The Wire

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

    Excerpt:

    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

    Excerpt:

    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

    Excerpt:

    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.

4 days ago

Should Auburn be ranked higher? — Playoff rankings takeaways

(College Football Playoff/Facebook)

The College Football Playoff Committee announced its final regular season rankings Tuesday night. The Auburn Tigers came in at No. 11, while the Alabama Crimson Tide fell to No. 12.

Here are three takeaways:

1. Auburn should be ranked higher. Gus Malzahn’s Tigers defeated Alabama in the 84th edition of the Iron Bowl rivalry on Saturday. Even without its injured star quarterback, the Tide are stacked with talent and would be a tough out for anyone. When you consider the teams ranked ahead of them, the Tigers could reasonably be ranked No. 8 or even No. 7. We don’t care about the head-to-head loss to Florida. After all, Oregon spent several weeks ranked ahead of Auburn. Look at the teams ahead of Auburn: Penn State, Florida, Wisconsin and Baylor. Not a lot of heft there.

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2. An eight-team playoff continues to be a silly idea. This idea always gets a little momentum in the offseason — or even the first few weeks of the season — long before the cream begins to rise to the top. This year there is a credible top four: Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Georgia. After them, the pickings get thin. Utah? Oklahoma, who still can’t tackle? Baylor, Wisconsin, Florida or Penn State? A scenario where LSU hammers Baylor by four touchdowns in Baton Rouge seems like a waste of time in the first round of an eight-team playoff.

(College Football Playoff/Twitter)

3. Don’t overlook the impact of a loss by LSU or Clemson. The ESPN studio analysts went so far as to agree that the playoff positions of Ohio State, LSU and Clemson have been solidified, regardless of what happens on Saturday. We’ll go against the grain here. First of all, the notion that Clemson can lose to a mediocre Virginia team and retain a spot in the top four is absurd. That won’t happen. We also can’t help but notice the committee’s top-loading of potential conference champions in the rankings. For example, Baylor has moved up seven spots in the last two weeks after beating five-loss Texas and nine-loss Kansas. Potential Big 12 and PAC 12 champs Baylor, Oklahoma and Utah are huddled up right outside the top four. Big 10 championship game participant Wisconsin sits at No. 8. We still contend the committee wants four conference champions. Could the SEC championship game be a win-or-go-home game for the playoff committee?

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

5 days ago

ESPN projecting Auburn as No. 3 seed in NCAA tournament

Auburn Basketball/Twitter

It’s only December, but the Auburn men’s basketball team has started out hot. The Tigers are 7-0 with the opportunity to stack several more wins before conference play starts in January.

This early season success has caught the eye of ESPN’s NCAA tournament expert, Joe Lunardi.

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Lunardi published an early season projection of the NCAA tournament field as part of his annual bracketology feature for ESPN. He has Auburn currently listed as a No. 3 seed in the East bracket.

This is an exercise Lunardi has undertaken for several years with uncanny accuracy. In coming up with his projections, Lunardi considers the same metrics the NCAA tournament selection committee uses to select the field of 64 plus play-in games.

Lunardi has seven teams from the SEC included in his projected field.

Head coach Bruce Pearl’s Tigers take on Furman Thursday evening at Auburn Arena.

The Tigers begin SEC play January 4 when they travel to Starkville to take on Mississippi State.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

5 days ago

Gus Malzahn honored as national coach of the week

(Auburn Football/Twitter)

Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn has received coach of the week honors from the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation after Malzahn led his Tigers to a 48-45 upset win over in-state rival No. 5 Alabama on Saturday.

The foundation memorializes the career and legacy of famed Georgia Tech head coach Bobby Dodd, who coached the Yellow Jackets for 22 years. Dodd is a member of the National College Football Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. The Peach Bowl manages the Bobby Dodd Award on behalf of the foundation.

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Peach Bowl president and CEO Gary Stokan recognized Malzahn’s leadership during the course of the season.

“Coach Malzahn has been an incredible presence for the Auburn program both on and off the field,” Stokan said in a release from the foundation. “In a season where the Tigers faced one of the toughest schedules in college football, they’ve found a way to persevere, not only on the football field, but in the classroom as well.”

The high-stakes nature of the 84th edition of the rivalry drew the foundation’s attention this week.

“The Iron Bowl seems to always have massive implications on the College Football Playoff, and that was certainly the case again this year,” said Jim Terry, chairman of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation. “In a back-and-forth affair, Auburn was able to make crucial plays when it mattered most. Rivalry games always meant a great deal to Coach Dodd. He would have loved the coaching chess match that played out during the game.”

Late last week, Yellowhammer News outlined many of Malzahn’s achievements as Auburn’s coach, which have cemented his elite status not only in the pantheon of great Auburn coaches but as one of the best in all of college football.

According to the group, the Dodd Trophy presented by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – along with the Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week Award – celebrates the head coach of a FBS team who enjoys success on the gridiron, while also stressing the importance of scholarship, leadership and integrity.

The Bobby Dodd Foundation also sought to highlight Malzahn’s program for it’s off-the-field achievements, as well.

Malzahn’s program earned an Academic Progress Rating (APR) score of 982 last season, which represented the third-highest score in the SEC. Malzahn and his wife Kristi recently created the Malzahn Family Foundation, Inc., with the goal to give back to the local Lee County community. The foundation is working to raise money to rebuild homes for survivors of the deadly tornado that struck Beauregard, Alabama, in early March.

With the regular season concluded, Malzahn’s Tigers await their bowl bid. He has now coached his team to a bowl game in every one of his seven seasons as Auburn’s head coach.

ESPN currently projects Auburn to face Wisconsin in the Citrus Bowl on January 1.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

1 week ago

Tide takeaways — Iron Bowl postgame

(Alabama Football/Twitter)

The No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide fell to No. 15 Auburn on Saturday in the 85th edition of the in-state rivalry. Here are some quick postgame takeaways:

Big Picture: Not that anyone needed a reminder, but Tua Tagovailoa is a generational player. The two pick sixes thrown by quarterback Mac Jones were so big, even with Jones otherwise playing well. The talent Alabama trotted out on the outside is also collectively generational. However, Auburn never seemed to panic at any point in the game. The Tide lacked that sense of invincibility brought by a Tua-led team.

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Player of the game: Mac Jones. We’re going to hand the player of the game nod to Jones over some other worthy candidates. Jaylen Waddle had 86,000 people holding their breath every time the ball was kicked to him. He totaled four touchdowns as part of a career day. That’s big time. Najee Harris had 146 yards on 27 carries and allowed Tide fans to reminisce about the old days of rushing domination. Nevertheless, someone had to get the ball to all those playmakers, and Jones was up to the task. He finished the day with 335 yards passing in his first real start — which happened to be the biggest game of the year. By no means was he perfect, but Jones never flinched under the brightest of lights.

Best decision: Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and his offense taking advantage of Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele’s propensity for playing man-to-man. The touchdown pass to Waddle in the fourth quarter was the result of Sarkisian seeing the matchup he wanted and taking advantage of it. There was no second read for Jones on that play. He had man-to-man on the outside and Sarkisian knew he had what he wanted. While not a specific play call, we saw also Alabama capitalize on Auburn playing man-to-man again on Jones’ fourth and seven scramble for a first down late in the game. Steele learned his craft from Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who also employs a man-heavy scheme. So there’s no doubt Jones was coached in the week leading up to the game to take off when everyone’s backs were turned in coverage.

Worst decision: Greg Sankey. The commissioner of the SEC denied Alabama’s waiver asking for Tagovailoa’s presence on the sideline to not count toward the Crimson Tide’s 70-man limit for the game at Jordan-Hare. Sankey, an Auburn (New York) man, has taken heat this year for the decline in the quality of officiating. In response to the criticism of league officiating, Sankey issued a strange manifesto outlining the conference’s approach to the issue. Now this. With Tua on crutches and out of uniform, it should have been an easy decision to allow Tagovailoa to attend the game without hindering his team. Tua embodies everything one would think the SEC would want to represent. It should have been an easy decision for Sankey — until it wasn’t.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

1 week ago

Tiger takeaways — Iron Bowl postgame

(Auburn Football/Twitter)

The 85th edition of the Iron Bowl was a wild game from start to finish, with the No. 15 Auburn Tigers ultimately taking down the No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide.

Here are some quick postgame takeaways:

Big picture: Earlier this week, we wrote about the fact Malzahn was among the nation’s elite coaches. This game cements him at the top of the mountain for all-time best Auburn head coaches. The ride has not been without its bumps, but Malzahn is the best who has ever roamed the sidelines at Jordan-Hare. He has now won three games head-to-head with Alabama head coach Nick Saban in addition to a long list of wins against top 10 teams. That’s rarified air in which to travel. Alabama hovered around the college football playoff picture going into this game, but Malzahn stood toe-to-toe with the legend on the other side of the field and proved he belongs in college football’s upper echelon.

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Best decision of the game: Gus Malzahn’s game management. It became apparent with a little more than seven minutes to go in the second quarter that Malzahn had a feel for the this game. Facing a third and long inside Alabama territory, he made the smart decision to take the three points. Malzahn called a run play, picked up a few yards and then saw his kicker tie the game at 10. Usually ultra-aggressive in big games, Malzahn took the long view of what ended up being a game that will go down as one of the classics in the series. He had taken in the first quarter and a half and assessed what he had on defense and what Alabama had in an offense led by newly-minted starter Mac Jones. Malzahn’s measured approach to decision-making continued throughout the game, and it paid off.

Worst decision of the game: Seth Williams’ unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Williams getting into what really appeared to be a one-sided scuffle inside the red zone could have been even more costly. Williams took offense to some seemingly incidental contact from an Alabama defensive back, and it drew a 15-yard penalty. It could have had a much bigger impact on the game.

Player of the game: Anders Carlson. The Tigers’ kicker nailed all four of his kicks, including a 52-yarder. He was clutch. More importantly, he gave Malzahn the confidence to take three points in several situations knowing his defense was going to keep Auburn in the game.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

1 week ago

Reality check – Gus Malzahn among college football’s best

(AU/Facebook)

Thursday was the day everyone remembered why they were thankful. But Friday has become the day symbolizing everything we take for granted.

So let’s join the crowds.

Although, rather than get into a fist fight over a big screen TV, let’s talk about something else people take for granted: having a top-shelf college football coach.

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Gus Malzahn is nearing the conclusion of his seventh season as head football coach at Auburn University. During that time, Malzahn has led the Tigers to an SEC championship, two division titles and a national championship game with a No. 2 final ranking.

If you enjoy traveling to bowl games, Malzahn has those down pat. He has led Auburn to seven consecutive bowl games. Four of those bowl games have been of the New Year’s Day variety.

One of the most common, yet fundamental, clichés in college football is that recruiting is the lifeblood of every program. According to 247 Sports, Malzahn has brought in a top 10 recruiting class in all but one of his seasons as Auburn’s head coach. And his current class is ranked No. 9 in the 247 Sports team rankings.

The stark reality is that the air is thin where Malzahn resides.

He’s one of only 10 active FBS coaches who have played in a national championship game. He’s the only current SEC coach — who doesn’t require an interpreter — to have beaten Nick Saban. Until November 9, he was the only coach in the SEC to have beaten Saban, at all. Malzahn has two wins against the Crimson Tide’s head man just as Dabo Swinney and the retired Urban Meyer also hold a pair each. Only Les Miles has more during Saban’s time at Alabama.

The player production numbers are impressive, too.

Malzahn coached two 1,000-yard rushers during the 2013 season in Tre Mason and Nick Marshall. In all, he’s had five 1,000-yard rushers during his time leading Auburn and fifteen overall during the entirety of his coaching career.

While the chattering class of college football suspiciously eyes the strength of schedule for some of the upper-echelon teams like Alabama and Clemson, that has never been a concern for Malzahn’s Tigers. In fact, Auburn appears to have the most difficult schedule of any program in the country during his seven-year stint as head coach.

His teams have faced 33 ranked opponents. He’s looked across the field and seen a top 10 team 24 times. Six times he’s seen the no. 1 team in the country on the other sideline. Eleven times he’s seen a top 3 team. In 2016, the Tigers were the only team to face the No. 1 and No. 2 teams. In 2017, Auburn matched up against three of the four college football playoff teams, a total of four times, while earning two wins. Most coaches never experience this many elite matchups during long careers in college football.

College and Magnolia offered an insightful breakdown of the gauntlet the Malzahn-coached Tigers have run during his tenure. Spoiler alert: it is possibly the toughest run of games ever.

Many of those games resulted in big wins under Malzahn. He has coached Auburn to three wins against the No. 1 team, including double-digit victories against Alabama and Georgia in 2017. In all, he’s had seven wins against top 10 teams.

It’s no wonder Malzahn’s name continues to pop up in conversations when there’s a coaching vacancy. USA Today columnist Dan Wolken opined a few weeks ago that Florida State should go all-in to hire Malzahn. This is saying a lot for an FSU program that has won three national championships all within the last 25 years.

These kind of “what-ifs” are fun for fans and help generate content even if they won’t ever happen. When athletic directors at places like Florida State make a move, they have to keep in mind who they can get.

It’s not Malzahn. The reason why?

Auburn’s got their guy.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

1 week ago

Legal battle brewing over Golden Flake fortune

(Golden Flake/Facebook)

Golden Flake is a familiar brand for Alabamians, proudly woven into the state’s culture as a homegrown success story. Its potato chips — ever-present on the set of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s coach’s show, along with a Coca-Cola — were known for being part of the slogan “a great pair, says the Bear.”

Throughout the years, Joann Bashinsky, wife of Golden Flake founder Sloan Bashinsky, has become one of Alabama’s most faithful philanthropists. Affectionately called “Mama B” by those who know her best, Joann Bashinsky has given generously to Alabama charities and institutions such as Samford University, Big Oak Ranch, the University of Alabama and countless others.

RELATED: Just call her Mama B: The story of one of Alabama’s most generous women

But now there is a bitter legal dispute brewing over the Golden Flake fortune – currently estimated to be worth $200 million – as Bashinsky’s former allies have sought to have her declared mentally unfit to manage her finances.

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In recent weeks, Bashinsky’s long-time family attorney John P. McKleroy, Jr. successfully petitioned the Jefferson County Probate Court to seize Bashinsky’s estate and appoint a temporary conservator on an emergency basis, alleging that she is unfit to oversee her own finances.

This action was based on allegations that Bashinsky had in recent months displayed a pattern of irresponsible financial dealings and irregular behaviors which led to intervening on her behalf because she may be declining mentally.

In a sign that things are only beginning to heat up in this rancorous feud, some members of the Bashinsky family have gone on the offensive.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Bashinsky expressed a feeling of betrayal by people to whom she had once been close.

“It’s very upsetting that people I have considered to be like family have made up lies about me so that they can steal my beloved foundation and family business away from me,” she lamented. “I trusted these people.”

Yellowhammer News also obtained a copy of a letter from Bashinsky’s personal physician, Dr. W. Robert Spiegel, in which he diagnosed her mentally fit.

This is an excerpt from Spiegel’s letter dated October 3, 2019:

I have been Mrs. Joann Bashinsky’s physician for well over five years.

Based upon a recent physical exam including Mini-Mental Status Exam (MMSE) performed by me on
October 3, 2019, upon a review of the recent consult by a geriatrician, and upon a review of a recent
consult from a neurologist, Mrs. Bashinsky does not have dementia nor psychiatric issue. She has had a
recent side effect to a medication.

She is competent to make decisions for herself.

Bashinsky contends this diagnosis should give her the right and freedom to invest, donate and spend her money however she sees fit.

In addition to their strong belief in her sound mental fitness, Bashinsky and her representatives expect Alabama law to support their position. They have asserted that there exists no basis in law for the action taken, as well as her due process rights having been violated for not having an opportunity to present evidence or have an attorney present at the proceeding.

Susan Walker, an attorney for Bashinsky, views the case ultimately as a squabble over the money Bashinsky’s late husband left behind for her.

“Several physicians, including her personal physician, have cleared her of dementia,” Walker reiterated to Yellowhammer News. “However, the disgruntled former employees have failed to apprise the Court of their financial interests in having Mrs. Bashinsky declared non compos mentis and unable to change her will in which they are beneficiaries.”

Bashinsky’s assets have been frozen, and the Jefferson County Probate Court appointed a temporary ward of her estate until March of 2020.

With both sides claiming to be acting in Bashinsky’s best interest, resolution of the case appears unlikely any time soon.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 weeks ago

College football playoff committee aiming for only one SEC team?

(College Football Playoff/Facebook)

The college football playoff committee announced its latest rankings, and this week may have revealed more about the committee’s thinking than any other so far.

The SEC placed three teams in the top 10 with LSU at No. 2, Georgia at No. 4 and Alabama at No. 5. The committee ranked the Auburn Tigers No. 15.

Here are three takeaways:

1. The playoff committee is imposing conference parity on college football. There has been griping for several years that the playoff has turned into an SEC invitational. This is the week the committee provided the most clues that it is consciously looking to ensure access to other conferences — at the expense of deserving SEC teams. The Big 12 got a bump out of nowhere in this week’s rankings with Oklahoma moving up to 7th and Baylor moving up five spots to 9th after beating a five-loss Texas team. A two-loss Penn State team with limited offensive ability stayed safely in the top 10, and seven-time national champ Minnesota checked in at No. 8 after its big win over a 9-loss Northwestern team. They look to be strengthening these conferences to justify putting in a team from each.

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2. The committee is setting up the SEC championship game to be a win or go home affair. Conventional wisdom in recent weeks has been that LSU could lose in Atlanta and still make the playoff. Don’t count on it, now. Both the Big Ten and the Big 12 got collective bumps this week (see #1). Utah sits comfortably at no. 6 ahead of its conference championship game. And it’s also going to be a lot easier for the committee to drop LSU to the No. 5 spot from the No. 2 spot than it is from the No. 1 spot. Rankings for teams like Penn State, Baylor, Minnesota and Oklahoma are being over-inflated. The committee is sending up smoke signals that it wants a more inclusive playoff based on conference affiliation. Either LSU or Georgia will make the college football playoff. Not both.

3. The Alabama Crimson Tide are still in a tight spot. Oregon’s upset loss on Saturday night seemed to have pumped a little more oxygen in the Tide’s chances. But the rankings released tonight by the committee may have done the opposite. Big 12 and Big 10 teams got bumps. Utah is nipping at the Tide’s heels. And Ohio State overtook LSU. The committee is making sure each of those conferences get positioned for a top 4 seed. That’s not good news for an Alabama team not playing in Atlanta the first weekend in December. Chaos can still happen. It’s hard to go undefeated, and that’s why history would suggest losses are still going to be on the table for some of the top teams. Alabama could use a team like Clemson to get beat. Maybe more importantly, it needs some teams behind it to get beat in order to make it impossible for the committee to seed a multi-loss conference champ. The good news for Alabama is that there are lot more games to be played.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 weeks ago

Alabama Association for Justice event series continues across south Alabama

(ALAJ/Contributed, YHN)

The Alabama Association for Justice (ALAJ) this week held four events across the southern half of the state as part of its series celebrating the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution.

ALAJ, one of the state’s largest legal organizations, marked the occasion of the 230th anniversary of the introduction of the Bill of Rights with events in Baldwin, Houston, Mobile and Washington Counties.

The group is using its event series to honor judges and judicial staff who work throughout Alabama’s court system. Each gathering has included the presentation of a resolution by the Alabama legislature commending the area’s judiciary.

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ALAJ president Josh Hayes has led the events and expressed his own appreciation for those serving in the state’s judicial system.

“ALAJ’s Courthouse Appreciation Tour continues to be a huge success,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Thanks to the dedicated judges and courthouse personnel who keep the wheels of justice turning. Thanks to these public servants, the 7th Amendment right to trial by jury is alive and well.”

Celebrating the introduction of the Seventh Amendment and expressing gratitude for the job these officials do is a natural fit, according to Hayes.

ALAJ president Josh Hayes addresses the crowd at the Washington County Courthouse (contributed)

He remarked that ALAJ has sought to “celebrate the Seventh Amendment and the judges, clerks, officers, judicial assistants and courthouse personnel who work tirelessly each day to make sure the right to trial by jury is protected. ALAJ honors these dedicated civil servants and the job they do on behalf of all Alabamians.”

The Seventh Amendment was proposed to the states on September 28, 1789, and ratified on December 15, 1791.

Trial by jury was seen as one area of agreement between Federalists and Anti-Federalists.

Bill of Rights author and noted Federalist James Madison wrote, “Trial by jury is essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature.” While Anti-Federalist Patrick Henry wrote, “Trial by jury is the best appendage of freedom. I hope that we shall never be induced to part with that excellent mode of trial.”

The Seventh Amendment reads as follows:

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

ALAJ outlines its mission as preserving and protecting “the constitutional right to a trial by jury guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution by ensuring that every person or business harmed or injured by the misconduct or negligence of others can hold wrongdoers accountable in the one room where everyone is equal – the courtroom.”

Hayes elaborated on its importance for the court system and the maintenance of our civil society.

“The right to trial by jury is part of who we are as Americans so we’re judged by people just like you and I — our peers,” Hayes remarked. “Whether you represent a large corporation or whether you are an injured person on your own, in a jury room that is the one room where everybody is equal — the American courtroom.”

ALAJ plans to conclude its Courthouse Appreciation Tour on December 16 in Tuscaloosa County.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

3 weeks ago

Playoff committee not buying into Bama with latest rankings – 3 takeaways

(College Football Playoff/Facebook)

The college football playoff selection committee released its next round of rankings on Tuesday night. The committee put the Alabama Crimson Tide in the No. 5 slot. Auburn came in at No. 15.

Here are three takeaways:

1. If you are going to lose a game, lose to a bad team. For the second week in a row, Alabama sits one spot behind Georgia in spite of the Tide’s season of offensive dominance and a lone loss to the No. 1 team in the country, LSU. Alabama ranks 8th in total offense, while Georgia ranks 47th.

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Georgia also has the worst loss of any team in the top 10. Georgia lost, at home, to a team bearing this profile:

Total Offense: 79th
Rushing Offense: 73rd
Passing Offense: 69th
Scoring Offense: 99th
3rd Down Conversion %: 120th
Total Defense: 58th
Rush Defense: 61st
Pass Defense: 66th
Scoring Defense: 49th

That’s 4-7 South Carolina, a team down to its third-string quarterback against Georgia.

Committee chairman Rob Mullens told the ESPN studio crew that the committee considered the wins on Georgia’s resume to be impressive. While Georgia does have some good wins, the metrics point to Alabama as the better team.

ESPN reporter David Hale compiled a list of useful metrics, the sum total of which places Alabama as the third best team in college football.

There will always be debate surrounding the rankings. When Alabama took a close loss to LSU, it lost control of its own destiny. But the committee seems to have already made up its mind about where it thinks Alabama should ultimately land and is selling its stock in the Tide.

2. Bama can force the committee’s hand with a big win over Auburn. We wrote last week about the inconsistency with which the committee handled the Tide’s ranking. Things could intensify should head coach Nick Saban’s squad get a statement win against Auburn. Try this scenario on for size:

Alabama wins convincingly in the Iron Bowl.
LSU, Ohio State and Clemson win out.
Oregon finishes as a one-loss PAC 12 champion.

Do they take Oregon over Alabama even with Alabama having just beaten the team which beat Oregon?

Mullens justified the committee’s placement of Penn State ahead of seven-time national champion Minnesota (a team which defeated Penn State only a week earlier) largely based on the results when facing a common opponent: Iowa. Penn State beat Iowa, while Minnesota suffered a loss to Iowa.

Consistency would lend to Alabama getting the nod over Oregon based on the results on the field against a common opponent. But don’t count on it.

3. The Big Ten is all set. With three teams currently in the top 10, the committee is saying there will be at least one Big Ten team in the playoff. Even after its dud against Iowa, Minnesota came in at No. 10, Penn State at No. 8 and Ohio State at No. 2. The committee has positioned those teams so that the conference champ is in under any circumstance.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

4 weeks ago

Alabama A&M honored by Brooks in U.S. House floor speech

(Alabama A&M/Twitter)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) took to the floor of the United States House of Representatives to honor Alabama A&M University on Wednesday.

Brooks sought to mark the occasion of Alabama A&M’s accreditation 50 years ago. As part of his speech, Brooks also walked listeners through the institution’s storied history and tradition.

Watch:

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The full text of Brooks’ speech as follows:

Mister Speaker, I rise today to recognize the 50th anniversary of Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University.

The school was originally established not long after the Civil War in 1873 by the legislature of the State of Alabama. Through the tireless efforts of the first principal and president, William Hooper Council, the Huntsville Normal School opened on May 1, 1875 with an appropriation of $1,000 per year. It had 61 students and two instructors.

In 1885, because of its success with industrial education, the Alabama Legislature changed its name to the “State Normal and Industrial School in Huntsville.”

In 1891, the name was again changed to “The State Agricultural and Industrial Institute for Negroes,” and a new location was provided at Normal, Alabama.

In 1969, the school became a fully accredited member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and its name was changed to “Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University,” the name that it has today.

In the 50 years since its university designation and establishment of the foundation, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University has grown to encompass widely respected programs in engineering, computer science, business, food sciences, agricultural and animal sciences, and education as well as PhD programs in plant and soil science, food science, physics, and reading.

Today, Alabama A&M University is comprised of over 70 buildings on more than 1,000 acres, is home to more than 6,000 students, is a designated “Gold Military Friendly” institution, and serves as a regional, state, national, and international resource while maintaining its mission of educating the underserved and uplifting the people of Alabama, the nation, and the world through its excellence in education.

On a more personal note, my mother, Betty Brooks, is a proud graduate of Alabama A&M University, having received her masters degree there. I thank Alabama A&M for helping her to successfully serve for a quarter of a century as a Lee High School government and economics teacher.

In sum, I am and all of the State of Alabama is proud of Alabama A&M University’s accomplishments and wish Alabama A&M a happy 50th Anniversary as a fully accredited university.

Go Bulldogs!

May your future success in helping prepare, train, and educate our youth be as great and productive as your past.

Mister Speaker, I yield back.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

4 weeks ago

ESPN’s Heather Dinich: ‘Don’t forget about Auburn’ in the college football playoff race

(Auburn Football/Facebook)

Auburn came in at No. 12 when the college football committee announced its latest round of rankings on Tuesday evening.

There was plenty of discussion in the ESPN studio about the Tigers’ impact on the rankings with upcoming games against Georgia and Alabama. Show host and University of Alabama alum Rece Davis went so far as to declare, “Auburn is the most important non-contender in all of college football.”

One of Davis’ colleagues at ESPN has since pushed back against the notion that Auburn should be labeled a “non-contender.”

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ESPN playoff committee expert Heather Dinich believes Auburn should not be counted out of the playoff hunt, yet.

Dinich took her argument to Twitter Wednesday morning.

Dinich makes a compelling case based on three potentially significant data points. There is no arguing the resume of any team with two top-5 wins. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ win over Oregon in Dallas looks better each week. And, with a committee that seems to apply a little more eye test than its previous versions, having an elite defensive unit would add to its case for inclusion.

ESPN’s playoff predictor gives Auburn a 5% chance to make the playoff. FiveThirtyEight takes a dimmer view of the Tigers’ situation, placing a 2% chance on making the final four team cut.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

4 weeks ago

Playoff committee ranks Alabama No. 5, Auburn No. 12 – Five takeaways

(College Football Playoff/Facebook)

The college football playoff committee announced its next round of rankings on Tuesday evening, and sent a few messages in the process. Here are five takeaways:

1. The committee has now taken two inconsistent approaches to ranking Alabama. Committee chairman Rob Mullens went to great lengths last week to say the committee held the Crimson Tide in high regard for its personnel and overall ability. Yet, in this week’s ranking, the committee dropped Alabama below a Georgia team which has shown it does not have an elite unit on either side of the ball and has a home loss to a bad South Carolina team on its resume.

Georgia beat a mediocre Missouri team last weekend. Alabama took a close loss — now the best loss in the country — to No. 1 LSU with a hobbled Tua Tagovailoa. If the committee indeed held Alabama in high regard last week, this week’s events should have done nothing to vault Georgia ahead of the Tide.

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2. “Auburn is the most important non-contender in all of college football.” Those were the words of ESPN studio host Rece Davis. Perhaps that was the network’s finest analysis of the evening. The fate of three highly-ranked teams is tied to the outcome of Auburn’s remaining games. The No. 12 Tigers face No. 4 Georgia this weekend and No. 5 Alabama in the Iron Bowl in three weeks. We wrote earlier this week about how Crimson Tide fans will want to practice saying ‘War Eagle’ heading into Auburn’s matchup on Saturday. An Auburn win is good for Alabama any way you cut it.

Oregon is sneaking around the top-four itself, and so for Auburn to keep winning would help their loss in Dallas look a little more forgivable. Auburn will now have a few hundred thousand extra fans in its corner by kickoff on Saturday.

3. Alabama now gets to see how the other half lives. The reality is that by this point in any season most teams get into the playoff as a result of some other teams’ misfortune. That’s rarely been the case for Alabama. The Tide have largely steamrolled into the playoffs year after year. At No. 5, with some future conference champions right behind them, Alabama needs some help. Clemson looking past one of their remaining inferior opponents and choking away a game would help. But so would some losses from one of the teams behind them. Which brings us to…

4. The committee sure wants to place a PAC 12 champion in the playoff this year. It’s been three years since a PAC 12 team made the playoff. There have only been two teams from the conference to ever make the top-four. The committee seems to be angling for that to change this year. Oregon came in at No. 6 this week, and Utah came in at No. 7. It certainly look as if the committee is setting up a strategy to put one of those two in the playoff as a conference champion. Alabama could use Utah and Oregon to take another loss to become a two-loss champion. A statement win against Auburn (who beat Oregon) in the Iron Bowl would help make its case, as well.

5. The Big 12 will be sitting this year’s playoff out. The committee does not think highly of the Big 12 — at all. One-loss Oklahoma is ranked No. 10, while undefeated Baylor is ranked directly behind two two-loss teams at No. 13. The message from the committee is clear: the Big 12 should make other plans for New Years. Even seven-time national champion Minnesota made the leap to respectability with its No. 8 ranking this week. Oklahoma and Baylor can only dream.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

4 weeks ago

Small business remains ‘upbeat’ about economy; Workforce needs remain a priority

(NFIB/Facebook, YHN)

The small business economic engine continues to run strong, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) October Optimism Index.

The nationwide small business organization released the findings of its monthly index on Tuesday, with the index once again showing gains in that sector of the economy.

The leader of NFIB’s Alabama association expressed continued optimism among members.

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“[S]mall business owners in Alabama generally are upbeat about the direction of the economy,” explained NFIB state director Rosemary Elebash. “Their primary concern at the moment is finding enough good job applicants.”

NFIB president and CEO Juanita Duggan, an Alabama native, credits sound policy for the gains despite some recent media fixation on potential negative trends.

“A continued focus on a recession by policymakers, talking heads, and the media clearly caused some consternation among small businesses in previous months, but after shifting their focus to other topics, it’s become clear that owners are not experiencing the predicted turmoil,” said Duggan. “Small business owners are continuing to create jobs, raise wages, and grow their businesses, thanks to tax cuts and deregulation, and nothing is stopping them except for finding qualified workers.”

As a result of small business continuing to hire and create new jobs, the index found that actual job creation in October exceeded that in September.

As Elebash noted, meeting the workforce needs of thriving small businesses remain both a challenge and a priority.

Twenty-five percent of the owners in the NFIB survey selected “finding qualified labor” as their top business problem, more than cited taxes or regulations.

“Labor shortages are impacting investment adversely – a new truck, or tractor, or crane is of no value if operators cannot be hired to operate them,” said NFIB chief economist William Dunkelberg.

At a small business panel hosted by Yellowhammer last month, Alabama’s workforce development needs drove much of the conversation.

“We have a significant shortage of qualified workers,” said Elebash, who participated in the panel discussion.

State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) is a member of a workforce development commission assembled by Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth.

Also a participant in Yellowhammer’s small business event, he outlined the fact that Alabama needs to implement a sound strategy to address its workforce needs.

“Not only do we need to develop our workforce for current jobs, we’ve got to get out front and understand where we are going,” advised Garrett.

For now, NFIB’s Dunkelberg remains bullish on an economy in which small business is prospering.

“The economy is doing well given the labor constraints it faces. Unemployment is very low, incomes are rising, and inflation is low. That’s a good economy,” Dunkelberg concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

4 weeks ago

Tide fans should practice saying these two words: ‘War’ and ‘Eagle’

(Auburn Football/Facebook, University of Alabama/Contributed, YHN)

There has never been a college football playoff without the Alabama Crimson Tide. So, one can imagine the collective shoulder shrug from Tide fans should they end up facing Baylor in the Sugar Bowl or Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl with a mere fifth-place ranking on the line.

Despite what happened in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, all is not lost for Tide fans. There is a distinct possibility Alabama does not drop out of the top 4 when the playoff rankings come out on Tuesday.

That would still amount to some pretty thin ice. The analytics site FiveThirtyEight is not particularly bullish on Alabama’s chances to make the playoff, placing only an 11% chance on that happening.

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On the other hand, ESPN’s playoff predictor views the Tide’s chances favorably pegging them with a 41% chance of making the playoff.

The Tide now sit in the unenviable position of needing some help. Some teams will take unexpected losses. That type of chaos only helps. The more chaos across college football, the better for Nick Saban’s squad.

This unfamiliar predicament for the Tide gets even stranger when you consider one team which could help itself and Alabama this weekend: the Auburn Tigers.

Auburn is a 2.5 point underdog at home to Georgia this weekend. For a few reasons, a big Auburn victory could help Alabama navigate the treacherous playoff waters in the weeks ahead.

Don’t be surprised if the committee slots Alabama in the fourth spot in this week’s rankings. The committee said publicly how highly they thought of Alabama’s personnel. If that happens, then look for Georgia to be nipping at the Tide’s heels in the fifth spot. Maybe Georgia comes in at 4 and Alabama at 5.

Either way, Alabama needs Georgia to go away.

A one-loss Georgia SEC champion means Alabama is out of the playoff. LSU would still get in, but there would not be any room for a third SEC team. At least a sliver of hope would exist if Georgia were a two-loss SEC champion. There is precedent for this situation. Penn State was a two-loss Big 10 champ and failed to make the playoff over a one-loss Ohio State which did not play in its conference championship game. Plus, Georgia has an inexplicable loss to an awful South Carolina team on its record. And then there’s the certainty that a three-loss Georgia team goes away like Alabama would want it to.

More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that Auburn beating Georgia sets up the opportunity for Alabama to pick up a much-needed victory over a top-10 team. A win on the road over a highly-ranked Auburn team would give the committee the cover it needs to tuck Alabama into that fourth position in the final rankings.

It would also help Alabama’s resume in direct comparison to one other team vying for the back end of the playoff seedings. Oregon dropped a close game to Auburn in the season opener and has been trying to play catchup ever since.

A one-loss PAC 12 champion Oregon would be looking to make its second college football playoff appearance. While the committee’s criteria calls for weight being given to conference championships, it also calls for the same consideration of common opponents.

Expect them to look closely at how Alabama handled Auburn compared to Oregon’s showing in Dallas.

The Iron Bowl is always better among top-10 teams. But this year, Alabama needs it to happen.

Come on, Tide fans, warm up the pipes for this weekend: “War Eagle!”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

4 weeks ago

Alabama vs. LSU postgame — 4 takeaways

Saturday, No. 2 LSU handed the 3rd-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide its first loss of the season.

Here are four quick takeaways:

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Two SEC teams showed up to Bryant-Denny, and a Big 12 game broke out. Defense was optional today. The teams combined for a total of 46 points – at the half. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa combined for 424 passing yards – at the half. When the smoke finally cleared, these teams put 87 points on the scoreboard and combined for 1,000 yards of offense. Mike Gundy and Lincoln Riley would have been proud.

The middle of the field was open for business for the LSU offense. Burrow feasted on the middle of the field. There was not a lot of help for Alabama defensive backs on any routes going over the middle. One adjustment we didn’t see until briefly in the fourth quarter was getting some pressure up the middle. Quarterbacks hate getting pressured up the middle. Bama effectively got some pressure from the outside but never up the middle in a way that would affect his vision and those throws he hit all night. And that was where LSU went when Alabama really needed to make a stop in the fourth quarter after getting within 5; LSU went across the middle to Ja’Marr Chase for a critical first down that thwarted the Bama rally.

Tide MVP: Najee Harris. At halftime, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said this to the CBS on-field reporter in response to her question about Tua’s health affecting Alabama’s play:

“I don’t think our whole offense looked like themselves. I don’t think you can blame it on Tua. I don’t think it has anything to do with his physical ability. We’re behind the 8-ball with penalties. We haven’t been able to run the ball effectively.”

The valuable piece of information in that interview was the last sentence. The Crimson Tide came out in the second half and committed to the run, and it opened up the whole offense. Harris played huge in the third and fourth quarters and nearly led Alabama to a come-from-behind victory. He finished with 146 yards on the ground and 44 receiving yards. His incredible touchdown catch was probably the play of the game for Alabama’s offense.

There is still a path to the playoff. Analytics gurus FiveThirtyEight now have the Crimson Tide with a 12% chance to make the playoff. Alabama needs for Ohio State to win out, especially against Penn State. The Tide do not need a Penn State upset over Ohio State so as to avoid them jumping in front of them as the highest-ranked one loss team at the end. Georgia may sneak ahead of the Tide this week but they may end up with a second loss by the end of the season. A little chaos in the Big 12 and PAC 12 would also be welcome. As difficult as it is to consider, fans of the Crimson Tide also need to become fans of LSU to win out for the same reason as Ohio State. It gets tricky, and they don’t control their own destiny anymore, but strange things can happen in college football during the month of November.

1 month ago

Barry Moore makes it official in AL-02 race, joins long list of Alabama candidates touting Trump connection

Contributed

Count Barry Moore in for the campaign to represent Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Also, count Moore in as the next in line to make his support for President Donald Trump the centerpiece of his effort.

Moore qualified on Wednesday to run in the Republican primary for Congress in the southeast Alabama district, according to a statement from his campaign.

The small businessman and former state representative believes his experience in the construction and waste hauling industries provides him a unique perspective in this race.

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“You can tell a lot about a man by looking at his hands,” said Moore. “If you look at my hands, you’ll see calluses, calluses I got from hard work. I think it’s time we had a working man in Congress. I’m running in this election because I want to work for all the people in District 2. From Prattville to Florala, from Autaugaville to Andalusia, from Evergreen to Enterprise, Cottonwood to Wetumpka and Montgomery to Dothan, I want to represent every person in District 2.”

Moore cited his early support for Trump in 2016. According to Moore, he was among the first elected officials in the state to endorse the president.

“We need someone with calluses and courage in Washington, standing up for conservative Alabama values and supporting President Trump,” he remarked. “That’s what I’ll do when I’m elected as District 2’s representative next November.”

The Republican primary for the seat being vacated by Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) portends to be a hotly contested race among a field of four candidates, none of whom currently hold elected office. In addition to Moore, Prattville businesswoman Jessica Taylor, Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman and former Alabama Attorney General Troy King are running to serve in congress.

Moore and his wife, Heather, reside in Enterprise and have three children.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

1 month ago

Pursell Farms: This family-owned business showcases the best of ‘Alabama The Beautiful’

David Pursell’s family business has undergone significant transformation over the years.

It began as a fertilizer company started by his great-grandfather in the early 20th-century and now stands as the premier golf and vacation destination in the state of Alabama.

One thing has remained constant for the Pursell family, and that is the land they call home. It has been their family farm, a headquarters for the fertilizer business and now it is the property onto which the Pursells welcome visitors from all over the United States and the world.

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Pursell, who currently serves as CEO of Pursell Farms, lives on the property with his wife, Ellen. From their house, they are able to stay involved in every detail of the business and also enjoy the natural beauty of the farm by simply looking out of any window.

That view is one of which Pursell never tires.

“It’s an amazing view and I realize that I am super blessed to be able to live out here but also to live in Alabama and live in this country,” he said. “We take it for granted, but it’s an amazing privilege to live here. I try to remember that every day.”

A world-renowned destination

For him, “here” means the 3,200 acres on which Pursell Farms sits in Sylacauga, Alabama. This includes FarmLinks golf course, an 81-room inn, three restaurants and a wedding venue which holds up to 350 people.

In its 16th year, FarmLinks was voted once again the number one golf course in Alabama by Golf Week. And the wedding venue has a fairy tale quality about it. Visitors are struck by the seeming perfection of the scenery and grounds, with nary a blade of grass out of place.

One of the newest additions to the property is the Orvis shooting grounds.

Pursell Farms’ collaboration with the acclaimed outfitter and sporting company is a testament to the family’s reputation nationally among those in the sports and hospitality industries.

When Orvis wanted to add a shooting facility in the southeast – their biggest market – there was one place they had in mind.

“They called us,” recollected Pursell.

So, he went up to New York to meet the Perkins family, who owns Orvis, and to tour one of their facilities. Then the Perkins came down to Alabama.

“We drew up the contract on the back of a napkin,” Pursell said. “It wasn’t hours or days or weeks or months dealing with lawyers. It was just two family-owned companies saying, ‘This is what we are going to do, and this is how we are going to do it.’”

A true family business

The kind of agility that comes with being a family-run business traces its origins back more than 115 years.

Pursell’s great-grandfather, DeWitt Alexander Parker, founded Sylacauga Fertilizer Company in 1904. When he died in 1930, Pursell’s grandfather, Howard Arrington Parker, took over and ran it until the early 1960s.

As a result of some matchmaking by the great Alabama actor and entertainer, Jim Nabors, David Pursell’s father, Jimmy Pursell, married his wife Chris and joined the family business under Howard Parker’s tutelage.

RELATED: Matchmaking by actor Jim Nabors led to life on Pursell Farms

The extent to which the business was a family enterprise was impressed upon David Pursell at an early age.

“It’s been all these different generations of people,” he noted. “Again, about the land. The fertilizer business. There were a lot of cows involved always. And the mealtime conversations I just remember about the company. Even though I was young when I was coming up in the business, I actually was not sheltered from really anything about the fertilizer business itself. So, I learned a lot just around the dinner table.”

His first job was working in the family business as a 12-year old shoveling cottonseed in the warehouse. He has been at it ever since.

“All through high school I worked in the family fertilizer plant here in Sylacauga,” he remembered. “Went to Auburn, came back every summer, worked on the family farm here. Or doing something with the family business. So, when I get out of Auburn in December of 1980 it was never even a thought of going to work anywhere else. This was something I knew. It was in my blood, but it was a passion because I knew so much about it. It was kind of like ‘Hey, this is my family heritage.’”

Not only did he decide to enter the family business, but he also got married and moved out to live on the farm for the first time. That is where he and Ellen began raising what would ultimately become a family with six children.

During that time, Pursell and his family came to really know the land through time spent on it and with the help of a couple of four-wheelers they owned.

“At one time we didn’t even have a TV set,” he said. “We would just kind of takeoff and go on these adventures and we would spend hours and hours and hours just going around the farm – what is now Pursell Farms that nobody ever got a chance to see.”

RELATED: Enjoy the breathtaking view from atop Pursell Farms

Something his creative mind did see on those jaunts was the potential of the land and what it could become – what it has become today.

“Although I was in my early twenties, I didn’t have the means to do squat, so it was just kind of something I stored,” he remarked. “I guess you could say I stored it up in my heart. It was an amazing time to really get to know the land before it ever got transformed into the purposes that we used it for over the years or certainly what it is now.”

The evolution of the family business and Pursell Farms has been substantial during the four decades Pursell has lived on his family’s land.

“We had this great run in the fertilizer business for probably about 85 years,” the Pursell Farms CEO explained. “And then we started getting involved in more technological advancements. We got involved in controlled release fertilizers.”

In the 1950s, the company developed a brand-name called Sta-Green. It was his father’s “brainchild,” according to Pursell.

Under this brand, they entered the consumer lawn and garden market for the first time in addition to marketing to ornamental nursery growers, golf courses and their traditional agricultural customer base.

“Rocket fuel” added to the business

Then the company made a monumental discovery that would change its course, and that of the entire industry.

It developed the POLYON fertilizer technology.

“Amazing technology,” described Pursell. “It was kind of like rocket fuel compared to kerosene. We’re from Sylacauga, Alabama. I can’t overemphasize that more. We were competing against public companies that were operating in foreign countries and whatever, and we were just Sylacauga. We only had one plant and it was right here in downtown Sylacauga.”

The company developed and patented the technology to manufacture a coating for application to any type of fertilizer product. The thicker the coating, the longer the product would last. They developed different grades for different uses. Certain grades were developed for agriculture, others for tasks as sensitive as fertilizing golf course greens. The release technology allowed it to last anywhere from six weeks to one-and-a-half years. Nothing like this had ever been done before.

The structure of the company changed, as well, in 1997 when the consumer fertilizer segment was sold off. Taylor Pursell, David’s brother, went with the new company to serve as its CEO. David Pursell also recalled it being a time when his father, Jimmy, was beginning to remove himself from the day-to-day operation of the business.

“So, this was really my baby to run with,” David Pursell said. “It was an exciting time, but it was also kind of scary when you think about it because we had a lot riding on it. At the time, we had very little sales. We were still trying to kind of figure out how we were going to put this company together. Our main goal was to take this rocket fuel, this POLYON technology and figure out how are we going to get this fertilizer technology applied to every golf course in North America.”

What they needed was a customer base who understood the product. Not an easy task given the complexity of the product and its use.

“You can’t just make a flyer on it and them get it,” explained Pursell.

Another challenge was the fact that the product sat at a higher price point than most on the market.

“We knew that if our potential customers, our prospective customers, if we could convince them and tell them the story and have them understand it that we couldn’t come up with a reason why they couldn’t buy it because it’s just a matter of getting the point across to them,” said Pursell.

He and his company came up with an innovative sales and marketing strategy: They brought their customers to Sylacauga.

The company moved its headquarters from downtown Sylacauga to the family property outside of town and onto the land that is now Pursell Farms.

RELATED: How did Renaissance art (and a pool table Ronald Reagan played on) get to Sylacauga?

It was through the creation and implementation of a “visitation strategy” that the Pursells invited prospective customers to the farm to “state the case” for the use of their unique fertilizer product.

After the company headquarters was constructed, they then built accommodations to host their customers. The experience consisted of a two-night trip of education and fellowship for 20 people at a time. The Pursells did this twice a week for 42 weeks out of the year.

“We were trying to put our best foot forward with people that we didn’t know,” Pursell outlined. “You have one chance to make a first impression, so to speak. So we wanted to kind of showcase the family, the family business, eventually we would get to the product. What we knew was that we needed to build a relationship with these people, first, before we would get them to buy anything from us.”

Even with all of the information that was exchanged about the product, Pursell believes the focus was really on one aspect of each growing relationship.

“Essentially, it’s building trust,” he declared. “The trust was built over this three-day period of time.”

He credits their ability to build the requisite trust as a result of southern hospitality mixed with the introduction of the technology.

“Everything we did, nobody else was doing at the time,” he noted.

When Pursell felt the need to take their sales to an entirely new level, he tapped into the vision he had held for the land all those years.

In 2001, they began construction of FarmLinks. By 2003, with the golf course complete, their customers could understand the product even better by seeing it in what he termed “a real laboratory.”

With the beauty of the property, “it’s a pretty easy sell when you get people here,” he observed.

“Even if somebody wanted to copy it, it would be pretty hard for them to do it just because it was a huge investment on our part,” Pursell explained. “And it was something, as I look in my rear view mirror, you can pat yourself on the back and say, ‘Yeah, it worked out great’ but we didn’t know that at the time it was going to work out as good as it did.”

He calculates they have hosted more than 10,000 golf course superintendents on the property and still meets some in his own travels around the country who remember everything about their trip.

“Weaponizing” southern hospitality

In 2005, they began to attract suitors for the fertilizer business, which subsequently sold the following year.

“The farm was never going to be for sale,” he said. “This was just a marketing tool that we used to build the business up. Then we had this nice earnings pattern. The business was growing.”

However, he had a feeling it was time to sell the company even though they were 102 years old.

Having spent some time working with the acquiring company, Pursell began to contemplate how his family could forge its way into the hospitality business.

Now, Pursell Farms is a preeminent destination, and the core of its business is marketing southern hospitality.

As Pursell likes to say, their family has built a business by “weaponizing” southern hospitality.

Harkening back to the years spent hosting potential customers of their fertilizer business, Pursell knows they have been in the business of southern hospitality for a long time.

One of the reasons they are so adept at delivering southern hospitality is because they live on the property.

“My wife calls it living above the storefront,” noted Pursell. “We are always going to be the worst critics.”

He says it matters more to them because it is a family-owned business. And their involvement has only increased with some of his children and their spouses having assumed active roles.

“Everything we do is a reflection on the family,” he explained. “The family is our brand now. We don’t have a fertilizer product, per se. So, we want to do things well – excellently – and we love hosting people.”

Their love of hosting people has translated into a heightened degree of satisfaction among their guests.

Pursell Farms possesses an extraordinarily high 97% TripAdvisor rating. This means 97% of the people who provided a rating could not have rated Pursell Farms any higher.

“We’ve always been about the land”

Margaret Mitchell once wrote that land “is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything.”

For David Pursell and his family, it has amounted to much and has served as a central point in their lives. It has bound together generations of his family. It has brought thousands of people from a countless number of places to them, and it has permitted their involvement in life’s worthwhile pursuits.

As he modestly concluded, “We’ve always been about the land.”

The Yellowhammer Legacy Series tells the stories of the people and places that make Alabama beautiful. Join us throughout the year in exploring different parts of the state to discover lasting contributions to Alabama’s extraordinary culture.

Listen to David Pursells’ entire conversation with Yellowhammer:

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

1 month ago

Yellowhammer Legacy Series: How did Renaissance art (and a pool table Ronald Reagan played on) get to Sylacauga?

(YHN)

There is only one piece of Renaissance art in Sylacauga – and maybe all of Alabama.

Watch to find out how it got there:

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This is just one of the many fascinating stories we heard when we sat down with Pursell Farms co-founder and CEO David Pursell as part of Yellowhammer’s Legacy Series. He shared with us the remarkable history behind his family’s business and the land he now calls home.

RELATED: Yellowhammer Legacy Series: Enjoy the breathtaking view from atop Pursell Farms

On November 7, Yellowhammer will publish a full-length feature on how Pursell Farms became an Alabama treasure.

The Yellowhammer Legacy Series tells the stories of the people and places that make Alabama beautiful. Join us throughout the year in exploring different parts of the state to discover lasting contributions to Alabama’s extraordinary culture.

1 month ago

Playoff committee ranks Alabama No. 3, Auburn No. 11 — 7 takeaways

(College Football Playoff/Facebook)

The college football playoff selection committee announced the first edition of its rankings on Tuesday night, with the Alabama Crimson Tide slotted in the third-highest spot and Auburn coming in at No. 11.

Here is some instant analysis of this week’s rankings.

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1. The committee respects the product Nick Saban is putting on the field. Despite the much-discussed deficiencies surrounding Alabama’s opponents so far, the committee ranked Saban’s squad No. 3. There’s no question members of the committee have watched the Crimson Tide play and recognize the elite talent and matching production, regardless of opponent.

2. Confidence in the Tide’s future schedule also makes it easy to tuck them safely inside the top four. Unlike Clemson, Alabama’s schedule will take care of itself. Alabama faces No. 2 LSU this weekend, No. 11 Auburn in the Iron Bowl and potentially a top 10 SEC East team in Atlanta. There’s no reason to overthink Alabama’s ranking knowing they will be sufficiently tested in the coming weeks.

3. A scenario now exists where an undefeated Clemson gets left out of the playoff. The ESPN studio team made a big deal out of the fact that getting left out of the top four would please Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. If that’s truly the case, then Swinney may learn to be careful of what he wishes for. Clemson’s schedule only gets worse, so there is a scenario where a couple of one-loss teams (PAC 12 champ Oregon, one-loss LSU) get in ahead of Swinney’s Tigers.

4. Is it better to lose to a clearly inferior opponent than a ranked opponent? We have always wondered if the playoff committee is more forgiving of losses to bad teams rather than in tests of near-equal talent. The Georgia Bulldogs enjoy a comfortable No. 6 ranking despite a bad loss at home to a sub-.500 South Carolina squad. In addition, the committee has ranked Utah No. 8 even with a loss to unranked USC and its embattled head coach Clay Helton. There is precedent, too. In consecutive years, Clemson lost to Pittsburgh and Syracuse and still made the playoff each year.

5. LSU may not drop out of the top four with a loss at Bryant-Denny Stadium this week. Maybe there is a reason why LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said there are going to be bigger games than this weekend’s tilt with the Crimson Tide. Or maybe this is more of the supreme confidence being displayed by LSU players. Sitting at No. 2 with two top-11 wins on its resume, LSU has to feel good about its chances of making the playoff no matter what happens Saturday.

6. There’s a lot left on the table for Auburn. Auburn is ranked a respectable No. 11. With the chance to pick up wins against the No. 6 and No. 3 teams in the country, a top six finish is not out the question for the Tigers. Look for some favorable matchups against Georgia to potentially create another heavyweight bout in the Iron Bowl.

7. Still a little chilly in Minnesota. The seven-time national champion Golden Gophers are off to their best start in years, and head coach P.J. Fleck just signed a lucrative seven-year extension. But all Fleck’s team has gotten for its 8-0 start is a No. 17 ranking. Minnesota currently sits directly behind two-loss teams Kansas State, Notre Dame, Michigan and Wisconsin.

1 month ago

Zeigler offers lessons learned from ‘a successful citizens’ movement’

(Auditor Jim Zeigler/Facebook, YHN)

Jim Zeigler is writing a book.

The twice-elected state auditor, ubiquitous in times of controversy, is putting pen to paper to tell the story of his involvement in the defeat of the Mobile Bay toll bridge project.

Zeigler provided Yellowhammer News a draft of the partially completed book.

Not only does it delve into some of the finer details surrounding the bridge plan, but Zeigler’s book also provides the blueprint for stoking and harnessing raw populist fervor in pursuit of any initiative.

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With the working title, Blocking the I-10 Toll Scheme: A Successful Citizens’ Movement, Zeigler offers insight into the strategies he employs when taking on big issues.

Leaving no doubt about his perspective on how to approach an issue, Zeigler begins the book with a quote from the famous Louisiana politician and populist stalwart, Huey P. Long: “When I advocated free bridges instead of toll bridges, it was called demagoguery.”

Long would likely have been proud of Zeigler’s zeal for the “citizens.” In one of the opening paragraphs, he uses the words “billionaire” and “billions” four times — and probably not in the same way Jeff Bezos does.

Zeigler quickly points out, though, that today’s technology allows for an even more intense opposition. Instead of the whistle stop tours and rousing speeches prevalent in Long’s day, Zeigler chooses to employ a different method for rallying the masses: Facebook.

He opted for the cheaper, quicker and more efficient method, and it quickly paid dividends.

“On May 12, I decided to step forward and lead the opposition,” he told Yellowhammer News. “I started the Facebook opposition group with one member: me. Within three months, we had 54,000 active members who would go to meetings, send emails, make phone calls, printed up at their own expense ‘No toll’ stickers and signs. The group didn’t start out with any money to do anything.”

Asked about the importance of social media in influencing public debate on issues, he confirmed, “If you do it right, it can make all the difference in the world.”

Zeigler also sought to convey in the book, in his words, “What lessons can we learn for other citizen issues.”

As part of these lessons, he lists several criteria needed to win on issues.

For example, he wrote that that a winning coalition should have “[a]n issue or cause that is simple to explain” and “[a]n issue or cause that clearly impacts people – in the pocketbook, or by seriously inconveniencing them, or by taking away their important rights or property, or by other clear and important effects.”

Emphasizing the importance of putting a face to the cause, he wrote that there should be a leader and “[s]omeone who can effectively harness news media coverage of the cause and group.”

Zeigler followed his list up with one more point he sees critical to a grassroots campaign:

There was one more thing we toll fighters had, possibly the most important, and that was a means to actually block the insider action. Not just to raise awareness, but to actually kill it… Many citizen movements fail to have an end game – a way to convert all that awareness into an actual victory – a legal or political killing of the insider scheme. Petition drives are the worst offenders. The citizens could get 10 million signatures, and the Insiders can still ignore them. Or they could get only ten signatures and yet get the action desired.

As for Zeigler’s next move, he said he is going to keep a close eye on toll proposals around the state, something he called “a continuing issue.”

In the near-term, stirring up a grassroots frenzy is going to be a family affair. He advised the next issue he takes on will be with his wife against the constitutional amendment appearing on the March 3 primary ballot. The proposed amendment would abolish the existing state school board.

“My wife, Jackie Zeigler, is the elected state board of education member from the first district, which is where the toll bridge impacted, mostly,” explained the state auditor. “And she is leading the vote no campaign for the March 3 Amendment 1. It’s a different type of issue, but she’s going to take advantage of the Facebook 54,000 members.”

Zeigler acknowledged the difficulty of getting people to care about an issue which may not directly affect them. In these cases, he said messaging is the key. He effectively reached people outside of the Mobile Bay area by saying, “A road or bridge near you could be the next toll project.”

Ever conscious of how to talk to “citizens,” Zeigler believes he has the correct message for his next fight.

“It would take away the right to vote on state board of education members,” he stated.

1 month ago

Yellowhammer Legacy Series: Enjoy the breathtaking view from atop Pursell Farms

The natural beauty of Pursell Farms is striking to anyone who visits. For owner David Pursell, there is one part of the property that is particularly special.

Watch to enjoy the breathtaking view from that spot and hear David explain what makes it so unique:

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As part of Yellowhammer’s Legacy Series, the Pursell Farms CEO shared with us the remarkable history behind his family’s business and the land he now calls home.

On November 7, Yellowhammer will publish a full-length feature on how Pursell Farms became an Alabama treasure.

RELATED: Yellowhammer Legacy Series: Matchmaking by actor Jim Nabors led to life on Pursell Farms

The Yellowhammer Legacy Series tells the stories of the people and places that make Alabama beautiful. Join us throughout the year in exploring different parts of the state to discover lasting contributions to Alabama’s extraordinary culture.

1 month ago

National college football pundit pegs Malzahn as best fit for Florida State job

(Bruce Nix/Alabama NewsCenter)

Within only a few hours of Florida State’s firing of head coach Willie Taggart, one national college football pundit said he thinks Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn should be the choice to fill the vacancy.

In a series of tweets on Sunday evening, USA Today columnist Dan Wolken outlined his case for why Florida State should hire Malzahn.

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Wolken considers the likelihood of Florida State finding a coach better than Malzahn to be low.

Wolken even pointed to Malzahn’s record against Alabama head coach Nick Saban to support his argument.

Florida State made the decision to fire Taggart in the middle of only his second season leading the program. The Seminoles’ record this season stands at 4-5 overall and 3-4 in the ACC. Taggart held a 9-12 record as Florida State’s head coach, including a combined 0-5 against rivals Florida, Miami and Clemson.

Malzahn signed a 7-year, $49 million contract at the end of the 2017 season. Malzahn’s 2019 salary of $6.8 million places him sixth among the nation’s head coaches, according to USA Today’s annual survey of coaching salaries.

Malzahn possesses a prohibitive $27 million buyout as of December 1, 2019, making Wolken’s scenario unlikely unless both sides were to agree separation was in their best interests.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

1 month ago

Yellowhammer Legacy Series: Matchmaking by actor Jim Nabors led to life on Pursell Farms

As part of Yellowhammer’s Legacy Series, we sat down with Pursell Farms co-founder and CEO David Pursell. He shared with us the remarkable history behind his family’s business and the land he now calls home.

Along the way, we heard some fascinating stories.

Listen to David Pursell explain how world-famous actor and Alabama native Jim Nabors played matchmaker to David’s parents under some extenuating circumstances:

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On Thursday, November 7, Yellowhammer will publish a full-length feature on how Pursell Farms became an Alabama treasure.

The Yellowhammer Legacy Series tells the stories of the people and places that make Alabama beautiful. Join us throughout the year in exploring different parts of the state to discover lasting contributions to Alabama’s extraordinary culture.