The Wire

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

14 hours ago

Alabama Senate majority leader to SEC: Let them play

(Greg Reed/Facebook, @SEC/Twitter, YHN)

Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) sent a letter on Tuesday to Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, advocating for the SEC to allow its member institutions to proceed with the 2020 college football season this fall.

The letter came the day that the Big 10 and Pac-12 decided to cancel their fall seasons. Of the Power 5 conferences, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 have yet to announce if they will play football this year.

To try saving the season, a player-led #WeWantToPlay movement has popped up in the past few days, quickly gaining momentum nationally.


University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and other prominent leaders in the world of college football have advised that most players want to play, and that players will very likely be safer following enhanced safety protocols developed by their teams rather than being back at home or left to their own devices on campuses all fall.

For example, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) head coach Bill Clark on Monday tweeted that his team had tested all 176 people in the school’s football building for COVID-19, with all tests returning negative.

“In addition to the [SEC]’s Medical Advisory Group providing a medical clearance for gameplay this fall, I have faith in the various health and safety guidelines being adopted by the Conference’s member institutions, who have themselves relied on the vast expertise of the medical professionals on their campuses and within their respective university systems,” Reed wrote to Sankey.

He added that on top of “the heightened health and safety protocols in intercollegiate athletics, each member institution has created health and safety guidelines campus-wide.”

“I have a tremendous amount of trust in the decision making of institutions such as the University of Alabama and Auburn University and wholeheartedly believe that every decision made by their respective administrations will prioritize the health and welfare of their students, faculty, and staff over all other considerations,” Reed continued.

“Member institutions and student-athletes have worked tirelessly to get back on the field this fall,” the senator said. “Depriving opportunities for student-athletes to succeed on the field will long lasting and potentially devastating consequences for their futures, with many student-athletes aspiring to compete professionally.”

Reed concluded by asking the SEC to “hear the calling of their member institutions and student-athletes and commit to competition this fall.”

You can read the full letter here.

Shortly after Reed sent his letter, the SEC via Twitter released a statement from Sankey.

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

21 hours ago

Bama, Auburn quarterbacks speak out for #WeWantToPlay movement

(Cat Wofford/Auburn Athletics, Alabama Athletics/Contributed, YHN)

University of Alabama junior Mac Jones and Auburn University sophomore Bo Nix, both quarterbacks, have come out in support of the player-led #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

Prominent elected officials from across the country, including President Donald Trump, and major leaders in the college football world, including University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, on Monday voiced their support for the movement, which was founded in part by Crimson Tide star running back Najee Harris.

In a pair of tweets, Jones outlined his thoughts.


“When we committed to play for the University of Alabama and the SEC, we trusted the process and we still do,” he said. “We believe the safest place for us is to be together playing football as a team at the University of Alabama. Trust us and let us play.”

“I trust the process; Coach Saban; and the University of Alabama; I believe playing the proposed modified season is the correct decision. Our program has implemented numerous safety protocols in concurrence with our medical staff, CDC guidelines and the NCAA, including, but not limited to, testing to help ensure the safety and well being of our coaches, staff, teammates and university. In making this decision, I do not mean to diminish the pain that this pandemic has caused everyone. Nevertheless, I am committed to playing football this season — as are the majority of my teammates. Praying for a better tomorrow,” Jones concluded.

Auburn’s starting quarterback also commented on the matter in a tweet.

“Thanks to the support of the ENTIRE Auburn administration, we are safer playing a football season,” Nix remarked. “We have worked our entire lives to get to where we are now. Don’t let it go to waste. We need football. Listen to the players. #WeWantToPlay.”

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

2 days ago

Tuberville supports #WeWantToPlay movement — ‘Let them play’

(Tuberville for Senate/Contributed)

Count former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville as a supporter of the player-led #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

Prominent elected officials from across the country, including President Donald Trump, and major leaders in the college football world, including University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, on Monday voiced their support for the movement.

In a video message posted to social media, Tuberville added his voice to the mix.


The current Alabama Republican senatorial nominee said, “You know, college football is the lifeblood of the South, and allowing teams to play this season will bring a much-needed sense of calm to these strange times.”

Tuberville then echoed a key sentiment that Saban outlined earlier in the day.

“With proper medical supervision, college players are likely safer on the field than they are if they’re sent home. And most programs are implementing stricter guidelines than the CDC recommends,” Tuberville added. “If a player wants to opt out, that’s fine. But don’t take this opportunity away from thousands of young men who have worked their entire lives for this moment.”

“I support the players who want to take the field this season, and I hope you will join me. Let them play,” he concluded.


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

2 days ago

Saban: ‘Players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home’

(Alabama Football/Twitter)

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban on Monday afternoon weighed in on the player-led #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

In an interview with ESPN, Saban commented on the movement that is in part led by Crimson Tide star running back Najee Harris.

The movement, less than a day old, has quickly gained steam, garnering public reactions already by President Donald Trump, other prominent elected officials across the nation and many in and around college football.


Speaking to ESPN, Saban pushed back on the notion that student-athletes will inherently be safer if the season is not played.

“I want to play, but I want to play for the players’ sake, the value they can create for themselves,” Saban said.

“I know I’ll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don’t care about player safety,” he outlined. “Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of the July. It’s a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can’t get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they’re in a bar or just hanging out.”

The legendary coach noted that the SEC has already pushed back the start of its season to September 26 to allow the fall semester to resume before final decisions are made on football.

“It’s going to be a challenge when the other students get on campus, and I get that,” Saban remarked. “But we really don’t know what that entails until it happens. It’s a big reason we pushed the season back, to assess that, which is the prudent way to do it.”

Bama senior All-American offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood also spoke with ESPN, strongly stating his position. He underscored that players need to have a voice as conferences and schools make decisions.

“There’s a lot of noise and bad stuff out there about playing football with the virus going on, but I haven’t really seen anything about what the players want,” Leatherwood told ESPN. “We’ve been grinding all summer, and you don’t want it to be all for nothing.

“The story that needs to be written is that we want to play,” he added. “We take risks every single day, especially in this sport, and life shouldn’t stop. If there is a chance for long-term effects if you get it and people don’t feel comfortable, then don’t play. Everybody is entitled to their right. But we want to play, and we’re going to play.”

Harris, speaking to ESPN, praised Saban’s leadership.

“Coach Saban listens to his players and wants to hear from us first,” the running back advised. “He told us that none of this is about him, but it’s about us. He wants to hear our concerns, and we made it clear that we want to play and feel like Alabama is doing everything they can to make sure we can play safely.”

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth backed Saban on the matter in a tweet.

“I’m with Coach Saban on this one. The player are much safer on campus and at practice than back home. For the players sake, let them play,” he commented.

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

2 days ago

Trump, Cavanaugh support players’ #WeWantToPlay movement to save college football season

(Twinkle Cavanaugh Campaign/Contributed, White House/Flickr, Pixabay, YHN)

President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted his support for the #WeWantToPlay movement, of which University of Alabama star running back Najee Harris is a prominent leader.

The movement, brought to light after a Sunday evening conference call among players involved, is attempting to save the 2020 college football season.

The Big 10 and Pac-12 on Monday seemed poised to formally cancel their fall seasons, but the other Power 5 conferences have not made decisions. Reports suggest the SEC and ACC are most likely to play football this year, although Oklahoma and Texas are pushing other Big 12 teams to join them in supporting playing.

After Yellowhammer News reported on the fluid situation and Harris’ leadership on Monday, President Donald Trump came out in support of the movement.


The president tweeted, “The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled. #WeWantToPlay.”

Trump was joined by one of his Alabama Trump Victory campaign co-chairs, Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, in supporting this player-led effort.

“The college football season needs to happen,” Cavanaugh told Yellowhammer News on Monday afternoon. “Our players and coaches have put in so much hard work to get to this point. Communities and small businesses across Alabama and the rest of the country depend on these games being played. We need to continue taking precautions, but we also need to get on with our lives. Now is not the time to back down.”

While not a member of a Power 5 conference, Troy Trojans head coach Chip Lindsey on Monday also came out in support of the #WeWantToPlay cause.

“I met with the leaders of our team today & the response was unanimous, #WeWantToPlay,” the former Auburn assistant coach tweeted. “The work they have put in on the field & to follow all of the safety protocols must be commended. They deserve the chance to see their work payoff with a season; I stand with & support them.”

The Sun Belt Conference, of which Troy is a member, is currently planning on a schedule that features eight conference games, also allowing up to four non-conference contests.

The SEC has adopted a conference-only, 10-game schedule for this season. Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey on Monday tweeted, “We know concerns remain. We have never had a [football] season in a COVID-19 environment. Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying. We support, educate and care for student-athletes every day, and will continue to do so…every day.”

UPDATE 2:20 p.m.

University of Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne has weighed in.

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

2 days ago

Crimson Tide star helps spearhead effort to save college football season

(Alabama Athletics/Contributed, YHN)

University of Alabama running back Najee Harris is a leader in the #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

On Monday, the Big 10 canceled its fall football season, according to reports, and the Pac-12 is expected to follow their lead.

That leaves the SEC, ACC and Big 12 as the remaining Power 5 conferences yet to make a decision on playing their fall schedules.

While some of the national (and in-state) sports media world continues to cheer the death of the season, key players from Power 5 schools on Sunday jumped on a conference call to try and rescue the situation.


ESPN reported that the Crimson Tide’s Harris was one of the players on the call, along with the likes of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

During that call, the players came up with a list of key takeaways to share with the college football universe. That list has been turned into a graphic and shared widely on social media by players since the call.

Former Bama quarterback Greg McElroy reacted to the players’ efforts in a tweet on Monday.

“All weekend, it felt like the 2020 College Football Season was doomed,” he said. “But, the #WeWanttoPlay movement has given it new life. Ultimately, I don’t know if it will make a difference, but it feels like the players are the only people that can make a season happen.”

Kristen Saban Setas, daughter of head coach Nick Saban, also advocated for the season to occur in a tweet of her own.

If the SEC ultimately forges ahead with a season (with or without the ACC and Big 12), there could also be the question of further conference alignment changes — at least for this fall.

One Ohio State player has suggested the Buckeyes bail on the Big 10 and play in the SEC this year, and Notre Dame has already signed up with the ACC in an effort to preserve their season.

Even more movement is expected this week in the college football world, with the SEC, ACC and Big 12 each set to hold regularly scheduled meetings of their directors of athletics.

Reports on Monday morning said that Texas and Oklahoma are the Big 12 schools trying to save their fall season, however the SEC could be looking to scoop up those schools if the Big 12 as a whole decides not to play this year.

Right now, the SEC has adopted a conference-only, 10-game schedule for this season.

Alabama is scheduled to play homes games versus Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Texas A&M, along with contests at Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Missouri and Tennessee.

Auburn has home games against Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M, as well as games at Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

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

4 days ago

Alabama, Auburn each add two SEC East teams to 2020 schedule

(SEC/Facebook, YHN)

As part of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the 2020 college football season, both the University of Alabama and Auburn University are now set to face two more teams from the SEC East in the regular season than they normally would.

The Southeastern Conference recently adopted a 10-game, conference-only schedule for this season, with two more interdivisional games than typical for each member school.

The specific additions to each team’s schedule were announced on Friday.


The Crimson Tide gained a road game at Missouri and a home contest against Kentucky.

Auburn added a matchup with Tennessee in Jordan-Hare Stadium and a game at South Carolina.

Under normal circumstances, SEC schools play the other six teams in their division, two opponents from the other division and four out-of-conference games each season. With the out-of-conference games all being scrapped this year for SEC schools, this means the new regular season schedule is still two games shorter than usual.

As originally scheduled, Gus Malzahn’s Tigers have home games against Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M, as well as games at Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

Likewise, the Tide’s schedule still contains originally scheduled homes games versus Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State and Texas A&M, along with contests at Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee.

Dates and times of the teams’ respective 10-game schedules will be announced by the SEC at a later date.

The conference on Friday also announced its initial medical protocols for fall sports, including football. These protocols could be updated before the start of the season, which is now scheduled for September 26.

RELATED: Alabama ranked No. 3, Auburn No. 11 in preseason coaches poll

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

5 days ago

South Alabama football announces 25% capacity restriction for stadium, required masks and social distancing for fans


The University of South Alabama football program announced on Friday how it will handle fans in attendance for games at the beginning of the upcoming football season amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The school is limiting Hancock Whitney Stadium to 25% of its normal capacity. All attendees will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing, and temperature checks will be given before anyone can enter the Hargrove Club and suites.

Tailgating has been banned for the month of September, a policy the university says it will reassess as the season goes on.

South Alabama is the first college in the state to announce how it will handle fans at football games for the 2020 season.


Fans in the stadium will be required to stay in their assigned seats, and may not congregate in public areas.

All seating will be socially distanced, but for groups of friends and family, a cluster of no more than five can sit together.

An example of tickets available under social distancing protocols. (Univ. South Alabama/Contributed)

Suites will be limited to 10 people with no visitors, and the Hargrove Club will also be capped at 25% capacity with social distancing enforced between club seats.

The school has given season ticket holders until August 13 to notify the relevant department of their plans to go ahead with attending games this season. More details can be accessed here.

The Jaguars’ first ever game at Hancock Whitney Stadium is scheduled for September 12 against the Tulane Green Wave.

University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John was recently asked by President Donald Trump about the Crimson Tide’s outlook for playing the football season.

St. John said the team was on track to play but acknowledged “great difficulties and complexities” with organizing the season amid the pandemic.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 days ago

Nick Saban named to board of National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches created by former Tide assistant

(University of Alabama Athletics/Contributed, @NFL/Twitter, YHN)

Former University of Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley on Thursday announced the creation of the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches.

Locksley served as an offensive assistant for the Crimson Tide in 2016, followed by a year as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach the next season before becoming the full-time offensive coordinator in 2018. He is now the head coach at the University of Maryland.

Speaking to, Locksley cited a lack of black head coaches in the National Football League as well as among the college Football Bowl Subdivision.

“I wanted to create an organization that would be able to help prepare, promote and produce the next group of coaches coming up through the ranks at every level,” he told the outlet.


Locksley is not the only Bama connection to the new nonprofit group, which will reportedly “seek to not only identify and groom coaches of color (male and female) for upward mobility, but also create a candidates list that will be vetted by a board of directors that includes some of the most respected and powerful names in sport.”

Included on that venerable board of directors is Tide head coach Nick Saban, as well as Ozzie Newsome.

Newsome was named to the College Football Hall of Fame after a four-year playing career at the University of Alabama. He also enjoyed a successful playing career in the NFL and is a two-time Super Bowl winning executive with the Baltimore Ravens.

Speaking about the board of directors featuring the likes of Saban and Newsome, Locksley explained, “These are all people that have either hired head coaches or coordinators or filled upper-level positions throughout their careers. They all have been at the top of the mountain, per se, in their respective areas, whether winning Super Bowls or national championships or being pioneers…”

“We want to use their experiences to help us formulate and produce the list of qualified candidates, so when people say there aren’t enough minorities to fill the positions that have come open over the years, we’re going to produce a list of qualified people that shows there are qualified people. What’s needed is opportunities,” he added.

RELATED: Alabama ranked No. 3, Auburn No. 11 in preseason coaches poll

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

6 days ago

Alabama ranked No. 3, Auburn No. 11 in preseason coaches poll


USA Today on Thursday released its annual preseason Amway Coaches Poll of the top 25 teams heading into the 2020 college football season.

Former University of Alabama player and assistant coach Dabo Swinney’s Clemson was ranked first in the poll, with Ohio State coming next.

The Crimson Tide was ranked No. 3, trailed by fellow SEC teams Georgia and LSU to round-out the top five.

Gus Malzahn’s Auburn team was ranked 11th.


This marks the Tide’s 11th consecutive year entering the season ranked as one of the top-three teams in the nation.

The poll utilizes a points system. Receiving 1,495 points, Bama was closer to No. 1 Clemson than fourth-place Georgia.

USA Today wrote, “The Crimson Tide and Nick Saban start the season with a playoff cloud looming over them. The Tide did not make final four for the first time since the championship system started in 2014. With several players lost to the NFL draft including QB Tua Tagovailoa, a lot of production will need to be replaced. But senior WR DeVonta Smith will be returning as well as OT Alex Leatherwood and LB Dylan Moses. The quarterback question looms with junior Mac Jones, who made four starts last year, and true freshman Bryce Young the top contenders for the starting spot.”

The Auburn Tigers received 898 points, coming in just ahead of No. 12 Wisconsin.

“The Tigers offense should be more consistent behind sophomore quarterback Bo Nix, who was key in wins against Oregon and Alabama but struggled in other games,” USA Today explained. “WR Seth Williams provides a big-play target. There is some rebuilding to be done. The Tigers return just seven starters overall and the heaviest losses are on defense. DL Big Kat Bryant and LB K.J. Britt are elite players at their position, but the overhaul on that side of the ball might take some time to find a rhythm in a grueling SEC division. That puts more pressure on Nix to carry the load early.”

The Southeastern Conference recently approved a 10-game, conference-only schedule for the 2020 football season, with the first game set to occur on September 26.

The SEC also approved a revised preseason practice schedule as a result.

Schools are now permitted to conduct up to 14 hours per week of strength and conditioning, meetings and walkthroughs from August 7-16. From August 17 until the opening game, schools are allowed 25 practices with a limit of 20 hours per week of practice time. A five-day acclimatization period is required, with two days in helmets only, two days in shells and the fifth day in full pads. Additionally, schools must provide student-athletes a minimum of two days off per week until the week before their first game of the season.

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

1 week ago

Auburn basketball star Isaac Okoro headed to NBA — ‘I thank God for all the blessings’

(Auburn Basketball/Twitter)

Isaac Okoro is one-and-done at Auburn University, with the small forward on Monday confirming he will enter the 2020 NBA Draft.

Okoro made the All-SEC second team, defensive team and freshman team this past season.

In a letter to “the Auburn Family,” Okoro wrote, “Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine. Thanks to hard work and the support of Auburn basketball, including you the fans, I’m now in a position to achieve that dream. I have decided to keep my name in the draft and focus on the next chapter of my life.”

“The decision didn’t come easy,” he continued. “I love Auburn.”


He subsequently praised Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl and the upwards trajectory of the men’s basketball program under Pearl’s leadership.

“It was the second school to offer me, and Coach Pearl and his staff never let up on recruiting me,” Okoro advised. “I could have gone anywhere, but I wanted a school who wanted me for me, a school where I could go in and play my game and where they would have faith in me. I found that and so much more at Auburn.”

“During my recruitment, [Bruce Pearl] was honest with me and overdelivered with his promises. I trusted him and the staff to help take my game to new heights, and they did just that. Simply put, Auburn put me in the best position to succeed both on and off the court and gave me the confidence I needed to take my game to the next level,” he explained.

While heaping more praise on Pearl, the coaching staff and his teammates, Okoro also gave glory to God for the opportunity.

“Somebody recently told me that I could be the first one-and-done player in program history,” he said. “Wow. What a blessing. It just shows all the hard work I have put in day in and day out from a very young age. I thank God for all the blessings [H]e has given me.”

“There is no better place to play than at Auburn Arena in front of the loudest, most passionate fans in college basketball,” the player said. “So to the Auburn Family, thank you. You took me in and showed me love from the first day I stepped on campus. Just know that in return I gave all my effort every time I stepped on the court.”

Okoro concluded, “As I move on, I feel like this is only the beginning for Auburn basketball. People from across the country are starting to recognize what this program is doing down here. Auburn is an everything school, and I’m honored to help bring credibility to the basketball program. There is not a doubt in my mind Auburn is set up for long-term success, and with BP in charge, it’s only a matter of time before there will be a national championship banner hanging from the rafters.”

You can read Okoro’s full letter here.

Auburn also released a video of Okoro narrating the entire letter, along with highlights from his sole season on the Plains.


RELATED: Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

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

1 week ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

(Alabama Athletics/Contributed)

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.


Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

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

2 weeks ago

Report: SEC adopts conference only, 10-game college football schedule for 2020

(SEC/Facebook, YHN)

The Southeastern Conference is forging ahead with a conference-only college football schedule for the 2020 season, as first reported by Sports Illustrated.

The outlet reported that SEC presidents on Thursday adopted a proposal to play a 10-game schedule this fall, featuring only teams from inside the conference. The SEC has now confirmed the news.

The plan adopted Thursday would see the season start on September 26, three weeks later than previously scheduled.

The SEC Championship would still occur as originally scheduled on December 19.


SEC football seasons normally include eight conference games. The new plan, which comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, would feature two more interdivisional games. This means that SEC West teams such as the University of Alabama and Auburn University would each play two more SEC East teams than normal.

The schedule includes one mid-season open date for each school and an open date on December 12 for all schools ahead of the conference championship game.

“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

While the SEC now has a new schedule, this still does not mean that the 2020 college football season will definitely be played. Coronavirus hurdles remain and will continue to be discussed in the coming weeks.

“After careful consideration of the public health indicators in our region and following advice of our medical advisors, we have determined that this is the best course of action to prepare for a safe and healthy return to competition for SEC student-athletes, coaches and others associated with our sports programs,” added Sankey on Thursday.

The SEC in a press release stressed the flexibility of its adopted schedule and that the advice of medical experts was leaned on heavily in the plan’s formulation and adoption.

“We believe these schedule adjustments offer the best opportunity to complete a full season by giving us the ability to adapt to the fluid nature of the virus and the flexibility to adjust schedules as necessary if disruptions occur,” Sankey stated. “It is regrettable that some of our traditional non-conference rivalries cannot take place in 2020 under this plan, but these are unique, and hopefully temporary, circumstances that call for unconventional measures.”

UPDATE 4:10 p.m.:

Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne and Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban released respective statements.

“We’ve continued to stay optimistic about having a fall season, and today’s decision to move to a 10-game, conference-only schedule provides us with an opportunity to still compete and move our program forward in the safest way possible,” Byrne remarked. “The health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans has always been at the forefront of our decision making, and we are thankful to now have plans in place that allow us to move forward. We appreciate the hard work of Commissioner Sankey and the SEC staff as well as everyone involved across our 14 campuses to make these collective decisions together.”

Saban commented, “We are pleased to have a plan in place for the Southeastern Conference this season. We believe it is the best option to keep players and staff safe and still maintain the integrity of the season. The safety of our team will be our highest priority throughout the season, but we are also excited that our players will have the opportunity to compete and play this season. I want to thank the leadership from our administration, our medical staff, the SEC and all of the medical experts that are guiding us through this process.”

UPDATE 5:30 p.m.:

Auburn Director of Athletics Allen Greene said in a statement, “The health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and fans remains our top priority. In that spirit, we deeply appreciate Commissioner Sankey’s leadership and the tireless efforts of the Conference staff during ongoing discussions related to fall competition.”

“The Presidents and Chancellors’ decision to implement a 10-game, conference-only schedule for the 2020 football season is prudent and the Tigers are fully supportive,” he continued. “While the format of the football schedule is confirmed, there are many other items related to football and other fall sports that warrant robust discussion, and the leaders in the Southeastern Conference are committed to working through these discussions in a thoughtful manner.”

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

2 weeks ago

Incoming Auburn golfer wins Alabama Boys State Junior Championship

(Auburn Athletics/Contributed, YHN)

Incoming Auburn University freshman Max Johnson on Thursday won the 75th Alabama Boys State Junior Championship at Goose Pond Colony Resort in Scottsboro.

Johnson fired a 14-under par and won the annual amateur event by four strokes.


He was the only golfer in the field of 123 to finish each round in the 60s.

The rising college freshman rattled off 15 birdies, including nine on the front nine, and one eagle across three circuits of the par-72 Lake Course.

Johnson is a native of Fairhope in Baldwin County.

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

3 weeks ago

Alabama fall high school sports allowed to start on schedule

(Pixabay, YHN)

The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control on Wednesday approved the AHSAA’s Return to Play “Best Practices” recommended guidelines and reaffirmed plans to start fall sports on time.

The action occurred at the association’s annual summer meeting in Montgomery.

Under the approved plans, fall sports teams now have the option to begin fall workouts on July 27.

For football, the first week can only be used for acclimation purposes with helmets and shorts. Volleyball, cross country and swimming and diving can use the first week for acclimation and tryouts. Schools not choosing that option may start fall practice on August 3.

The first athletic contest can occur August 20 at the earliest.


AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese praised the association’s Central Board for its commitment to providing member schools the tools to return to play as safely as possible.

“The purpose of the Return to Play document is to offer AHSAA member schools best practices in order to commence the 2020-21 school year athletic seasons as scheduled and as safely as possible,” stated Savarese.

The AHSAA will hold a virtual press conference on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. CT to discuss details of the Return to Play “Best Practices” document. You can watch on television via WOTM or online here.

Read more about Wednesday’s meeting here.

RELATED: AHSAA’s Savarese to lead National Federation of State High School Associations

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

4 weeks ago

World Games to feature flag football for first time ever at Birmingham 2022 event

(The World Games 2022 Birmingham/Facebook, YHN)

The World Games 2022 Birmingham on Wednesday announced that flag football will join its existing lineup of 32 unique, multi-disciplinary sports.

This international multisport event features sports and disciplines not included in the Olympics. The event is typically held one year after the Olympics.

Since the 2020 Olympics were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Games in Birmingham originally scheduled for 2021 were also pushed back a year.

Wednesday’s announcement was made in partnership with the International World Games Association (IWGA), National Football League (NFL) and International Federation of American Football (IFAF).


RELATED: World Games 2022 Birmingham names Charles Barkley as honorary co-chair — ‘Chance to show the world what this community and its people are all about’

The 2022 event in Birmingham will be the first edition of the World Games on American soil since 1981.

Hosted at historic Legion Field, flag football at the World Games 2022 Birmingham will be presented by the NFL and feature eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams from around the world.

“We are grateful that the NFL recognizes the significance that The World Games 2022 will have as the first major international sporting event in the United States coming out of this global pandemic,” stated Nick Sellers, CEO of the World Games 2022.

As the current reigning world champions, the United States men’s and women’s teams both pre-qualify. The remaining teams will be selected through the IFAF qualifying process.

“The world is longing to reconnect, and Birmingham, Alabama will play a pivotal role in that reconnection,” Sellers added. “The NFL’s partnership sends a signal to every company in the world that associating their brand with this special event is important for the world to see.”

The World Games 2022 Birmingham will take place July 7-17, 2022, and will generate an estimated $256 million in economic impact.

“Football is a staple of Southern sports and will be a welcome addition to The 2022 World Games lineup,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Non-contact sports like flag football are a great way to open up competition to all skill levels. That type of accessibility and inclusion is what The World Games is all about, providing incredible experiences and lasting memories for participants and spectators to enjoy. Birmingham can’t wait for the world to join us in 2022.”

NFL FLAG is an NFL licensed property of more than 1,600 locally-operated leagues and over 500,000 youth athletes across all 50 states. NFL FLAG has regular participation from more than 3 million youth and adults in the United States.

“The addition of flag football to the World Games brings tremendous global value as the NFL looks to expand the NFL FLAG brand worldwide,” commented Izell Reese, executive director of NFL FLAG. “With support from NFL Global Ambassador and NFL FLAG Chairman Russell Wilson, we’ve committed to creating more opportunities for athletes around the world to play flag, and we look forward to teaming up with the City of Birmingham and the World Games Committee to share the NFL FLAG experience with even more athletes and fans.”

“We are so excited to bring flag football to the international stage during The World Games 2022 in Birmingham,” added Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Super Bowl champion and NFL FLAG chairman Russell Wilson. “Flag football expands the sport of football by providing easier access to our game for men and women from all walks of life. With a huge international platform like this, we’ll create opportunities for kids and adults around the world to experience and learn the game of football, while helping grow the sport’s global popularity.”

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

4 weeks ago

AHSAA’s Savarese to lead National Federation of State High School Associations

(AHSAA/Contributed, YHN)

Steve Savarese, executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA), will lead the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) starting next year.

A Monday release announced that Savarese was elected by the NFHS board of directors to the position of president-elect for the term spanning July 2, 2020 — July 2021. Savarese’s one-year term as president will begin in July, 2021.

Savarese became executive director of the AHSAA in July 2007, after serving as a teacher, coach, athletic director and administrator in the states of Kansas and Alabama for more than 40 years. He is the fourth full-time executive director in AHSAA history.


Now in in his 14th year in that role, Savarese has emphasized health, safety and sportsmanship throughout his tenure. He developed – through the AHSAA Central Board – a revenue-sharing program that has returned more than $17 million to member schools since its implementation in 2010.

After moving to Alabama, Savarese subsequently served as head coach and athletic director of Birmingham Ensley (three years), Alexander City Benjamin Russell (12 years), Daphne (seven years) and McGill-Toolen (three years). He was even selected as an NFL High School Coach of the Year finalist in 1996-97.

In addition to his service on the NFHS board of directors, Savarese has served on numerous NFHS committees and is currently the chair of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been inducted into numerous halls of fame, including the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

RELATED: Alabama High School Athletic Association members to see ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ streaming opportunities this year

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

4 weeks ago

Six players from Alabama universities on watch list for college football’s top defensive award

(Alabama Athletics/Contributed, Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics, Troy Athletics, UAB Athletics/Contributed, YHN)

Six players who star at Yellowhammer State universities have been named to the 2020 Bednarik Award Preseason Watch List.

The announcement was made Monday by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia, which has presented the Chuck Bednarik Award annually since 1995 to the top defensive player in college football.

The award is named in honor of former college and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Chuck Bednarik. The 2020 winner will be announced at the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on December 10, assuming there actually is a college football season in 2020.

Players at in-state schools named to the watch list were University of Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses and defensive back Patrick Surtain II; Auburn University linebacker K.J. Britt; Troy University linebacker Carlton Martial; and University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) linebacker Kris Moll and defensive end Jordan Smith.


Bama has earned the award twice previously: Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2017 and Jonathan Allen in 2016. No other university in the state of Alabama has received the honor.

This comes after it was announced on Friday that Alabama’s scheduled 2020 opener against USC has been canceled due to the Pac-12 deciding not to play any non-conference games.

“As I’ve said before, USC AD Mike Bohn and I had multiple conversations over the last several months, and we were both planning on playing the football game on September 5 in Arlington. With the Pac-12’s decision to move to a conference-only schedule, we will do our best to adjust. What that looks like is to be determined,” UA Director of Athletics Greg Byrne stated.

The Big Ten has also canceled all non-conference games, and more conferences could follow.

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

1 month ago

Alabama native Rachel Baribeau is Changing the Narrative and expanding her own

Rachel Baribeau has pivoted from her successful sports broadcasting career to helping others with her Changing the Narrative movement. (contributed)

Sportscasting is a tough business for anyone, but has been traditionally even more difficult for women. That’s why the change in direction for Rachel Baribeau won’t make sense … until you hear her explain it.

“I am always evolving – as a woman, as a queen, as a daughter and a friend and as a fiancee and a future wife – I am always trying to be better. I’m a lifelong learner.”


Rachel Baribeau is Changing the Narrative in college sports and beyond from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The Auburn graduate and former Pell City resident had a career many would consider perfect: covering SEC football and other sports, from the sidelines and from her college football talk show on Sirius/XM (where she was the network’s first female college sports host).

Baribeau was well-respected enough among her peers to be granted a Heisman Trophy ballot. But it was her work away from the microphone that made the most noise.

“The idea that there is royalty inside of all of us; that there is legacy and purpose and greatness.” Baribeau beams as she describes the impact of the conversations she had been having with college athletes.

Changing the Narrative” was Baribeau’s passion project – a movement that promotes positive mental health and inspiring people to build a positive legacy for others. She took her “Purpose – Passion – Platform” message on a nationwide tour of college football programs, filled with candid heart-to-heart conversations.

After spending four years on this consulting journey, Baribeau announced last October that she would be walking away from sports to concentrate on Changing the Narrative full time.

“I started with this desire and belief that athletes could trend for something other than bad news,” Baribeau said.

Now a nonprofit, Changing the Narrative has expanded further. Baribeau is now in demand in locker rooms, board rooms, law enforcement agencies and entire athletic conferences. “We already have the Big Ten on board; how great would it be to be in all of the Power Five conferences?”

Baribeau is scaling the program in several ways. First, the pandemic has forced a shift to more online training and modules. Second, the material is being tweaked to skew younger for high school audiences. Finally, Baribeau is training a network of other speakers including former athletes who can bring their own experiences of Changing the Narrative to even more audiences.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

1 month ago

How to save the 2020 college football season

(Alabama Athletics/Contributed, Dale Jackson/Contributed, Pixabay, YHN)

The sports media and the political media world are gathering to undo college football.

Why? I can’t even begin to understand it.

But with the Ivy League ending their fall sports and the Big 10 ending non-conference games, with other conferences to follow, it is becoming increasingly clear that the game we all love will be killed by the end of the month, if not sooner.

The ending of non-conference games makes absolutely no sense.


Look at the University of Florida and their schedule: They have a game with the University of Kentucky at home and an away game at Florida State. Which game do you think will get played (if there is a season)?

Kentucky, because it is in the same conference.

But Lexington and Gainesville are 708 miles away, while Gainesville and Tallahassee are around 150 miles away from each other.

So logistically, having Kentucky come to Florida is a bigger “hassle” but that game might get played.

If you can rationalize this using science, medicine, politics, logic, common sense or wild guesses, let me know.

This ridiculous decision all but dooms a season because it is indefensible and silly.

So, how do we fix this?

Throw out the conferences for a season and replace them with 50 state divisions and reset the schedule completely.

If the distance is an issue, and that’s the best reason I can come up with to end non-conference games, this eliminates that.

This will force every state to play all games in their home state, with no exceptions. These are trying times after all.

Here is a potential Alabama schedule:

9/5 – Alabama A&M  at Alabama
9/12 – Faulkner at Alabama
9/19 – Alabama at Samford
9/26 – Alabama at Troy
10/3 – UAB Blazers at Alabama
10/10 – Birmingham-Southern Panthers at Alabama
10/17  – Alabama at West Alabama
10/24 – Alabama at Alabama State
11/7 – Jacksonville State at Alabama
11/14 – North Alabama at Alabama
11/21 – Alabama at South Alabama
11/28 – Auburn at Alabama

This will be good for these schools to play the powerhouse. Maybe fans eventually get to see these games in person; the schools could even get some of that sweet TV revenue.

The rankings can be done, the same with the coaches’ and media polls.

When this schedule is done, have your conference championships and College Football Playoff as normal.

Is this the perfect system? No.

This is going to require innovation and new ideas. If you want an actual college football season, this is the best bet.

Any conference that thinks it is going to continue on, as usual, is crazy. The sports media is set for self-destruction with their thirst to insert politics into America’s avenues for escape. Killing the college football season is their goal.

They will chip away at them until they relent.

Economies will be further destroyed, jobs will be lost (in their industry as well), and lives will be changed forever.

When college football is officially canceled, we will all know things have changed for good.

It will happen.

1 month ago

Alabama High School Athletic Association members to see ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ streaming opportunities this year

(NFHS Network/Contributed, Pixabay, YHN)

The COVID-19 pandemic may very well limit attendance at live sporting events this coming academic year, however Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) member schools will now all be able to livestream their games and, at least partially, recoup lost ticket and other game day-related revenue.

AHSAA this week announced a new program that will enable its members that currently lack production capabilities to receive up to two free Pixellot automated production units for use in their primary sports venues.

The program is being offered by the NFHS Network, the national leader in streaming live and on-demand high school sports, and was created to assist schools facing revenue losses due to the virus.


The network has reportedly allocated more than $200 million in capital for the new nationwide project, which is only open to eligible schools whose state high school association is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

The AHSAA was the first state association to join the network in 2013. Since that time, AHSAA member schools have received collectively more than $247,000 in revenue sharing from the NFHS Network, which ranks fourth nationally.

The Pixellot units are all-in-one video cameras and automated production solutions. Introduced to high schools three years ago, the units have quickly become an integral component of the NFHS Network’s offerings and allow every event to be streamed live without requiring personnel to produce the games, thereby eliminating the operational strain created by manual production.

In addition to the new program making these units available to any member schools that do not have them, the NFHS Network will also be assisting member schools by increasing subscription revenue sharing effective August 1.

In a statement, NFHS Network CEO Mark Koski outlined that the network is committed to supporting schools through these unprecedented times.

“We recognize that the next several years will be challenging for our high schools and state associations,” said Koski. “Many are facing budget cuts and reduced resources, and attendance at athletic and other school events may be restricted.”

“From the NFHS Network’s inception seven years ago, we have been driven by the goal to create a platform that showcases every high school event across every sport and every level of competition,” he added. “Consistent with this goal, we want the High School Support Program to demonstrate our continued commitment to help our partner schools manage through the inevitable complications created by COVID-19.”

AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese emphasized his appreciation of the NFHS Network’s efforts.

“The NFHS Network is offering a remarkable opportunity for our schools that are currently without automated production capabilities,” he advised. “As our schools grapple with reduced resources and the potential loss of event-related revenue, the NFHS Network’s High School Support Program can help to reduce COVID-19’s impact. I encourage our eligible schools to sign up for their free Pixellot units immediately.”

In addition to the free Pixellot equipment and revenue enhancements, the High School Support Program will further reportedly offer the ability for fans to directly make donations online to schools of their choosing through the NFHS Network’s platform beginning August 1.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our schools to modernize themselves with automated production capabilities for livestreaming athletics and other high school events—at no cost,” Savarese added. “We’re appreciative of the NFHS Network’s High School Support Program and encourage our eligible schools to take advantage of the free production units and enhanced revenue-sharing from streamed events.”

AHSAA member schools can access additional information and sign up to receive their free Pixellot units here.

“We’re excited for our schools to take part in the NFHS Network’s High School Support Program,” concluded Savarese. “Schools can benefit from the easy to use, fully automated production units to livestream sports events to their fans, allowing them to watch from anywhere. At the same time, revenue sharing from viewer subscriptions can help to offset losses in ticket sales, concessions, and more due to COVID-19. We’re appreciative of the valuable revenue stream being enabled through the program.”

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

1 month ago

Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian undergoes successful heart surgery

(Wikicommons, YHN)

Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian underwent a “successful” heart procedure in recent days, according to a statement released by the University of Alabama Athletics Department on Tuesday afternoon.

The statement outlined that Bama’s football coaching staff participates in an annual executive physical.


“During Coach Sarkisian’s physical last week, it was determined that he needed a procedure to correct a congenital cardiovascular anomaly before it became an issue,” the statement explained. “Coach Sarkisian underwent a successful procedure this past Thursday (July 2) in Birmingham. He is back home in Tuscaloosa and is expected to make a full recovery.”

Sarkisian, 46, was hired as the Tide’s offensive coordinator in January 2019, following a stint with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. Before that, his coaching experience included serving as an offensive analyst for Alabama during the 2016 season, culminating in Sarkisian being interim offensive coordinator in the National Championship game against Clemson. He was previously the head coach at the University of Washington and the University of Southern California (USC).

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

1 month ago

No Barons, Biscuits or Trash Pandas: Minor League Baseball officially cancels 2020 season

(Barons/Trash Pandas/Biscuits/Facebook)

Minor League Baseball (MiLB) announced on Tuesday that the 2020 season has officially been canceled.

Fans of Alabama’s three minor league baseball teams — the Montgomery Biscuits, Rocket City Trash Pandas and Birmingham Barons — will have to wait until 2021 to see their respective squad return to the diamond.

The Major League Baseball season has been greatly constricted by the coronavirus pandemic; the 30 MLB teams will play a schedule of 60 games beginning in late July, instead of the normal 162.

As a result, according to Minor League Baseball, the major league “will not be providing its affiliated Minor League teams with players for the 2020 season.”


The demise of the 2020 MiLB season had been all but certain before Tuesday’s announcement but not yet officially confirmed.

“We are disappointed we will not host a 2020 Birmingham Barons season at Regions Field this summer,” said Barons general manager Jonathan Nelson.

“We look forward to continuing the tradition of Barons baseball at Regions Field in 2021,” he added.

The news is perhaps most disheartening to fans of the nascent Trash Pandas. Formerly the Mobile Bay Bears, the Huntsville-area team never got to play a game of what would have been their inaugural season.

“Obviously, this is an incredibly disappointing day for our fans, staff, and partners,” commented Trash Pandas president and CEO Ralph Nelson before adding, “[b]ut the health and safety of our families and community is paramount above all else.”

Nelson continued, “Baseball has always been part of the healing when our country has come back from tragic times, and I firmly believe the Trash Pandas will help heal North Alabama when we come out on the other side of this pandemic an even stronger community.”

“With the help of our fans, sponsors and the River Region community, we’ll be back as strong as ever. Together, we will get through these unprecedented times and make the Biscuits 2021 season an unforgettable celebration. Until we meet again, stay safe, friends,” concluded Biscuits CEO & managing member Lou DiBella.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

1 month ago

Signs, countdown clocks reflect new dates for Birmingham World Games

(The World Games/Contributed)

A global pandemic postponed the 2020 Olympics and, in turn, the World Games Birmingham was to host in 2021.

Despite the one-year delay, organizers of what is now the Birmingham World Games 2022 want to start building the public’s anticipation again with new signs and updated countdown clocks leading to July 7-17, 2022.


There are new countdown clocks at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Birmingham City Hall and the Uptown entertainment district.

The Birmingham CrossPlex and Legion Field – two of the venues for the World Games 2022 – have new signage.

The Waites Building has a World Games 2022 mural.

New city and state roadway signs identify Birmingham as “Home of the World Games 2022.”

More than 3,600 athletes from around the world are expected to compete in more than 30 sports. The 11-day event is projected to have an economic impact of $256 million. The World Games was established by the International World Games Association, an organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee. The Birmingham event will be the first time the World Games have been held in the U.S. since the inaugural games in Los Angeles in 1981.

Keep up to date with the World Games 2022 at

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)