost and lives were changed, as Josh and Robin were instantly killed in a head-on crash on a Texas highway. Peter, then nine-years-old, and his brother Aaron, then eight-years old, were paralyzed from the waist down, and their sister, Willa, was seriously injured.

Somehow, someway, the kids carved out their lives after being taken in by their uncle and aunt: Matt and Simone Berry.

And as Peter tried to move on, something special would overcome him: A love for wheelchair basketball. The sport not only helped him cope, but it helped him turn into America’s top prep wheelchair player.

On Wednesday, Peter signed with UA, and now Peter Berry has another family that loves him — the Alabama family, as he joins one of the top wheelchair basketball teams in the nation.

Let me be one of the first to welcome Peter to Tuscaloosa. His drive, his determination and his love for his family is to be admired.

If you see Peter on campus next fall, be sure to welcome him to Tuscaloosa and give him a big “Roll Tide.” I know that you will welcome him with open arms.

We admire your grit, Peter, and we can all learn from your remarkable journey.

You can read more via the Houston Chronicle here and KHOU here.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Auburn in the playoffs? Don’t count the Tigers out yet

(College Football Playoff/Facebook, YHN)

You can surely call me wacky. You can surely call me unconventional. Just don’t call me Shirley. And after perusing this column, perhaps you will call me enlightened (I can only hope). Yes, I’m telling you that there’s a chance. That chance may be slim, but there’s a chance that the Auburn Tigers could soon find themselves in the College Football Playoffs.

Now, before you send me to my doctor, give me just a few minutes to make my case — my doctor can wait.

I’m here to tell you that if Auburn wins out, the Tigers could become the first-ever two-loss team that makes the four-team playoff field.

How in the name of Aubie can that happen? Here we go:


The latest College Football Playoff poll has LSU, Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia holding the top four spots, with Alabama checking in at number five. While most of us agree that the Crimson Tide can sneak into the playoff field by winning out (Bama will need a big win over Auburn and then hope that LSU beats Georgia in the SEC Championship game), the Gus Bus also has a chance of motoring toward the final four by winning out.

So then, what do Auburn officials need to happen to make their case? They need Auburn to win the remaining games on the schedule: Should Auburn beat Georgia and then Alabama, the Tigers can boast of three wins over top-seven teams (Oregon, Georgia and Alabama). The Tigers can point to their strength of schedule, which currently ranks second in the nation behind LSU. But what about the two losses? The Tigers lost to 11th-ranked Florida by 11 points and #1-ranked LSU by three points — that’s not necessarily the playoff kiss of death.

What about all of those unbeaten and one-loss teams that are in the mix? An Auburn win this weekend would all but eliminate Georgia, and a win in the Iron Bowl would all but eliminate Bama, as a two-loss Auburn team would trump a two-loss Alabama team with the Tiger’s win over the Crimson Tide. But even if three of the playoff teams wind up being LSU, Ohio State and Clemson, how would Auburn sneak past the likes of Oregon, Oklahoma, Baylor, Utah or even Penn State (the Nittany Lions face Ohio State on the 23rd of this month)?

That’s easy, as the power of the SEC, strength of schedule and the ‘ole, “what have you done for me lately” syndrome would kick in (wins over Georgia and Alabama within weeks of one another would indeed be impressive). Oregon could be a wild card should Auburn win out, as the Ducks could claim that their only loss came at the hands of — you guessed it — Auburn.

The world of the College Football Playoffs goes through the Loveliest Village this weekend, as the Auburn-Georgia game is so big that Crimson Tide fans may find themselves rooting for Tua and friends. Remember, an Auburn win this weekend and then a convincing Iron Bowl win by Alabama would all but put the Crimson Tide in the playoffs.

Can the Auburn Tigers go all 2017 starting this weekend? Remember, the Tigers had two losses a few years back before beating Georgia and Bama. It could happen, and if it does, the Auburn family will once again remind the world that it should be respected. Could the Tigers make the playoffs? Most playoff sites are giving the Tigers a 13% chance of sneaking in. Thirteen percent odds are better than many, so yes, I’m saying there’s a chance. So get ready for another wild weekend of college football, as a game with huge ramifications will kick off at 2:37 p.m. CT at Jordan-Hare Stadium. And regardless of the game’s outcome, do me a favor: Don’t call me Shirley.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Have some sports journalists lost their minds?

(Colin Cowherd, Ivan Maisel/Twitter, YHN)

I heard the buzz earlier this week on sports talk radio, and I sincerely thought it was a joke.

But no joke it was, as I had heard the news correctly: A talk show host was relaying information that a prominent media star was telling his national TV and radio audience that he thinks it’s time for Alabama football coach Nick Saban to retire. After a five-point loss to LSU. After going 63-5 and winning two national championships over the last five years. For Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports, this was no joke.

I heard the buzz a day later. A prominent sportswriter and broadcaster was telling his national audience that the Alabama football dynasty could be nearing an end. After a five-point loss to LSU. After winning five national championships in 10 years. To ESPN’s Ivan Maisel, this was no joke.

This is what a single Alabama football loss has led to: Some media types going rogue, and their followers buying in.

Why is it happening?


It happens because the Crimson Tide football team wins so often. America’s sports public forgets that coaches other than Nick Saban recruit five-star athletes. And get this: A number of teams other than Alabama can actually win a contest against the Crimson Tide — no, really — it happens. Not often (five times in the last five years), but it happens.

Yes, it has come to this: Watch the Bama football team lose a game and get ready to send the coach on his way.

I’m coming in hot with some thoughts on these topics and the Alabama-LSU game. Hop on board and take a spin with me!


Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Why Dylan Moses suiting up against LSU almost brought some of his Tide teammates to tears

It’s a story that you might not have heard — a story that I think is, well, awesome.

You may know that University of Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses is out for the season after suffering a knee injury before a game was even played.

Why then, was Bama’s star linebacker in uniform for the LSU game?

It’s all because of Dylan’s love for his teammates.


You see, Dylan is from Baton Rouge, and he wanted to find a way to motivate his teammates, show them how much they mean to him and remind them with which team his heart lies.

So Dylan approached Coach Nick Saban and asked for permission to suit up for the big game. Saban signed off on the idea, and on Saturday just past noon, Dylan went on to quietly dress before kickoff.

Saban explained, “Being from Baton Rouge, he came and asked if he could dress for the game and wanted to be a part of the team for that game. We have no intentions of playing him, nor is that any indication that he’s ready to come back and start practicing or playing – that’s not the case. It was just something that he wanted to do to be a part of the team.”

Dylan’s gesture nearly brought some teammates to tears, and helped unify his teammates as they fought their hearts out. As he stood on the sidelines in full gear on Saturday, he served as a motivator and a role model to the young men in Crimson.

It’s a story that you may not have learned from watching the broadcast, but it’s my pleasure to bring it to you here.

Job well done, Dylan. Job well done.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Looking back on Bama vs. LSU: Joe won the Heisman, but Tua won my respect

(LSU Football, Alabama Football/Facebook, YHN)

The end zone was but a few yards away. His eyes widened as over 100,000 fans held their breaths — after all, this was Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa not passing the football, but instead running toward paydirt.

Wasn’t the Crimson Tide signal-caller supposed to go easy on that ankle — the same ankle that was repaired just 20 days earlier by a team of surgeons from the Andrews Sports Medicine Institute? It certainly would have been understandable if Tua had chosen any option other than to scramble. But this was Tua Tagovailoa, a proud warrior who knew that an early score less than three minutes into such a monumental game would send an early message to the LSU defense. Suddenly, as Tagovailoa looked to finish off his touchdown run, he felt the football squirt out of his hands.

Something wasn’t quite right with Tua Tagovailoa in the first half of the monumental game, and it was in many ways the result of an ankle that was not quite back to 100%. When Tua later threw an interception and LSU held a 20-point halftime lead, Bama fans found their nails chewed and the name Mac Jones was trending on Twitter.


The hostile crowd only served to motivate him: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was out to prove that his team was going to show the world that eight was enough. After eight straight losses to the Crimson Tide, Burrow was set on silencing the home town crowd, and silencing them quickly. And oh, how he did just that, throwing for 252 yards and three touchdowns — in just the first half! Burrow could do no wrong, scorching the talented Alabama defense for 33 points and over 300 yards in only two quarters of play.

This was how the start of a Heisman-hyped football game began, as two quarterbacks, both expected to be invited to December’s Heisman dinner, displayed their talents for the nation — and the president — to see. By halftime, the “Joe Burrow has all but clinched the Heisman” talk had begun. Yet, as the name Joe Burrow was trending, the experts forgot to do one thing before they crossed all other Heisman candidates off their lists: Watch the entire football game.

We’ve all seen it too many times: Just when you think the Crimson Tide are in trouble, they fight back — and I’m here to tell you that there is no bigger fighter on the Alabama football team than Tua Tagovailoa.

A sore ankle and a gimpy leg? Forget about it!

Something magical was going on, and Bama fans sensed it: Tua was back, as that tight spiral and pinpoint passing had returned. With just over five minutes remaining in the game, Tua threw a perfectly-placed football to Jerry Jeudy- the result? A Crimson Tide touchdown, and Bama trailed 39-34. After an LSU score, Tua showed that he still had gas in his tank: An 85-yard TD strike to Devonta Smith closed the LSU lead to 46-41. While LSU hung on to win the game, Tua’s courage and talent reminded voters that Tagovailoa was not to be forgotten in the Heisman conversation.

Joe Burrow had a game to remember, as he completed 31 of his 39 pass attempts for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was a performance that moved him to the front of the ESPN Heisman Watch List, overtaking Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. And guess who now stands second on the list, just one point behind Joe Burrow? Yep, a young man named Tua Tagovailoa (various ESPN experts vote weekly to give the public an idea of where the Heisman race stands. Burrow stands first with 44 points, Tagovailoa second with 43 points and Hurts third with 36 points).

In the moments that followed LSU’s 46-41 win, I was struck by a persistent thought: Was Tua’s performance on Saturday more impressive than Burrow’s? Call me crazy if you will, but the Bama quarterback threw for 418 yards and four touchdowns on what amounted to be one leg — he could barely walk after the game. Tua Tagovailoa was resilient and brave as he led nearly led his team back from a 20-point deficit.

I’ve been a Heisman voter for many years, and I know that voters like winners. I’m here to tell you that if the Heisman Trophy was awarded tomorrow, Joe Burrow would be the winner. And while there is plenty of time for Joe, Tua and Jalen to pad their stats, my gut feeling is that Burrow will win the trophy. Yet don’t count out the Bama star, as through sheer will and guts, Tua reminded Heisman voters that the voting margin may be closer than they think.

What a showcase it was: Two talented Heisman candidates poured out their hearts for their teammates. And the final verdict? Joe may have won the Heisman, but Tua won my respect. And it’s yet another reason why Heisman week in New York is going to be a whole lot of fun!

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

The Road Ahead: Norman and Lyle may just save the day for the Crimson Tide


Have you started your drive to Tuscaloosa? You better get after it, as it’s going to be a wild weekend in T-Town!

As all eyes will be on the likes of Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow and President Donald Trump, I’m here to tell you that if the Crimson Tide win the game against LSU, you will have Norman and Lyle to thank.

Who are Norman and Lyle?

Take a ride with me as we head to Tuscaloosa, and I’ll introduce you to two very important people who are huge keys to Bama’s success.



RELATED: Greg McElroy’s four x-factors will determine this weekend’s Bama-LSU winner

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Greg McElroy’s four x-factors will determine this weekend’s Bama-LSU winner

(G. McElroy/Twitter, YHN)

Let me take a wild guess: You have been giddy with excitement as the Alabama-LSU football game draws closer.

You have listened to the pundits, yet you remain confused about which team will walk off the field a winner. Your brain is filled with frightening thoughts: What if Tua is not 100%? What if Bama misses another field goal when it matters most? What if the president’s visit distracts the Crimson Tide players?

Never fear, a hero of the game is here to put your mind at rest!

Former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy knows a thing or two about winning big games, and he knows a thing or two about delivering big plays against the LSU Tigers in Bryant-Denny Stadium.


It was November 7, 2009, when third-ranked Alabama took it to LSU 24-15. McElroy went 19-of-34 for 276 yards and two TD passes (a 21-yard TD pass to Darius Hanks and a 73-yard TD pass to Julio Jones) as Bama clinched a spot in the SEC Championship game.

These days, McElroy stays busy running between his numerous duties at ESPN and the SEC Network. He’s a game analyst, a studio contributor and a host at SEC Network. He has his own national radio show, and he’s just signed a deal to be a member of the XFL’s network broadcast team next spring. And while Greg is a man on the go, he remains grounded while living in the Birmingham area with his wife Meredith and the couple’s recently born son (a future 5-star quarterback come 2037?).

Greg somehow found 30 minutes out of his schedule to join the “Huts And Nuts” podcast, where he put on his thinking cap and shared his four x-factors for the big game — and they are x-factors that may not have come to mind.

Leave it to the man who graduated from UA in three years, was a Rhodes scholarship finalist and received a Master’s degree in Sports Management with a 4.0 GPA to educate us mere mortals on what to look for this weekend.

What a Saturday it will be in Tuscaloosa!

McElroy will be front and center as ESPN’s “College GameDay” and the SEC Network’s “SEC Nation” programs will broadcast live from on campus.

Later? President Trump will make his arrival, and soon thereafter it will be time for the Tide and the Tigers to get after it!

Former Alabama star Roger Shultz and yours truly had a great time picking Greg’s large brain about the Alabama-LSU game. I hope that you enjoy the podcast, and I hope that you have a very happy and successful weekend!


Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Watch: Galu Tagovailoa reaffirms faith with Church of the Highlands’ Chris Hodges

(Galu Tagovailoa/Contributed)

While it’s a huge weekend coming up for the Crimson Tide football team and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, it’s already been a huge week for Tua’s father.

Galu Tagovailoa told me that he reaffirmed his faith just a few days ago by taking part in the Church of the Highlands’ “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus” series.

Pastor Chris Hodges welcomed Galu, his wife (Diane) and other family members as Hodges helped make Sunday special for the Tagovailoa family and others by holding baptisms.

I appreciate Galu for allowing me to post this video (which was originally posted on Instagram by Tua), and I hope that he has a great week.

Watch below or here:


Galu’s next stop: Bryant-Denny Stadium to watch a little football game!

RELATED: Watch: Tua Tagovailoa’s parents pray for their son in reaction to the Bama QB starting on Saturday

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

When President Trump visits Nick Saban: What a fly on the wall might hear

(WH/Flickr, ESPN/YouTube, YHN)

The biggest game of the college football season is now even bigger, as numerous media outlets (including Yellowhammer News) are reporting that President Donald Trump will be traveling to Tuscaloosa this weekend.

Will the president have a few moments to visit with Nick Saban before No. 2 Alabama faces No. 1 LSU?

If so, here’s what the conversation might sound like:


Nick Saban: “Welcome to Tuscaloosa, Mr. President. It’s an honor to have you here.”

President Trump: “My pleasure, Nick. I’m excited that I will be the second-most powerful man in the stadium later today.”

Saban: “Is there anything I can get you? We have some grilled chicken or turkey on a nice bed of greens.”

Trump: “No thanks coach – we drove the motorcade through Chick-fil-A on McFarland Ave before pulling into the stadium. Popeye’s has nothing on that sandwich!”

Saban: “Have you seen our facilities yet, sir?”

Trump: “I certainly have. You should come visit one of my properties sometime.”

Saban: “I’d be glad to, but they would probably be a step down.”

Trump: “So you do have a sense of humor!”

Saban: “My apologies, sir, it’s just that I’m proud of what we have built here.”

Trump: “And well you should be. Hey, I saw one of your huge linemen outside- he looked like he weighed 12,000 pounds.”

Saban: “Oh, that was our mascot, Big Al. Either that or Terrence Cody has come back to visit.”

Trump: “I knew I came to the right place. I get along with elephants much better than I do donkeys.”

Saban: “Have you had a chance this morning to visit with LSU coach Ed Orgeron?”

Trump: “Yes I have, and I must say that I couldn’t understand a word that he said.”

Saban: “We’ve been hoping that his players don’t understand him, either.”

Trump: “Would you like me to give him a nickname like ‘Sleepy Ed’?”

Saban: “No, that’s OK. We won’t need any more motivation for this game.

Trump: “Let me ask you, Nick, ‘How WILL you motivate your players for such a big game?’”

Saban: “I will tell them to imagine the LSU players as people they detest- any ideas?”

Trump: “How about Congress?”

Saban: “Hmmm … and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow?”

Trump: “Nancy Pelosi.”

Saban: “LSU receiver Justin Jefferson?

Trump: “Adam Schiff might work.”

Saban: “See? You’re getting the hang of it!”

Trump: “And the thought of what person gets your players mean and nasty?”

Saban: “Finebaum.”

Trump: “I’m sorry, Nick, I don’t know him.”

Saban: “Be glad, sir, be glad.”

Trump: “It sure looks like you are in control here. How do you prevent leaks?”

Saban: “That’s simple, sir: I just don’t let my assistants speak to the media. It’s one voice here, sir.”

Trump: “But how do you keep the ‘fake news’ media in check?”

Saban: “That’s easy. I simply wait until one of those boneheads asks a stupid question and I explode. It’s lots of fun and my base eats it up.”

Trump: “But how should I handle a reporter like Jim Acosta of CNN, a real pain in the backside?”

Saban: “I’ll be happy to send Raekwon Davis up to your place for a visit. One tackle will wipe that smarmy grin off Acosta’s face.”

Trump: “I see. What a game this should be. What’s the key for your team to win?

Saban: “Rushin’”

Trump: “I beg your pardon?”

Saban: “Oh, uh, I mean, consistently running the ball. We also need to get the ball to our receivers.”

Trump: “I understand they have big hands. That has to be an advantage, right?”

Saban: “That’s always an advantage.”

Trump: “Let me ask you about Tommy Tuberville. Should I endorse him for his U.S. Senate run?”

Saban: “That’s up to you, Mr. President.”

Trump: “Do you think Alabama fans will vote for him?”

Saban: “Of course! He was so successful against Alabama that the folks here went out and hired me.”

Trump: “You mean Tommy Tuberville was responsible for getting you to Tuscaloosa?”

Saban: “I guess you could say that. That’ll teach those Aubies for winning six straight against us.”

Trump: “Before I go, I wanted to ask you what kind of crowd size you might expect today.”

Saban: “Plenty big, sir. I know how much you like big crowds, and this will satisfy you.”

Trump: “Can’t wait to Tweet that out later today.”

Saban: I don’t Tweet, Mr. President, but I will take note of that.”

Trump: “You don’t Tweet? You should try it sometime. You would have more followers than me!”

Saban: “It’s been nice visiting with you, sir.”

Trump: “Same here, Nick. Hey, do you have time to get in a few holes at the Capstone Club before the game? I brought my clubs.”

Saban: “Not today, sir, but thank you.”

Trump: “That’s fine. Good luck to you, Nick. I hope that you never retire.”

Saban: “There are no term limits here, sir. I can coach for decades.”

Trump: “Now that’s what I’m talking about.”

Saban: “Once again, it has been a pleasure. I can always tell my grandchildren about this nice chat with POTUS.”

Trump: “And I can tell my grandkids about this nice chat with the GOAT.”

Saban: “Indeed. Oh, and you can do me a favor today, Mr. President? Can you stay for the entire game?”

Trump: “Will do, coach. Will do!”

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

Rick Karle: Sit back, relax and enjoy the Bama-LSU game this weekend


Ready for this weekend’s big game? Heck, the Alabama-LSU match-up is so big, President Donald Trump will attend (and he better not leave the game early…).

While there is no doubt that you want your favorite team to win, I have good news for you: The loser of the game will still have upwards of a 73% chance to make the College Football Playoffs! A one-loss Alabama or LSU team will still be in great shape to make a run to a national championship.

Do you want your team to win this weekend?

Of course, but don’t sweat it: Just sit back, relax and enjoy the match-up, and be content in knowing that even with a loss, your team may just win it all. I’m coming in hot with my take on the big game!



Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.

1 year ago

The lessons Mike Lutzenkirchen learned from his late son, the Auburn football star

(Lutzie 43 Foundation/Facebook, YHN)

He was hulking and handsome, a talented Auburn University tight end from Atlanta who was known for his great motor and his big heart. But in the early morning hours of June 29, 2014, Philip Lutzenkirchen was gone — and after making a series of bad decisions, at that.

Over five years later, Mike Lutzenkirchen is carrying on the memory of his son and saving lives along the way.

If Philip Lutzenkirchen was a hero on the football field, Mike is a hero to thousands, as he turns his resilient work ethic into good by visiting schools, companies and organizations to spread his message about the dangers of drinking and driving as well as the importance of seat belt use.

Mike’s only son was loving and kind-hearted, but he was also human — and when he climbed into a car and sat in the back seat behind a driver who was drunk, when he sat in that car without a seat belt and was legally drunk himself, he put his life in danger. It was a life that was snuffed out after a vicious crash in LaGrange, Georgia.

Mike told the Huts And Nuts podcast, “If you make a series of poor decisions in a compressed time frame, there is no discrimination.”


Mike Lutzenkirchen has been saving lives for over half a decade now, and he does so as he thinks about his only son every minute of every day. Only months after Philip’s passing, Mike knew that he had to do something, so he reached out to family members and friends. Soon thereafter, the Lutzie 43 Foundation was born.

Its mission? To educate youth, especially teenagers, on the importance of decision making.

The Foundation’s motto? “Live Like Lutz, Love Like Lutz, Learn From Lutz” — and Mike has been traveling the country to preach that message for years.

In the midst of speaking nationwide to some 170,000 students, thoughts of Philip never leave him.

As Mike remarked, “If you have faith, you know that the person you have lost has gone to heaven. I credit the man upstairs and my family for giving me strength.”

It’s that kind of passion that Mike brings to his speeches all year long, and when he speaks to young people, they respond. The foundation’s “43 Key Seconds” initiative reminds teens of a checklist before starting their car engine– it’s easy and sensical. The foundation (which can be found here at has also raised over $2 million for scholarships, as the foundation has served as a worldwide platform of advice and encouragement.

Each and every day the Lutzenkirchen family grieves. Mike, Mary, (his wife of 34 years), and his daughters Amy, Ann and Abby never go a day without thinking of their son or brother.

Mike advised, “The loss of our son will not impact our love for one another.”

Still, five years later, Mike still wonders, adding, “You wonder what he would look like. You wonder who he would be dating. You wonder what he’d be like as an uncle to your own granddaughter.”

Thoughts of Philip are always in his mind, and those thoughts continue to motivate Mike, who, like a loving father and a proud soldier, continues to share advice that saves lives.

Mike Lutzenkirchen never played tight end at Auburn. He never caught a touchdown pass from Cam Newton. He never played in the NFL. But what Mike has done is remember his son by continuing his mission of character education. And for that, Mike Lutzenkirchen is a hero of the game.

Listen to the full interview:

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.