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.

2 days ago

This weekend’s comprehensive college football TV schedule

(YHN)

For a printable version, click here. Pro tip: Save the image below to your phone for quick and easy access all weekend.

(Note: All times are Central)

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2 days ago

Nick Saban named to Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame 2020 induction class

(Univ. of Alabama Football/Twitter)

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame next year.

The announcement was made in a release this week.

Saban is being inducted as the former head football coach at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he won 75% of his games and the 2003 national championship in five seasons with the Tigers.

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The class of 2020 will be enshrined June 27 in Natchitoches, LA.

A 35-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the inductees. The panel considered a record 150 nominees from 31 different sport categories on a 33-page ballot, explained Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland.

Here is what the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame wrote about Saban:

Saban went 48-16 from 2000-04 at LSU before jumping to the NFL for two seasons as head coach in Miami, then returning to college football at Alabama, where he has captured five more national championships since 2009. His Tigers won Southeastern Conference championships in 2001 and 2003, reigning as SEC West Division champs from 2001-03, and he won his first national and SEC coach of the year awards while guiding LSU to the 2003 BCS national crown. He is the first sitting college coach elected to the Hall since Grambling’s Eddie Robinson (1985).

Saban carved his prominent place in state sports history with the 2003 BCS national title win by his LSU squad over Oklahoma in the Superdome. His Tigers compiled a 48-16 (28-12 SEC) record in Baton Rouge, part of his 232-63-1 mark as a college head coach entering 2019.

Saban is the first coach to win a national title with two different FBS schools since the inception of the Associated Press rankings in 1936. Saban and Bear Bryant are the only coaches to win SEC crowns at different schools. His collection of national championships equals the record set by Bryant.

Among Saban’s coaching tree, former LSU assistants Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart are current SEC head coaches and Derek Dooley was coach at Tennessee. He is a 2013 inductee in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Saban’s Crimson Tide have beaten LSU eight consecutive times, with the Tigers last winning on November 5, 2011.

UA’s football program celebrated Saban’s coming induction in a tweet on Wednesday.

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

1 week ago

On this day in Alabama history: Talladega Superspeedway held first race

(Screenshot/YouTube)

Sept. 13, 1969

Bill France Sr., founder of NASCAR, helped created the Talladega Superspeedway in the late 1960s at a time most major tracks were located along the Atlantic Coast. France wanted a track more centrally located in the Southeast and chose a 2,000-acre site off Interstate 20 near the town of Talladega. Track construction began in May 1968, and the facility opened the next year as the Alabama International Motor Speedway. The first race, the Bama 400, was held on this day in 1969. Talladega is NASCAR’s largest race track and typically produces the fastest race speeds in the circuit. The Superspeedway is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a $50 million “Transformation” project that includes a new infield fan zone and garages.

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Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 week ago

Univ. of Alabama, Auburn have two of America’s ‘most valuable’ college football teams

(UA/AU)

According to a report published Thursday by Forbes, the University of Alabama and Auburn University have two of the top-10 “most valuable” college football programs in the country.

The rankings detailed three-year averages for both revenue and profits.

“So much for amateur athletics—the sport’s 25 most valuable programs combine to earn an average of $1.5 billion in profit on annual revenues of $2.7 billion,” Forbes noted.

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With average annual revenue of $134 million and profit of $61 million, the Crimson Tide ranked fourth.

Auburn, with average annual revenue of $117 million and profit of $65 million, came in at number 10.

Texas A&M barely edged out Texas for first place, followed by Michigan.

Other SEC schools in the top-25 included Georgia at seven, Florida at nine, LSU at 11, Tennessee at 12, South Carolina and Arkansas tied at 16 and Ole Miss at 24.

Forbes advised that the Tide are “the sport’s biggest spenders by far; with $74 million in average annual football spending, Alabama shells out 30% more than the next-highest-spending program in the country.”

“Alabama, meanwhile, is one of just five teams to earn more than $30 million annually from media rights,” the publication said.

RELATED: University of Alabama named top college football program of last 150 years; Auburn no. 20

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

2 weeks ago

Auburn University bass fishing team celebrates national championship victory

(Auburn University Bass Fishing Team/Facebook)

The Auburn University bass fishing team recently won the first-ever Major League Fishing College Redcrest National Championship, marking another impressive milestone for the most dominant collegiate angling program in the country.

The event was held on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin, last month.

In a release from the university in recent days, Logan Parks, vice president of the team, commented, “It’s pretty sweet to be able to say we are the first-ever Redcrest National Champions. We are looking forward to defending our title next year.”

The Auburn University Bass Fishing team is currently the top-ranked Division I team in the country, and it has held this impressive ranking almost every year since the team was founded in 2007.

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Additionally, Auburn’s team is the only one ever to qualify and send a boat to every Fishing League Worldwide National Championship.

The team has some notable former members, including the winner of the Bassmaster Classic in 2017 and 2018, Jordan Lee, and his brother, Matt, who won the Carhartt College Bassmaster Classic Bracket.

“Jordan actually took another team member and me fishing in eighth grade when we first started our high school team at Auburn High School,” Parks said. “Ever since then, all we’ve wanted to do is come to Auburn and fish.”

This season, team members will compete in 15 to 20 events. Parks said he is honored to be able to compete for the same program as angling stars like Lee.

“To be able to represent the same school they did makes us set high standards for ourselves,” Parks emphasized. “They left a legacy for us to carry on and we plan on doing that.”

Team members included Parks, a junior studying supply chain management; Lucas Lindsay, a junior studying agricultural science; Will Phillips, a senior studying mechanical engineering; Chase Mundhenke, a sophomore studying agriculture business and economics; Patch Pelt, a senior studying building science; and Anthony Vintson, a senior studying accounting.

These individuals represented Auburn on three boats and brought home the recent title from the Redcrest National Championships. The team received an invitation to participate in this prestigious competition because it qualified and was ranked among the top five schools in America based on the competition’s unique point system.

The Auburn team’s top two boats caught a combined weight of nearly 97 pounds, winning them the competition and being seven pounds heavier than any of the other schools that competed.

“We ended up putting together a game plan and found enough fish to win,” Parks explained.

This came after Auburn’s team had already won the Major League Fishing College Iron Bowl held in May.

(Photo: Auburn University Bass Fishing Team/Facebook)

RELATED: Alabama high school students win Bassmaster championship for second consecutive year

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

2 weeks ago

This weekend’s comprehensive college football TV schedule

For a printable version, click here. Pro tip: Save the image below to your phone for quick and easy access all weekend.

(Note: All times are Central)

1
2 weeks ago

New University of Alabama radio station provides information for football fans

(University of Alabama/Contributed)

When Crimson Tide fans travel to Tuscaloosa for football games, they will have a new way of getting information.

UA Info Radio is broadcasting on 92.5 FM and streaming through ready.ua.edu, the UA Safety app and the UA Gameday app.

“We have one of the best game day experiences in the nation, and UA Info Radio will only make the experience better for our fans,” said Dr. Donald Keith, director of emergency management at the University of Alabama. “As fans drive into Tuscaloosa, they can tune in and hear the information they need before arriving on campus.”

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On game days, UA Info Radio will provide pre- and postgame traffic updates as well as information on parking and pregame events, such as the family-friendly tailgate area and autograph sessions with former football players. Fans will hear fun facts about the Crimson Tide. Music selections from the Million Dollar Band, including “Yea, Alabama,” will help everyone get pumped up for the game.

Additionally, game-day-specific safety tips, such as what to do if you get separated from your party or how to contact University police, will be broadcast. In the event of severe weather or other emergencies that may occur during the game, UA Info Radio will provide fans with important safety information.

When not broadcasting about game day, UA Info Radio airs information on campus events, such as performances by UA’s theatre and dance department, selections from the School of Music and interesting facts about the Capstone.

In the event of severe weather for the Tuscaloosa area, UA Info Radio will provide updates and information to help faculty, staff, students and visitors stay safe.

UA began the process of acquiring a low-power FM, non-commercial radio station for public safety after the April 27, 2011, tornado that destroyed much of Tuscaloosa.

“After the tornado, when the electricity was out for several days, the only way for many people to get information was through a battery-operated radio,” Keith said. “We decided at that time that UA needed a radio station that could be used to distribute information in the case of an emergency. UA Info Radio is just another tool we use to help keep people safe on our campus.”

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 weeks ago

JSU to start selling alcohol at home football games on Saturday

(JSU Athletics/Twitter)

Jacksonville State University’s athletics department this week announced it will implement alcohol sales before and during football games at JSU Stadium’s Burgess-Snow Field beginning with Saturday’s home opener against Chattanooga.

Kiosks will be added to the concourse specifically for beer sales. Beer will be sold by trained and licensed servers at five designated points of sales and will be served only by trained team members, within governing regulations. No alcohol will be sold or available at any of the current concession stands to expedite the waits for other concession products.

“We are always looking for ways to improve upon what is already one of the best fan experiences in FCS football, and this is another way to offer more for fans attending our games,” JSU athletics director Greg Seitz said in a statement.

“Universities across the country have seen both a decrease in alcohol-related incidents and an enhanced fan experience when they provide a controlled environment for alcohol sales,” he added.

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Over the last several months, JSU’s athletic department reportedly began developing policies, infrastructure and partnerships to support the responsible sale of alcohol at their home football stadium. Throughout the process, JSU athletics staff mandated policies that emphasized safety and security of fans before, during and after events.

“First and foremost, we are committed to providing a safe, family-friendly atmosphere in our venues,” Seitz explained. “We have worked hard to develop a responsible plan for this new offering at our games, and our game day staff will partner with our campus police department, local law enforcement and other campus constituents to provide a safe and positive environment for everyone in attendance.”

Beer sales will begin once the gates are opened to the general public and conclude at the end of the third quarter. At no time will alcoholic beverages be allowed to leave JSU Stadium. A maximum of two alcoholic beverages may be purchased per transaction.

All patrons will be required to produce a valid photo ID when purchasing any alcoholic beverage inside the stadium. Acceptable photo IDs must have the holder’s birthday and include valid driver’s licenses, military ID cards, passports and government-issued photo ID cards.

Patrons consuming alcohol must be able to produce a valid photo ID at all times, and stadium personnel may ask to see an ID at locations away from the point of sale. JSU Athletics emphasized that anyone consuming alcohol must be able to prove – at any time or location – they are age 21 or older.

“We are implementing a number of corresponding initiatives aimed at preventing underage consumption and promoting responsible choices, including a ‘We ID Program,'” Seitz advised.

“These new changes will give fans the game day experience they have been asking for, and the commitment and partnership between our members, retailers and universities will help create a safe environment for all attendees,” he concluded.

To be clear, liquor will not be sold.

Read more details here.

RELATED: JSU football hype video generates controversy for crucifixion imagery

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

2 weeks ago

Alabama Athletics raises record $106 million during Fiscal Year 2019

(Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama)

The University of Alabama Department of Athletics announced Friday that it raised a record of more than $106 million in the 2019 Fiscal Year from pledges and gifts to the Crimson Tide Foundation and donations to TIDE PRIDE.

The fundraising success, along with the University of Alabama Board of Trustees and presidential approval, allows for Phase I of The Crimson Standard, including Bryant-Denny Stadium and Rhoads Stadium, to move forward.

“We are excited to proceed with our first phase of The Crimson Standard,” said Greg Byrne, Alabama director of athletics. “As we’ve said since this project was announced, evolution of our facilities is critical to the success of our programs.”

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Byrne added, “We would like to thank The University of Alabama Board of Trustees, Chancellor St. John, President Pro Tempore Gray and President Bell for their support and approval of this project. We would also like to thank all of those who have contributed to The Crimson Standard thus far to help us reach our goals.”

As of today, nearly $270 million of the $600 million for this 10-year capital initiative has been committed.

Alabama Athletics announced in a press release, “Construction is slated to begin this month at Rhoads Stadium, while renovations to Bryant-Denny Stadium will start at the conclusion of the 2019 football season. The new Sports Science Center, which will be located in the Mal Moore Athletic Facility, is also part of the Phase I plans and is currently out for bid.”

“We are grateful for the support of all of our donors and thank each and everyone for helping us achieve a record-breaking year,” said J Batt, Alabama senior associate athletics director for development. “These philanthropic gifts are vital for us as we continue to move ahead with The Crimson Standard.”

The announcement also said fans will have the opportunity “to reserve seats in the new premium areas that will be available on the west side of Bryant-Denny Stadium beginning with the 2020 football season.” Options include loge boxes, the Champions Club and the Terrace Club.

For more information on The Crimson Standard, visit CrimsonTideFoundation.org.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

2 weeks ago

New game day shuttle service available around Jordan-Hare Stadium this football season

(Auburn Football/Facebook, YHN)

Auburn Athletics on Thursday announced it is partnering with Slidr to offer a new game day shuttle service throughout the areas adjacent to Jordan-Hare Stadium this football season.

The fare service will take patrons from outside the stadium security barricade boundaries to any location inside that perimeter, including right up to the stadium itself. The service pickup area outside the perimeter runs from the corner of Glenn Avenue and Gay Street west to Byrd Street and south to Woodfield Drive.

The fare will be $3 per person, and service begins three hours prior to kickoff. Shuttle service will be suspended at the end of the first quarter and resume at the start of the fourth quarter, running two to three hours postgame.

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Map of Slidr’s football game day coverage area in Auburn (Contributed)

Patrons may use the Slidr app on iPhone or Android to order service, or call the local contact number 334-703-4213. Payment can be made by cash or debit/credit card at the drop-off point. No payment can be made through the app.

Each Slidr vehicle is a five-passenger, low-speed vehicle that meets all required safety standards, according to Auburn Athletics. Slidr, based out of Boca Raton, Florida, will be the only provider with access through the game day barricades.

Auburn opens their 2019 home schedule on Saturday against Tulane at 6:30 p.m.

RELATED: Auburn implementing metal detectors at Jordan-Hare Stadium

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

2 weeks ago

Nick Saban: ‘Miss Terry made me’ run on treadmill after Duke penalty

(Nick's Kids Foundation/Facebook)

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said at a press conference this week that his wife, Terry Saban, made him run on a treadmill after he received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during last weekend’s game against the Duke Blue Devils.

“Miss Terry made me run on the treadmill for 20 minutes,” Saban told reporters. “The leadership group had a meeting, and they wanted to implement some disciplinary action, but it kind of got overruled. But I’m not proud of it. I really am not.”

Watch:

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“In all honesty, there was somebody in the white, it wasn’t a player, it was a coach,” Saban said in regards to the 15-yard penalty. “I thought they were upset because the players were celebrating a good play and that sort of fueled my reaction. … It is what it is. I’ll learn from it much like the players learn from their mistakes.”

After a 42-3 blowout against Duke, Alabama is set to host New Mexico State at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday for its home opener.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

2 weeks ago

‘When you get to the top of the mountain, you become the mountain’: Saban stars in new HBO film

(NFL Films/Twitter)

Nick Saban and Bill Belichick are unquestioned sporting legends. However, who they are as individuals goes way beyond the game of football.

HBO and NFL Films on Tuesday announced the upcoming premier of a new feature-length documentary on the respective head football coaches of the New England Patriots and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, “Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching.”

While offering a unique window into the life of each coach, the documentary will focus on Saban and Belichick’s longstanding friendship.

Along with a press release, HBO and NFL Films released an official teaser video.

Watch:

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“Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching” will premiere Tuesday, December 10 at 8:00 p.m. CST exclusively on HBO. The documentary runs 90-minutes long and will also be subsequently available on HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and HBO partners’ streaming platforms.

In a statement, Peter Nelson, executive vice president of HBO Sports, commented, “Bill Belichick and Nick Saban have earned their rightful place in the pantheon of greatest coaches ever, across all sports, and this film intimately spotlights their woven history from Navy to Cleveland to now.”

“It will capture for the first-time ever some of the most engaging and personal conversations held every year by the two most towering figures in the game today,” he continued. “We are excited to partner with NFL Films to tell this unique story of friendship and mentorship.”

The documentary seeks to bring into focus a four-decade-long friendship between the two football giants. Belichick and Saban reportedly granted “unprecedented” camera access to their annual coaching retreat, where they shared a multi-layered conversation about their interwoven history, admiration, coaching philosophies and much more. The intimate portrait will invite viewers to examine first-hand their blueprints for organizational success, in what can only be described as a literal “meeting of the minds.”

Combined with one-on-one interviews and extensive inside access captured over the past three decades, “Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching” includes topics never publicly broached before, including their fathers’ respective influences on their careers, their tenure with the Cleveland Browns organization in the 1990s and how they connect with the current generation of players.

The documentary also features interviews with peers, assistant coaches and family members, including both coaches’ children, Hall of Fame tight end and former Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, among many others.

“Bill Belichick and Nick Saban have become the modern versions of Vince Lombardi and John Wooden – symbols of success not just in sports, but in life,” Ross Ketover, chief executive of NFL Films, added. “Their lessons on leadership are an inspiration; not just for those of us who love football, but for anyone who wants to thrive at whatever passion they pursue.”

Belichick and Saban met in 1982 in Annapolis, Maryland, home of the United States Naval Academy, where Saban served as an assistant coach alongside Bill’s father, Steve Belichick. Their first encounter sparked one of football’s most influential friendships.

In 1991, Belichick was named head coach of the Cleveland Browns, and shortly thereafter he hired Saban to command his defense. Under their tutelage, the Browns produced one of the NFL’s most formidable units. Their early success foreshadowed more than two decades of dominance.

Since then, Belichick has led the New England Patriots to six Super Bowl victories, and his 292 career wins rank third all-time in NFL history. The powerhouse organization built by Belichick in Foxborough has resulted in 16 AFC East titles and nine AFC Conference championships.

Saban, meanwhile, has amassed six national championships and 232 career victories between stints at Toledo, Michigan State, LSU and Alabama. Five of his national titles have occurred since Saban’s 2007 arrival in Tuscaloosa. His “success with the Crimson Tide has turned him into an iconic figure, fueled by a winning percentage of .874 since taking over at Alabama,” HBO and NFL Films said.

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

3 weeks ago

Auburn moves up six spots in AP poll; Alabama steady in second, makes history

(UA/AU)

The first regular-season AP college football poll of the year has both the University of Alabama and Auburn University in the top 10.

After defeating Duke handily over the Labor Day weekend, the Crimson Tide held onto their preseason ranking as the nation’s second-best team.

While coach Nick Saban’s team will have their sights on being nothing short of the best this season, the program’s consistent success led to yet another record being broken this week.

According to The Associated Press, this marked the 56th consecutive week, dating to November 8, 2015, that UA ranked in the top five of the AP poll.

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That breaks a tie with the University of Miami, which went 55 straight weeks in the same metric from October 8, 2000-October 26, 2003.

The poll also came as good news for Auburn, which rose six spots to number 10 after a comeback victory against the University of Oregon on Saturday night.

There were a total of six SEC teams in the AP’s top 12 this week.

The Associated Press began its college football poll on October 19, 1936, and it is now the longest-running poll of those that award national titles at the end of the season. The AP preseason poll was started in 1950. A panel of 62 sports writers and broadcasters from around the country votes on the poll weekly.

This weekly AP poll is presented by Regions Bank.

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

3 weeks ago

Auburn golfer named to watch list for nation’s top collegiate award

(Photo credit: Cy Cyr/Golf Channel)

Auburn University men’s golfer Jovan Rebula is turning heads across the nation heading into the 2019-2020 season.

On Friday, the Golf Channel announced that the senior has been chosen to the Haskins Award Watch List.

Rebula is one of just 25 golfers in the country to be on this watch list for the most prestigious honor awarded to the nation’s top college golfer annually.

In fact, Golf Channel’s preseason ranking placed Rebula at number six on the list, elevating his status among America’s elite collegiate golfers even further.

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He trailed only Texas’ Cole Hammer, Arizona State’s Chun An Yu, Florida State’s John Pak, Vanderbilt’s John Augenstein and Oklahoma State’s Austin Eckroat.

Past winners of the Haskins Award include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ben Crenshaw.

Last season’s Southeastern Conference individual champion, Rebula was an All-SEC selection and earned All-American honors for the second season. He shot a team-best 71.34 strokes per round in 2018-19 and had 15 circuits under par, including 13 in the 60s.

Additionally, Rebula was the team’s top finisher in three tournaments a season ago and secured five top-10 finishes.

The Tigers tee off the upcoming season September 23-24 in Toledo, Ohio, for the Inverness Intercollegiate at Inverness Club. Auburn’s team sits at eighth in Golfweek’s national preseason rankings.

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

3 weeks ago

Jerusalem’s biggest Bama fan is ready for some Alabama Crimson Tide football

Hani Imam's Alabama: The Heart of Dixie store in Jerusalem attracts Tide fans and those curious about the shop's connection to the Crimson Tide. Many items marry local items with the his beloved football team and school. (contributed)

While it can be hard to claim absolutes, it’s a safe bet that Hani Imam is the biggest Alabama Crimson Tide fan on his street. In his neighborhood. In his city. In his country.

It’s a claim that would be hard to make in a place like Tuscaloosa, Birmingham or pretty much any Alabama or Southern city. It would even be debatable in many U.S. cities.

But Imam lives in Jerusalem, Israel. His shop is a destination for those Tide fans making a Holy Land pilgrimage. Everyone from talk show host Conan O’Brien to Alabama U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne have documented their visits to the shop.

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“My store is my biggest statement as an Alabama fan,” Imam said. “I love it when Americans walk in my store with their mouth open. I just laugh and yell, ‘Roll Tide,’ and they laugh and scream and holler.”

RELATED: Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide found on the streets of Jerusalem

Hani Imam owns a store in the dark and covered alleys of heart of Jerusalem. In the store, Alabama, The Heart of Dixie, you won’t find what most shops sell, from Red Sea stones to frankincense to stars of David to wooden rosaries to Jewish prayer shawls to bottles of holy water.

What you will find is all kinds of Alabama merchandise such as footballs, photographs, plates, shirts, art of football players, signed items, souvenirs and memorabilia with the Alabama logo front and center.

When I called Imam from Birmingham, it was midnight is Israel. He was still excited to wake up and talk about the Crimson Tide and his shop. When asked about Alabama’s loss in the national championship game last season, Imam’s voice dropped a couple of notches.

“We just did not show up last year against Clemson,” he shrugged. “I wouldn’t have been as upset had we played a good game, you know, a close game where the players played to the wire. They just didn’t, and that was very upsetting. That game was a disaster.”

Alabama lost to Clemson 44-16. Imam believes the team has learned from the loss.

“We are ready this year,” he said. “We learned from what happened, and the new coaching staff is very strong. We will win the national championship this year. We have a tough schedule, but we will win for sure. We have seven new assistant coaches; we will show up this year.”

RELATED: Jerusalem’s biggest Crimson Tide fan ready for Alabama football season

The new assistant coaches include Steve Sarkisian, who rejoined the staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and Pete Golding who was promoted to defensive coordinator after being linebackers coach last year. Charles Kelly was named associate defensive coordinator and safeties coach, and Brian Baker is be defensive line coach and associate head coach. Sal Sunseri coaches the linebackers, Kyle Flood coaches the offensive line, and Holmon Wiggins coaches the wide receivers.

“This might be the strongest coaching staff we have ever had on the team,” Imam said. “When you combine that with what happened last year, what I mean is what the players learned, to show up for the game, we are winning the national championship for sure. Here is another reason why I think Alabama will win this year: The players have the heart for the win.”

Hani Imam was born in the West Bank and lived in Israel most of his life, but attended the University of Alabama from 1985 to 1989. He majored in Business Administration and became a huge Alabama fan. He loves showing his loyalty at his store.

“All the locals want to know why I am such a big fan,” he said. “I tell them Alabama has the greatest football team ever. Then they ask me what ‘Roll Tide’ means, and I say it means the same thing, the greatest football team ever. My favorite part, and what I have loved for years, is when an Alabama fan walks in with disbelief in their eyes. It’s like they’re dreaming. They look around, then look at me and point to the store sign. I just laugh and say, ‘Roll Tide.’ It never gets old.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

Parents and adult fans: The biggest challenge facing high school sports today

(AHSAA/Contributed, YHN)

Inappropriate adult behavior at high school athletic events in Alabama is a growing concern.

When more than 2,000 high school athletic directors were asked in a recent national survey what they like least about their job, 62.3% said it was “dealing with aggressive parents and adult fans.”

The men and women who wear the black and white stripes agree. In fact, almost 80% of officials quit after the first two years on the job because of the actions of unruly fans. As a result, there is a growing shortage of high school officials here in Alabama, and in some sports like wrestling, swimming, and track and field, the shortage is severe. Contests cannot be played without officials. As a result, we need to do everything we can to keep good officials officiating and to make the sporting event a positive experience for all.

If you are a parent or adult fan attending a high school athletic event this fall, you can help by following these six guidelines:

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1. Be the responsible one. You are the adult whom others model behavior after. Your behavior should not be a negative reflection or impression on your family or school. Make them both proud by being the model of good sportsmanship.

2. Parents should not live their lives vicariously through their children. High school sports are educational athletic opportunities for the student-athletes. Your family’s reputation is not determined by how well your children perform on the field of play.

3. Let your children talk to the coach instead of you doing it for them. High school athletes learn how to become more confident, independent and capable through open communication with their coaches. Let your children discuss concerns with their coaches, and you be their supportive listener when they share the discussion with you.

4. Be supportive. No matter how much you disagree with the coach’s decision or official’s call, avoid coaching or officiating from the sidelines. Your role is to be a responsible, supportive parent — not a coach or official.

5. Remember, participating in a high school sport is not about getting a college scholarship. According to the NCAA, less than 3% of all high school athletes are awarded an athletic scholarship to participate at the next level, and the total value of the scholarship is only about $18,000. Playing sports in high school should focus on the experience and life lessons that are learned. If a scholarship is offered as the result, that’s great. If not, it’s still great because the child has been a part of a team and has some great memories that are priceless.

6. Make sure your children know you love watching them play. Do not critique your child’s performance during the car ride home. Participating in high school sports is about character development, learning and having fun — not winning and losing. Don’t waste important time discussing things you can do nothing about. Focus on making memories. The time your child is a high school athlete is short. Enjoy the moment.

Purchasing a ticket to a high school athletic event does not give anyone the right to be disrespectful or verbally abusive. Cheer loud and be proud but be responsible and respectful. The future of high school athletics depends upon how players, coaches and officials are treated by the fans and parents. Be the example you want your children to be.

Karissa Niehoff is the executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations and Steve Savarese is the executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA).

3 weeks ago

This weekend’s comprehensive college football TV schedule

(Pixabay)

For a printable version, click here. Pro tip: Save the image below to your phone for quick and easy access all weekend.

(Note: All times are Central)

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3 weeks ago

JSU football hype video generates controversy for crucifixion imagery

(JSU Football/Twitter)

Jacksonville State University (JSU) certainly turned some heads with the release of their football program’s hype video this week.

The video, which features “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” playing throughout, opens a little, well, differently, than most.

In conjunction with the religious music, the opening image of red paint dripping down a dangling arm immediately brings blood to the viewer’s mind.

The video then doubles down, not-so-subtly evoking imagery of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

Watch:

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The theme seems to be the rebirth — or resurrection — of the football program for its new season.

The video has certainly drawn its detractors on social media.

Some were seemingly offended for religious reasons.

Others appeared to just be weirded out.

However, one thing is for sure: JSU went viral, drawing hundreds of thousands of new sets of eyes to its football program ahead of their game at Southeastern Louisiana on Thursday night.

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

4 weeks ago

Talladega Superspeedway renovations help connect new fans with NASCAR drivers

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

Retired NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace is thrilled with the renovations happening at Talladega Superspeedway.

“I’m overwhelmed in happiness,” Wallace said Wednesday during a tour of the construction. “I’ve been coming to Talladega for a long time. I remember how it looked years ago, and man, it’s just big time. It’s just different. I really appreciate Talladega keeping up with the times and NASCAR keeping up with the times and making it really nice for the fans.”

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Rusty Wallace explains why the Talladega Superspeedway renovations are important from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Track officials invited Wallace and media to tour the renovations happening in the infield, which included Wallace inspecting a steel beam and sweeping the floor of the new 35,000-square-foot Open Air Club. Fans who purchase access will be able to stand just a few feet away from NASCAR’s top drivers during the race and surround the winner in a remodeled Victory Lane.

“Everything is just for the fans,” Wallace said. “The new garage areas for the teams? Whoever thought you could get that close — two feet from the front of your favorite driver and take photographs and look at what’s going on? It’s long overdue. I’m real excited at what NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation and Grant (Lynch) and this team here at Talladega have been able to pull off.”

The construction is part of the track’s $50 million “Transformation” as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. The centerpiece is the Talladega Garage Experience, which includes the Open Air Club. The track is also building a new Race Operations tower high above the tri-oval, as well as a new Pit Road Club for guests who want a bird’s-eye view of team pit stops.

“The fan having that closeup experience is so important,” Wallace said. “There’s so many people that are brand new to NASCAR and don’t know anything about the sport. When you can bring them to the track and show them what’s going on, I’ll think they’ll have a whole new respect for NASCAR. You’ll be able to go down there and put eyeballs on it and see it.”

Wallace admits some drivers may feel uneasy about fans being so close to them during the race, but says the access is too important to ignore.

“It’s a transition period,” Wallace said. “NASCAR has done a good job of getting the rules to make the cars more competitive with each other. NASCAR is also working really hard to help our fans get to know our new drivers. To add this new element — a beauty, I think they’ve hit it right over the head.”

To learn more about the project or purchase tickets, visit talladegasuperspeedway.com/transformation.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 weeks ago

Former NFL star Michael Vick speaks in Alabama, credits God with turning life around

(WZDX News/YouTube, YHN)

Former NFL star Michael Vick visited Alabama A&M University in Huntsville on Thursday, speaking to students about how he turned his life around after being infamously imprisoned for approximately 18 months from 2007-2009 due to his involvement in a dog-fighting ring.

According to a report by WAFF, Vick stressed the importance of second chances in life.

He also explained that for him, successfully taking advantage of his big second chance was due to Vick turning to God for answers.

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His faith, bolstered in prison, gave him clarity with what his life mission was, Vick told the students.

Vick also commented on the importance of positive role models in life.

“Second chances mean everything to me, man. People who stood at the forefront, who allowed me to be put in that space, they deserve all the credit. I was just a guy who needed them at a critical time in my life,” Vick said.

You can watch WAFF’s report here.

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

4 weeks ago

NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace: Talladega Superspeedway renovations ‘a whole different level’ — Expect to see other facilities follow its lead

(courtesy Talladega Superspeedway)

On Wednesday at the Talladega Superspeedway, former NASCAR great Rusty Wallace, the 1989 champion of the sanctioning body’s premier series, took part in a tour with members of the media that showcased the finishing touches being put in the facility’s “Transformation” renovations with its October fall race weekend fast approaching.

The $50 million “Transformation” project comes as Talladega Superspeedway celebrates its 50th anniversary. Among the improved amenities are the Talladega Garage Experience, which is made up of the Open Air Club. Also included are a new Race Operations tower high above the track’s tri-oval and the new Pit Road Club that offers race fans a close-up view of team pit stops.

On Wednesday, Wallace appeared on Huntsville radio’s WVNN to discuss the facility’s overhaul and other changes to NASCAR over the past few decades.

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“These guys have taken it to a whole different level,” Wallace said. “I got there today, and we’re talking about all brand-new garage areas and they made it so all the fans can come down in the garage and stand literally three-foot in front of the race cars, watch the race cars pull in, watch the drivers get out, watch them run their motors, watch all the behind the scenes stuff. And that’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in our sport at all.”

“It adds some aspects to the new builds – the Daytona build, Phoenix, Ariz., Richmond, Va.,” he continued. “And those are fantastic. But Talladega is probably the best I’ve seen. I mean, you literally – you’re a fan. You can stand right in front of that car. It’s neat having that much access.”

When asked how it compared to another time in NASCAR when things were much more accessible, Wallace explained this offered an organization that that era did not provide.

“What it does is it organizes a lot better,” Wallace explained. “There’s places to watch. There are ways to watch. They’re even telling the pit crews where they can put their big toolboxes that they operate out of so it won’t obstruct the view of a fan that has come down there to see these cars.’

Wallace also touted the new 35,000-square foot Talladega Social Club with its 41-foot television and 71-foot wide bar, which was adjacent to the garage area.

The 1989 champion said he expected other NASCAR facilities around the country to follow Talladega’s lead.

“I think you’re going to see all these facilities around the country trying to keep up the facilities and make them the best you can,” he said. “If you ask Rusty Wallace, ‘Hey, do you want it hard or easy to sit inside of a race track,’ I’m going to tell them I want it easy. Do I want to go inside with the air conditioner when it is 100 degrees outside, I’m going to tell you yes. That’s the reason I like these new facilities they’ve got.”

Access to drivers and internet access also compliment the new facility, according to Wallace.

The track, along with its parent company, International Speedway Corporation, announced last year it’s “Transformation,” an approximate $50 million redevelopment that is part of ISC’s long-term capital allocation plan and reinvestment into its major motorsports complexes.

Full completion of the modernized project is anticipated for October. For ticket information for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 and Sugarlands Shine 250 doubleheader NASCAR Playoffs weekend, October 11-13, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE (7223).

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 month ago

WOTM to show top Alabama High School Athletic Association events — ‘One of the best broadcast packages anywhere’

(PIxabay, YHN)

The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) on Tuesday announced that a locally owned, in-state company will broadcast the premier high school sporting events in the Yellowhammer State for the next three years.

An agreement has been reached between the AHSAA and PlayOn Sports/the NFHS Network (NFHSN — affiliated with the National Federation of State High School Associations) in which Sylacauga’s WOTM/Broadway Communications, along with its Alabama Cable Network (ACN), will bring the most anticipated high school games to viewers across the state.

This is considered a major marker for WOTM, which has long been known for its local and high school sports programming.

In a statement, WOTM president Vincent Earley emphasized that the company is proud of its partnership with the AHSAA.

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“We are an Alabama company and look forward to working hand-in-hand with the AHSAA and PlayOn Sports/NFHS Network to bring such outstanding sports events to viewers,” Earley said.

“We believe in the AHSAA mission and purpose and we believe in the young men and women in Alabama’s high schools who are working daily to make themselves better students and better athletes,” he added. “We are also looking forward to recognizing the administrators, teachers, coaches and communities that are making such a positive difference in the lives of these students. We look forward to working with the AHSAA and NFHS Network in building a relationship that will benefit our schools and citizens.”

WOTM will be producing both games in the Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl August 22-23 as part of the new agreement: Jeff Davis vs. Carver-Montgomery on Thursday night and the Central-Phenix City vs. Hoover game set for Friday night.

The company will provide live digital streaming exclusively through the subscriber-based NFHS Network and live television coverage over many of the state’s cable network carriers – including major affiliates Charter, Comcast, Cable One, ATT U-verse and Anniston/Oxford area TV affiliate WEAC TV 24. In Montgomery and other counties, the games will be shown on Charter’s channel 80 (ACN).

However, the kickoff week offerings are just the beginning.

WOTM will also produce the AHSAA Super 7 State Football Championships, the AHSAA State Basketball Finals, the AHSAA Game of the Week each Thursday during the football regular season and the AHSAA Playoff Game of the Week during the four playoff rounds leading up to the football finals.

The company will also produce for the AHSAA TV Network the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game; Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball Games; the AHSAA State Softball and Baseball Finals; and the State Cheerleading Finals. WTOM will also produce a weekly “Inside the AHSAA’’ 30-minute TV program to be shown over its network of television stations and the NFHSN beginning in September.

In a statement, AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese extolled the benefits of this new agreement.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with PlayOn Sports, the NFHS Network and WOTM,” Savarese remarked.

“This partnership is important to us and will take us into the next decade with one of the best broadcast packages anywhere,” he stressed. “WOTM and (ACN) in Alabama is included on many of the state’s cable affiliates and covers much of the state. The NFHS Network will continue to provide outstanding programming via live-streaming. This partnership will no doubt provide enormous exposure of AHSAA championship events for our member schools and help promote our message of education-based athletics.”

WOTM and (ACN) map as follows:

Those not covered by a television affiliate may watch via the subscription-based online streaming platform from anywhere in the world.

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

1 month ago

University of Alabama named top college football program of last 150 years; Auburn no. 20

(AU, UA/Facebook)

The University of Alabama has been ranked as the best college football program over the last 150 years, with Auburn University also representing the Yellowhammer State well.

A report by ESPN’s Stats & Information Group used a formula based on the number of national championships, the winning percentage for the best 50 seasons in program history and the winning percentage over the past 150 years, with the most recent 50-year block being weighted heaviest, followed by 1919-1968 and then 1869-1918 coming in as holding the least weight.

Additional adjustments were made to account for discrepancies across divisions and eras, such as national championships below the FBS level counting at 50%, national championships before the poll era (1936) counting at 50% and winning percentages when a team was not in Division I being reduced by 10%.

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Using ESPN’s formula, the University of Alabama was awarded a 74.9 rating.

ESPN outlined, “The Crimson Tide’s history is a panorama of strength and longevity: From Wallace Wade in 1925 to Nick Saban five times in the past decade, four coaches have won a national championship. Seven have won an SEC title. Twelve have at least one 10-win season. Everyone wins there — except Ears Whitworth (4-24-2, 1955-57). But Bama fans even love him. Without Ears, Bear Bryant wouldn’t have heard Mama call.”

The University of Notre Dame was ranked second with a 72.9 rating, followed by Ohio State at 69.6, the University of Oklahoma at 68.5 and the University of Southern California (USC) at 67.25.

Auburn also received a high ranking, coming in at 20th best with a 56.82 rating.

The only current SEC schools ranked above Auburn, besides the Tide, were the University of Tennessee and Louisiana State University (LSU) at numbers 14 and 15 respectively.

ESPN wrote, “What’s it like to live in the shadow of the most successful program in the history of college football? Why, it’s pretty successful, thanks for asking, and War Eagle. The Tigers won national titles in 1957 and 2010, and stopped Alabama from playing for national titles with momentous upsets in 1972, 1989 and 2013 — and a true Tiger fan would have a hard time telling you which was more enjoyable. Auburn became a more successful program in the last generation, when the Tigers began playing home games on campus instead of in Birmingham, two hours away. The Tigers waited more than a century for a true home-field advantage.”

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

1 month ago

Report: Harvey Updyke back in legal crosshairs over infamous Toomer’s Oaks poisoning

(CBS 42/Twitter)

Harvey Updyke, who in 2011 poisoned the historic Toomer’s Oaks at Auburn University, has been ordered back to court for his crime, according to WRBL.

Updyke wrote his own infamous chapter in Auburn’s football rivalry with the University of Alabama, with the Tide fanatic in 2013 pleading guilty to poisoning — and eventually killing — the since-replaced Oaks with a powerful herbicide.

At that time, he was given a three-year split sentence, with five years probation. Updyke was also ordered to pay almost $800,000 in restitution to Auburn, split into monthly installments.

However, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes has now advised that Updyke is consistently failing to make his monthly restitution payments.

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The district attorney told WRBL that Updyke has paid less than $5,000 total, frequently missing monthly payments along the way and even more so now that his probation period has ended. Reportedly, the missed payments have reached an egregious level.

“Harvey Updyke has never left my radar,” Hughes told the Columbus, GA-based news station. “We have been keeping an eye on his payments or more specifically, his non-payment, and he has made exactly two payments for a total of $200 in the past year.”

This did not suddenly just become an issue, either.

Hughes said that his office has been attempting to locate the man for nearly 12 months. On Tuesday, they were successful, as Updyke was served with an order to show cause when investigators tracked him down in Louisiana.

“Because of that (non-payment), we have been looking for him for close to a year, and we finally found him,” Hughes advised.

Now, Updyke has a new court date.

“He was served with a show cause order on Tuesday basically telling him he needs to be in Lee County court on October 30th of this year to tell the court why aren’t you paying,” Hughes explained to WRBL.

If Updyke fails to appear, Hughes said he will issue a warrant for his arrest.

“As long as I am in this office and [Updyke] is still breathing, I am going to be a bur in his side under his saddle and make sure he pays what he owes,” Hughes emphasized.

The district attorney believes that based on Updyke’s behavior (and potentially past comments), he has no remorse for intentionally killing the Oaks.

In fact, Hughes said that Updyke seems to celebrate what he did.

“He embraces his role as the villain when he goes to Alabama sporting events, which we know he has been back to an Alabama football game in Tuscaloosa in November,” the district attorney stressed. “If you have enough money to go see your team play, you have enough money to pay Auburn University.”

If Updyke does show up to his October hearing date, the court will decide how to proceed regarding restitution.

This is not the first time Updyke has run into issues with the court following his guilty plea.

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