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 hours ago

Why college football is so popular in the South

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

As college football prepares to celebrate its 150th birthday, answer this question: Why is this sport more popular in the southern United States than anywhere else in the country?

Three Southeastern Conference football legends offered their opinions Tuesday during the conference’s annual SEC Football Media Days in Hoover. Archie Manning says the answer to that question begins in high school.

“High school football is fantastic in the South,” Manning said. “We also have high school coaches that stay with it for their career. I admire that fraternity. Those men don’t coach high school football for the money. They do it because they love what they do.”

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Manning also credits warmer weather, a fact Steve Spurrier says encouraged him to play and coach at Florida.

“I visited in late March when it was 72 in Gainesville and 32 in Johnson City, Tennessee,” Spurrier said. “All I know is I was blessed to go there.”

Herschel Walker says the SEC’s strong football programs help draw fans and players.

“The SEC stands with a lot of power,” Walker said. “People know when you’re going to play a team from the SEC — I don’t care who it is, you better bring more than your lunch because it’s going to be a tough game. Guys are going to play extremely hard.”

Why college football is more popular in the South from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

A number of events celebrating 150 years of college football are scheduled this fall at schools throughout the conference and around the country. In addition, ESPN will be airing “Saturdays in the South,” an eight-part documentary series chronicling the birth and growth of college football in the South.

“You will hear stories of greased railroad tracks, an era before the SEC chant was ever heard, and weave tales through the decades of the modern area of success experienced now by the Southeastern Conference,”  SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said.

Walker shared his own story of how he used a coin flip to choose between a career in the military or college.

“One Sunday in April, my mom asked me, ‘Don’t you think it’s time for you decide what you’re going to do?’ and before she could say anything, she said, ‘If your mind and your heart is pure of the Lord Jesus, it doesn’t really matter of your decision.’ So I decided to flip a coin. It landed on college. I then flipped a coin between Clemson and Georgia, and it landed on Georgia. I wanted to go to USC out in California, so I flipped a coin between those two schools, and it landed on Georgia again. I then pulled the names out of a bag, and I pulled Georgia, and that’s how I ended up at Georgia.”

“Sometimes when you’re naive and stupid, God will take care of you, because that was the right decision,” Walker added.

Why Herschel Walker used a coin flip to decide his plans after high school from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

He also praised a decision by Georgia to name its football field after Vince Dooley.

“He deserves it because he built men,” Walker said. “To name the field after him, I’m happy to be a part of it.”

All three men say they are honored to remain active in college football activities and discussions about the sport.

“I love the college game,” said Manning, who played quarterback at Ole Miss. “I’ve been involved in the National Football Foundation. I love that involvement. We stay close to the game and try to develop leaders through the game. I’ve certainly enjoyed that.”

“There’s something about football,” Spurrier added. “When you only have one game a year, you have bragging rights for the whole year if you win. There’s always a lot riding on the outcome, and it’s benefited all of us up here.”

“To be a part of anything that’s been around 150 years, you’ve got to be honored,” Walker said. “In today’s world, everyone wants to erase history, (which) I think is a shame. For me to be a part of something that’s 150 years old is incredible.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 days ago

SEC Football Media Days kicks off in Alabama

(D. Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey touched on sports gambling, player mental health, officiating and this year’s historic milestone for college football as he kicked off SEC Football Media Daysin Hoover.

The commissioner went over those and other topics ranging from looks back to last year and to issues that will be relevant for the coming year. One of the primary issues he brought up for the coming year is sports gambling.

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“The SEC presidents and chancellors have expressed strong support for NCAA national office efforts to seek federal legislation that will regulate sports gambling,” Sankey said. “Ideally, there would be uniform practices governing gambling on college sports, particularly eliminating in-game betting and proposition bets on college sports.”

The commissioner went on to talk about the effects that unregulated sports gambling can have on student-athletes and what the conference plans to do to support them.

Celebrating 150 years of college football at SEC Media Days 2019 from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“We’re seeing trends in the mental health area that should cause us all to pause before these ideas around specific event betting within college sports are allowed to take place. And I’m talking about, for example, whether a field goal is made or missed, whether a three-point try is successful. Is a pitched ball a strike or a ball?” Sankey said. “In January, five autonomy conferences adopted new minimum requirements for a provision of mental health counseling for student-athletes. I’m pleased to say for the Southeastern Conference, we meet or exceed those requirements.”

Sankey also discussed new officiating procedures, particularly how the league will address the public regarding calls and the addition of a sideline monitor used for looking over replay footage. “One of the benefits, in addition to the extra voice in the process, will be the ability to better explain replay decisions from the official to our head coaches on the field.” Other measures include more consistent training and overviews with officials and the creation of new communication channels to inform the public.

Sankey also discussed events celebrating 150 years of college football that take place all season with ESPN, including the documentary series “Saturdays in the South” and other activities that SEC schools will participate in.

SEC players will display commemorative patches on their uniforms. The league will also celebrate 150 of the finest moments of SEC football.

These will not be selected by the commissioner, Sankey said. “So, if someone gets angry about whether or not a moment is part of their 150th best, it won’t be me.”

The “Saturday’s in the South” documentary series will broadcast on Tuesdays for 90 minutes beginning in August in eight parts. “You will hear stories of greased railroad tracks, an era before the SEC chant was ever heard, and weave tales through the decades of the modern area of success experienced now by the Southeastern Conference,” Sankey said.

A preview of the series is being shown to select media groups Tuesday, July 16 at Birmingham’s historic Lyric Theatre.

To visit the new SEC Officiating Website: www.secsports.com/officiating.

4 days ago

ALFA donates truck to Auburn University equestrian team

Donated by the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Companies, the Auburn University equestrian team and equestrian Coach Greg Williams are now the proud owners of a 2019 Duramax Diesel Chevrolet Silverado 2500.

“This truck is an amazing asset for us,” Williams said. “This is going to be a very nice vehicle to use when accepting donated horses or for safely transporting horses to the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Plus, we can use it to pick up feed and move laundry for the horses from the equipment room to the barn.”

He added, “It looks so nice, as well. It’s like a marketing piece for our sport. I couldn’t be happier.”

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The gift to the team celebrates the Tigers’ undefeated season and 2019 national championship win, which marked the first recorded since the sport was accepted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1998.

According to the online statement, “The 2018-19 team included 15 seniors who completed their collegiate athletic careers with a 61-10 record, two Southeastern Conference championships, and three national championships in 2019, 2018 and 2016.”

“Under Coach Williams’ leadership, Auburn’s equestrian program truly demonstrates a championship culture, resulting in consistent excellence in competition, the classroom and the community,” said Auburn Director of Athletics Allen Greene. “We deeply appreciate the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa for their extraordinary generosity.”

Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance President Jimmy Parnell expressed his excitement for the team, calling the team’s efforts “inspiring.”

“It’s inspiring to see how committed these young women are to this sport, and it’s a pleasure to support the team with this truck donation,” said Parnell, who attended Auburn University. “They’ve definitely gotten a lot of people excited, and that’s a good thing for the entire agricultural community in the state.”

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

5 days ago

Talladega Superspeedway renovations ahead of schedule

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

Construction of a new infield fan zone and garages at Talladega Superspeedway is ahead of schedule.

Track officials and construction supervisors gave members of the media a tour of the infield Wednesday, which included a ceremony with crews setting the final steel beam of the new 35,000-square-foot Open Air Club. Gary Merriman, senior superintendent for Hoar Construction, rewarded his crew with the opportunity to sign the steel beam before it was set.

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“They’ve all worked very hard,” Merriman said. “We’re blessed to grow up in an environment where we all love racing and where we all love what goes on here at Talladega. It was a neat experience for each and every one of us to be here to construct this.”

Phase 2 of Talladega Superspeedway renovations ahead of schedule from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The construction is part of the track’s $50 million “Transformation” as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. The centerpiece of the project is the Talladega Garage Experience, a place where fans can interact with NASCAR’S top drivers and crews. Fans who buy admission to the Talladega Garage Experience will receive access inside all of the Monster Energy Cup Series garages via an “up-close” fan viewing walkway and will be under the same roof where race teams are prepping the race cars. Russell Branham, director of Public Relations for Talladega Superspeedway, applauded Merriman and his crew for getting the project ahead of schedule.

“I think they’ve done an incredible job,” Branham said. “It’s only appropriate that at the fastest race track we have the fastest construction team.”

Merriman said crews have worked extra hours to keep the project on track.

“We come in at 1:30 in the morning on slab pours,” Merriman said. “Certain concrete pours have to take place in the coolness of the early morning, so there are some 16-hour days.”

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. Merriman said the project is currently 40% complete and is scheduled to be finished by Sept. 20, well in advance of the track’s next NASCAR race in October. Branham said the construction is exciting.

“To be here and to be a part of all of this, I feel like a kid again,” Branham said. “Knowing what this is going to mean for the fans, it really takes me back to when I was a kid.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 weeks ago

Former Univ. of Alabama soccer star becomes first Tide alumna on World Cup final squad

(Univ. of Alabama/Twitter)

Former University of Alabama soccer standout Merel van Dongen became the first player in program history to advance to a World Cup final in the Netherlands’ 2-0 loss to the United States on Sunday.

Van Dongen, who played for the Crimson Tide from 2012-14, was an unused substitute in the final. However, she had previously made four consecutive starts, including playing Holland’s entire semifinals victory against Sweden. The UA alumna logged six total appearances and 409 minutes played in the tournament.

During her time in Tuscaloosa, van Dongen was named SEC Freshman of the Year and later to the All-SEC second team. She holds the program record for assists in a single season and assists per game over a career.

The Dutch standout was joined by former UA defender Celia Jimenez Delgado of Spain in representing the Tide at this year’s tournament in France. Spain was knocked out by the U.S. in the round of 16.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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3 weeks ago

Tinted visor from UAB changes way vision-challenged athletes see the game

(Savannah Koplon/UAB)

For 11-year-old Talyn Lewis, playing outdoor sports posed unique challenges. As he was born with albinism, a genetic condition in which a person is born with little to no pigment in their skin, hair and/or eyes, extreme light sensitivity makes it harder for Talyn to play sports outside because he naturally has no melanin in either iris to block the sun.

“The refs didn’t want me to use a tinted visor even though my pediatrician said I could,” Talyn recalled.

University of Alabama at Birmingham optometrists and ophthalmologists who specialize in retina, neurology, low vision and pediatrics worked with lead medical personnel from the Blazers’ athletics department and changed the paradigm for Talyn and other vision-challenged children. Together, they developed a special visor to enable those with medical-related light sensitivity to play football and worked to modify existing restrictions that did not allow for tinted visors or other apparatuses.

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“Many kids who have severe light sensitivity want to be like other kids, and that means many want to be part of a team playing outdoor sports,” said Kathy Weise, O.D., professor at UAB’s School of Optometry and director of UAB Eye Care Pediatric Optometry Services. “However, the light sensitivity that kids with certain health conditions experience can be very significant. We knew we could help maximize comfort, safety and access to play for more kids with special conditions. When I was asked to consider ideas that might help kids with light sensitivity or light-induced health issues, I immediately thought of my pal Talyn and wanted to help.”

Weise helped develop BlazerVision, a partnership between UAB Athletics, the School of Optometry and the Department of Ophthalmology, but knew that change needed to start at the high school level. UAB’s team of eye doctors, along with its lead football team physician and athletic trainer, helped develop a list of specific vison and health conditions that may benefit from adding a tinted visor in a football helmet. They pitched it to the medical director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, where the ball really got rolling.

“We haven’t seen tinted visors meet regulation standards in sports like football because, although they may seem practical, it may be harder to check the face or the eyes quickly through the visor, or factors like weather may cause the visor to fog up,” Weise said. “So, the tinted visors aren’t for everyone. However, knowing that there are a variety of eye and health conditions that could benefit from having a tinted visor, this is a great first step in keeping these eager kids playing sports that they love, just like their peers.”

When Weise and her UAB team of eye and athletic experts presented the idea to the AHSAA, they suspected that Alabama may be the first in the country to offer this type of help for kids.

In spring 2019, the AHSAA approved allowing physician-recommended tinted visors to be worn by athletes with “inherited and/or congenital eye conditions that limit useful vision in daylight or bright-light environments.”

While this comes at the high school level, Weise sees great potential that a tinted visor could one day be allowed at the collegiate level as well.

“We know these eye and systemic conditions aren’t outgrown, so if we are keeping athletes engaged in sports in high school by means of the tinted helmet visor, these kids could have a chance to play in college, too — maybe even as a UAB Blazer,” Weise remarked. “UAB Football would love to continue to develop ways to enable more kids to stay healthy through all types of sports.”

As for Talyn, he still has a few years until he can play sports in high school, but his eyes are definitely open. He loves basketball and knows the path to play football in high school is one he can pursue.

“He’s always been walking around squinting and has always had to keep something on his eyes, so it’s exciting when you find out that there are options out there,” said Karen Gunter, Talyn’s grandmother. “Just to know that something like this tinted helmet visor exists is simply fantastic. It’s really special knowing that there are doctors out there who understand.”

To see a full list of approved eye and systemic conditions that may indicate tinted helmet visors by the AHSAA, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 weeks ago

Auburn’s Bruce Pearl slams AOC for ‘concentration camps’ tweets: ‘Attempt to rewrite the Holocaust’

(MSNBC/YouTube, AU/Contributed)

Auburn University head basketball coach Bruce Pearl is not tolerating what he views as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) “attempt to rewrite the holocaust” after she compared current immigration facilities in the U.S. to “concentration camps.”

Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday tweeted, “This administration (the Trump administration) has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying.”

“This is not hyperbole,” she claimed. “It is the conclusion of expert analysis.”

In a follow-up tweet the same day, she doubled down and blamed others for taking offense to her original tweet.

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“And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps,” Ocasio-Cortez asserted.

“Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial,'” she concluded. “And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.”

In a direct response to Ocasio-Cortez, Pearl tweeted, “Tell that to the people who died and survived those concentration camps that they don’t know the difference.”

“Never again is reserved for the 9 million people murdered including 6 million Jews,” he added. “The comparison is attempt to rewrite the holocaust! Stop!”

Pearl this spring became the fourth Jewish head coach in NCAA history to take a team to the Final Four. He was the first president of the Jewish Coaches Association.

This came as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski made similar “concentration camps” comparisons on Tuesday, with the two liberal media personalities drawing rebukes from the Auschwitz Memorial’s official Twitter account.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 month ago

Alabama leads effort to reduce youth sports injuries

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

A group of athletes, doctors and public health professionals from Alabama are leading a national effort to reduce sports injuries among youths.

That group, called the CoachSafely Foundation, hosted a panel discussion Friday at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham to discuss better ways to train youth coaches how to prevent and recognize sports injuries such as concussions, heat-related illnesses and overuse injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the rise of concussions in youth sports an epidemic, which was echoed by Orthopedic Surgeon & Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. James Andrews.

“There’s been a tenfold increase since the year 2000 in injuries in youth sports, and these are not just minor injuries — these are what we call adult sports injuries that used to only occur in college and professional athletes,” Andrews said.

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Andrews referenced a 2014 report conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide, which said:

  • 1.24 million children were seen in emergency rooms for sports injuries in 2013
  • 90 percent of athletes said they have been injured while playing a sport
  • 54 percent said they had played injured
  • Less than 50 percent of coaches said they have received certification on how to prevent and recognize sports injuries.

Margaret White, Public Relations director at Alabama Power, is one of those who played injured in high school and was later treated by Andrews. She told her story to the group Friday because she wants to see a bigger support system for youth athletes.

“It’s not just engaged parents, but it’s knowledgeable coaches, doctors, community leaders — certainly not the desires of stubborn, short-sighted young athletes,” White said.

Drew Ferguson, president of the CoachSafely Foundation and a director at Children’s of Alabama, said the group is committed to carrying this message nationally.

“We’ve got the nation’s attention by some of the people who are here today,” Ferguson said. “This foundation is going to give us a tremendous opportunity to create a standard of care both here in Alabama and throughout the country.”

Wayne Moss, executive director of the National Council of Youth Sports, said he was “blown away” when he first learned about the work of the CoachSafely Foundation.

“I don’t think the people outside of these doors really know what’s going on,” Moss said. “I don’t think they get something miraculous has happened here. There will be a day that we look back and see that youth safety started in Alabama.”

Other panelists echoed the importance of the work.

“When I got the call about CoachSafely, it’s a no-brainer,” said Izell Reese, executive director of NFL Flag Football. “Youth safety in youth sports is just as important as a background check.”

“We want to be a part of this because these kids are what will feed into our middle schools and high schools,” said Alvin Briggs, associate executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association. “If they’re not taught right, then what do we have when they get to our programs?”

“We as Park and Rec professionals want to lead and we want to be difference makers as we move forward,” said Natalie Norman, executive director of the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association.

One panel participant who can speak from a position of success is Jimmy Robinson, the University of Alabama football team doctor.

“I live at the other extreme of what we’re trying to get going here: I live in the utopia,” Robinson said. “I’ve got all these resources around me and the ability to help talk care of our athletes at the highest level. At the coach safely level, at the youth sports level, it’s just the opposite, and that’s one thing we need to do. Preparedness and prevention is the key.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 month ago

SEC Baseball Tournament at Hoover Met sees record crowds

(Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics)

Record crowds of more than 160,000 people attended the 2019 SEC Baseball Tournament.

The tournament, held annually at the Hoover Met Complex, had an estimated $15 million economic impact on the area.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the conference three years ago looked for a host site that would enhance the tournament experience for fans. “After reviewing numerous proposals and visiting a number of potential sites, it turned out that Hoover, our longtime home, could provide everything necessary to make it the right venue for SEC Baseball,” Sankey said.

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He said the city of Hoover stepped things up with the Finley Center to house the SEC Fan Fest, the construction of on-site practice fields and, this year, the addition of a new video board.

“We feel those changes in particular have been game-changers in providing the SEC with a ‘baseball campus’ that is unique to college post-season tournaments,” Sankey said.

From May 21-26, 12 teams competed in the double elimination tournament, which was won by Vanderbilt.

Throughout the week, 162,699 people attended the various baseball games and 32,000 of those attendees came through the SEC Fan Fest. The area included access to inflatables, arcade games, a zip line, climbing, miniature golf course, live entertainment, food and beverage options and more. Fans were able to watch the game from a giant flat-screen TV and couches in the large, air-conditioned facility.

“The 2019 SEC Baseball Tournament was a tremendous success at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex,” said Hoover Mayor Frank V. Brocato. “The city of Hoover was able to welcome a record-setting number of baseball fans throughout the week and attendees had many options for activities around the baseball tournament once they arrived at the complex. … It is certainly our privilege to have hosted this tournament for the past 22 years. We look forward to seeing everyone back in 2020.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 month ago

Nick Saban talks Nick’s kids, retirement odds, stadium renovations and more

Nick Saban speaks to the media at the Nick's Kids Golf Tournament June 6. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

Alabama football coach Nick Saban laughed off retirement plans, discussed the amateurism of college sports and talked about the renovation plans of Bryant-Denny Stadium Thursday.

Saban spoke to reporters at the 13th Annual Nick’s Kids Golf Tournament at Birmingham’s Old Overton Club.

“We’re really excited about being here,” Saban said. “The Nick’s Kids (Foundation) is all about my dad’s legacy of trying to give back to young people and help them to have an opportunity to be successful in life and also to honor the people who help the young people. We’ve had a lot of great supporters throughout the years. We certainly appreciate their support and what they’ve done to help us be able to help others. I don’t get to see these folks that often, so this is a day that we look forward to. I actually stand on one hole and play one hole with everybody, so I get to renew some of those acquaintances. Their relationship is valued by Miss Terry and I both.”

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Saban says the foundation has given out well over $8 million since he and his wife, Terry, arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007.

“I raise it, and she spends it,” Saban said.

Saban was on the golf course despite having had hip surgery in April. He admitted doctors still won’t allow him to swing his driver or 3-wood, but he can use anything from a 5-iron up. He said he can do the things he needs to without a great risk of injuring his hip.

“I think it will still take a few weeks of strengthening to get back to normal,” he said.

Saban said surgery recovery has made it clear that he is not ready to stop working, which is why he chuckles at those who are literally betting on his retirement date (the over-under is apparently 5.5 years).

“That’s the first I’ve heard of that one, but it’s amusing,” he said. “After the six hours I spent at home in the chair after I got home from the hospital, I was outside walking around in the yard, and I think Miss Terry was ready to call the police on me if I didn’t get back in the house, so that’s not something that I enjoy and that’s not something I really want to do anytime soon. I just enjoy being part of the team, the relationships – to have Julio Jones come back the first two days I was doing my rehab on my hip, he was there with me doing it. Tua came in yesterday while I was doing rehab and gave me a medical examination, so some of these things are really special, so no time soon. I don’t know what Vegas knows that I don’t know.”

(Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

Saban also talked about what proposed stadium renovations reveal about the football program at Alabama.

“I think it speaks volumes to a commitment to a standard of excellence that the University, the athletic department has to continue to be our best,” he said. “If you stand pat and everybody else is chasing you and what you do, they’re eventually going to catch you. To be aggressive in trying to make improvements is really important.”

(Courtesy Alabama NewsCenter)

1 month ago

Auburn gymnast walks down wedding aisle after serious injury

(Sam Cerio/Instagram)

A gymnast who suffered a severe leg injury accomplished her goal of walking down the aisle at her wedding.

The Advocate reports Auburn University graduate Samantha Cerio shared photos on Instagram Monday of the ceremony in Fairhope.

The gymnast dislocated both knees and tore ligaments in both legs during a competition in April. After having surgery, she said she wanted to recover enough in time to walk down the aisle at the ceremony.

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Cerio used crutches to cross the stage at her graduation in May. She earned a degree in aerospace engineering.

Cerio walked down the aisle free of crutches to marry fiancé Trey Wood.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 months ago

Former Troy head coach Larry Blakeney on College Football Hall of Fame ballot

(Football Foundation/Twitter)

Troy University football legend Larry Blakeney, an Alabama native, will be considered on the 2020 College Football Hall of Fame ballot.

Blakeney was the Trojans’ head football coach from 1991-2014. He is a graduate of Auburn University, where he was a three-year letterman in football and two-year letterman in baseball.

Born in Birmingham, Blakeney coached at three different Alabama high schools before becoming an assistant football coach at Auburn in 1977. He served there until taking over the head job at then-Troy State.

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State Rep. Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City), a former sideline reporter for the Troy Sports Radio Network, tweeted his support for Blakeney’s candidacy.

One of only two coaches to have taken a college football program from NCAA Division II to the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, Blakeney has previously been inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame, the Troy University Sports Hall of Fame and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

His blurb on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot as follows:

Larry Blakeney-Troy (1991-2014)-All-time winningest coach in Sun Belt Conference history…Four-time conference Coach of the Year who led the Trojans to eight conference titles (5 – Sun Belt, 3 – Southland) and seven FCS playoff appearances in eight seasons…Led Troy to four bowl games, including wins at the 2006 and 2010 New Orleans Bowl.

Only 219 individuals have previously been named as coaches to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Before the deadline of June 21, over 12,000 members of the National Football Foundation and current members of the Hall of Fame will submit their ballots. The National Football Foundation’s FBS Honor Court will then determine the fate of Blakeney’s 2020 candidacy.

The announcement of the 2020 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be made in January in the days leading up to the College Football Playoff National Championship in New Orleans.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Keeping score: Manual scoreboard at Birmingham’s Rickwood Classic keeps it old school

(Solomon Crenshaw Jr./Alabama NewsCenter)

When teams score 13 runs in a baseball game, you might say they are lighting up the scoreboard.

Unless you’re talking about Wednesday’s 23rd annual Rickwood Classic game, in which the Montgomery Biscuits beat the Birmingham Barons 9-4.

The high-scoring contest didn’t light up the scoreboard at Rickwood Field because the scoring on the board beyond the outfield fence isn’t kept by electrically powered light bulbs. The old-time manual scoreboard is one of the unusual features of the ballpark that drew 7,015 to the 12:30 p.m. contest.

Volunteers from the Friends of Rickwood scaled a 30-foot ladder and stood on a scaffold to change the score each time a baserunner crossed the plate.

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That was tough, 18-year-old Carson Weldon said, since you can’t see what the fans in the stands are seeing. Tougher still, he said, is updating the men on the mound and behind the plate.

“Pitchers and catchers are hard because you’ve got to see the (jersey) numbers from all the way back here and you’ve got to put it up fast enough for everyone to see,” he said.

Weldon and his brother Connor were among the volunteers working with the Friends of Rickwood. Dan Weinrib, a board member with Friends of Rickwood, couldn’t have been more pleased with drawing scoreboard duty for the Classic.

“The best part of doing this job is you get to watch the game,” he said. “All the other volunteers have to tend to other duties, but the job of the scoreboard folks is to keep current. We get to watch the game, but we also welcome visitors to come up and take in a view of the game.

“They can’t do this at Wrigley or Fenway because those are working areas for staff only,” he said of the major league ballparks in Chicago and Boston. “We’re a living museum. We want people to explore and experience Rickwood from all 360 degrees.”

Scott Marona was among those who scaled the ladder behind the scoreboard. In doing so, he took a trip down memory lane.

The Huntsville resident played at Rickwood as a 15-year-old ninth grader in a state Dizzy Dean all-star tournament. At 45, he was back at the venerable ballpark playing in a 35-older baseball league.

Rickwood Field even transcended generations for him. His son played there as a 17-year-old and the ballpark is where his father saw his first pro baseball game in 1948.

“I come back here every year,” Marona said. “You love the nostalgia of this park. This is one of the meccas of baseball. You don’t see many old-time things that are kept intact, that are kept outdated on purpose, and this is one of them. Unless you go to Fenway Park you don’t experience what It’s like to go back in old-time baseball.

“It’s a great venue, a great atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a shame they only do it once a year. We love it and it’s really worth coming down here for it.”

Birmingham native Richard Kaley drove from Mobile Wednesday morning to take in the game. Well before the first pitch, he ventured beyond the outfield fence to see the X that marked the spot where a mammoth home run hit by Walt Dropo made contact.

Hal Burton, 70, drove Tuesday night from Key Largo, Florida. He snapped pictures of the X, thinking about a time when home runs were no big deal on the diamond.

“Home runs weren’t popular before Babe Ruth,” the Jasper native said. “Babe Ruth made it popular. These old walls were moved in to the current walls. At this (original) distance, nobody could hit it over the wall.

“That’s how baseball has changed over the last 100 years,” Burton said. “I used to come to Rickwood in the late ‘50s. I grew up in Jasper and we’d come over and watch the Barons at Rickwood Field.”

Weinrib, the Friends of Rickwood board member, noted that the current outfield wall was designed for the movie “Cobb” with a 1948 style.

“The scoreboard that was put up by movie studios wasn’t meant to last decades, but it lasted close to 20 years,” he said. “We replaced it but made it look like it did in 1948 once again. People think this is the original scoreboard; it isn’t. It’s a recreation of what was here in ’48. Incidentally, the remnant of chain link fence here was part of the outfield fence in the 1980s when the Barons last (regularly) played here. It’s all part of history.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

Baseball legend Lou Piniella is guest of honor for Birmingham Barons’ Rickwood Classic

(Solomon Crenshaw Jr./Alabama NewsCenter)

Lou Piniella recalled spending one year as a student at the University of Tampa, where he played basketball and baseball.

“I saw I wasn’t going to be a Rhodes scholar in college,” Piniella said, “so I signed (a baseball contract) after my freshman season.”

Piniella, 75, would go on to play 1,700 games and manage 3,000 games in the major leagues, earning three World Series championship rings.

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The former major leaguer was the guest of honor for the 2019 Rickwood Classic, which pits the home-standing Birmingham Barons against the Montgomery Biscuits.

Levy’s Fine Jewelers sponsors the annual return to Rickwood Field on Birmingham’s westside. Tuesday, Piniella visited with baseball fans at the jewelry store and recorded a conversation with Curt Bloom, the radio voice of the Barons.

Piniella signed autographs during his visit to the jewelry store Tuesday. Most of his signatures were placed on baseballs, with a few going onto baseball cards, a replica baseball jersey and one on an old magazine.

Perhaps the most unusual item Piniella signed was a base from his final major league baseball game, Aug. 22, 2010. The autographed base will be a surprise birthday present for the brother of the man who got the autograph.

“The Cubs sold a lot of their stuff to a group called Steiner Sports,” the man said. “He’s a big Cubs fan.”

The former major leaguer said that while his baseball career took him to several stops, he’s “always a Yankee.” Will that bother the man’s brother?

“Nah,” he said with a laugh. “We’re not Yankee haters. We’re big fans of (Piniella). We love his style.”

Mike Eady, 66, had the replica jersey of the Kansas City Royals, the team with which Piniella played his rookie season.

“They were giveaways at the Kansas City ballpark last year when they honored Piniella on his rookie year,” said Eady, a retired school teacher. “I’ll always keep it.”

Eady was at Levy’s because a visit from the Barons’ special guest is an annual part of the Rickwood Classic.

“I haven’t missed one yet,” the Irondale resident said of the Barons’ annual return to the vintage ballpark. “I just love the atmosphere and coming down here and meeting a former ballplayer who’s probably going to be in the Hall of Fame as a manager or a ballplayer.”

An outfielder in the major leagues, Piniella played 16 seasons with the Baltimore OriolesCleveland IndiansKansas City Royals and New York Yankees. During his playing career, he was named American League Rookie of the Year in 1969 and captured two World Series championships with the Yankees.

Following his playing career, Piniella became a manager for the New York Yankees (1986-1988), Cincinnati Reds (1990-1992), Seattle Mariners (1993-2002), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2003-2005) and Chicago Cubs (2007-2010). He won the 1990 World Series championship with the Reds and led the Mariners to four postseason appearances in seven years.

The former player and manager also captured back-to-back division titles (2007-2008) during his time with the Cubs. Piniella was named Manager of the Year three times during his career (1995, 2001 and 2008) and finished his managerial career ranked 14th all time on the list of managerial wins.

He was nicknamed “Sweet Lou,” both for his swing as a major league hitter and, facetiously, to describe his demeanor as a player and manager.

Tuesday was not Piniella’s first trip to Alabama. He was a member of the New York Yankees team in 1978 that traveled to face the Crimson Tide in a preseason contest.

“They came to Tuscaloosa because George Steinbrenner and Bear Bryant were close,” Eady recalled. “Bear wanted them to come up and they did.”

Piniella recalled that his first minor league stint was for a team in Selma in the old Alabama-Florida League. Well after his playing days, he had a small piece of the Montgomery Biscuits for about 10 years.

While Piniella earned three World Series rings in his baseball career, he wears only one ring, the one he got with the 1977 Yankees.

“I would think the first one is more special,” he said. But even without a ring to show for it, Piniella has fond memories of his managerial stop with the Seattle Mariners.

“We won 116 (regular season games in 2001),” he recalled. “That’s an all-time American League record.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

SEC removes prohibition on alcohol sales in stadiums; UA President Bell involved in studying issue

(Pixabay, YHN)

In a major policy change, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) on Friday announced the end of its longstanding prohibition on beer and wine being sold for general seating in its members’ stadiums during athletic contests.

The Montgomery Advertiser’s Alex Byington reported that Dr. Stuart Bell, president of the University of Alabama, was a member of the select five-member working group who helped study the issue, which resulted in new regulations being adopted.

The new alcohol policies will be effective August 1, well in time for college football season. Hard liquor sales will still be banned.

New regulations as follows:

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Individual universities will now have the power to decide whether to allow alcohol sales in general seating and concourses inside their stadiums. Many SEC programs, including the University of Alabama and Auburn University, already allow alcohol in private suites.

UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne has been a proponent of ending the SEC’s blanket alcohol sales prohibition. The new policies could be big boosts to UA and Auburn’s home basketball game revenues, if the universities eventually choose to participate, in addition to the obvious football possibilities.

Auburn Undercover is reporting that Auburn President Steven Leath said the university will not offer alcohol sales for general seating at home football games in 2019. The following year might be a possibility but is not a certainty even with the SEC’s new regulations.

“My personal opinion is that we ought to just think about, from a campus perspective, … what makes sense for us and I don’t have an answer for that,” Auburn Athletics Director Allen Greene told Auburn Undercover. “That’s a much more collaborative institutional discussion.”

Alabama Media Group is reporting that Byrne on Friday only noted that UA was not “leading the charge” regarding in-stadium alcohol sales. He has previously advocated for each respective institution being able to study the issue and make the best decision for their unique situation regarding alcohol sales at athletic events.

An official UA statement concluded, “We have one of the best game-day atmospheres in the country, and we don’t envision making changes at this time.”

This is a breaking story and may be updated with additional comments.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

GoFundMe set up for children of Rod, Paula Bramblett

(GoFundMe)

A GoFundMe has been established to raise money for the two children of the late Rod and Paula Bramblett after the “Voice of the Auburn Tigers” and his wife were the victims of a fatal auto accident on Saturday night.

The GoFundMe will benefit Shelby and Joshua Bramblett. According to a description on the fundraising page, Shelby is a sophomore at Auburn University and Joshua will be a 10th grader at Auburn High School this fall.

“This fund will help Shelby and Joshua move forward with life’s expenses,” the GoFundMe page says. “Shelby, Joshua, and their family appreciate your kindness and support.”

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The page was established on Sunday night. While Rod’s longtime role with the Tigers is well known, Paula also served Auburn University, working in the office of information technology.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 months ago

Former Alabama QB and NFL great Bart Starr dies at 85

(Screenshot/YouTube)

With tragedy already rocking the Alabama sports world this weekend, the state took another hit with the loss of former University of Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bart Starr’s passing on Sunday.

Starr, an NFL Hall of Fame inductee who played for the Green Bay Packers, died at age 85 in Birmingham. Since suffering a stroke in 2014, he had been fighting health problems.

Starr was selected by the Packers out of Alabama with the 200th pick in the draft in 1956. He went on to lead Green Bay to five NFL championships and wins in the first two Super Bowls.

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“While he may always be best known for his success as the Packers quarterback for 16 years, his true legacy will always be the respectful manner in which he treated every person he met, his humble demeanor, and his generous spirit,” Starr’s family said in a statement released by the Packers.

@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.

2 months ago

UPDATE: Auburn Tigers radio announcer Rod Bramblett, wife killed in auto accident

(Screenshot/YouTube)

UPDATE: According to the Opelika-Auburn News, Rod Bramblett has died as a result of injuries from an automobile accident in Auburn on Saturday.

Initially, according to multiple reports Saturday, Bramblett was critically injured in a two-vehicle accident Saturday night in Auburn. Also according to reports, his wife Paula was pronounced dead after being transported to East Alabama Medical Center.

According to an article by Opelika-Auburn News editor Troy Turner, the accident occurred on Shug Jordan Parkway at West Samford Avenue and Bramblett was airlifted to UAB Hospital in Birmingham.

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Auburn University put out a statement asking the Auburn Family to keep the Bramblett family in your thoughts and prayers.

Turner’s report indicated that alcohol was not a factor in the accident according to Lee County Coroner Bill Harris.

@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.

2 months ago

Alabama Power Junior Clinic teaches lessons about golf and life

(Christopher Jones/Contributed)

Sunny, clear skies greeted participants in the annual Junior Clinic at Regions Tradition at the Greystone Golf Course in Hoover.

Nearly 200 students participated in the annual clinic, learning not only about golf but also about the game of life.

PGA Tour Champions professionals Ken Tanigawa and Shaun Micheel were the instructors of the clinic, held the morning of Tuesday, May 7.

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The clinic was ahead of the Regions Tradition, which will run through Sunday, May 12.

Children’s of Alabama is the tournament’s primary beneficiary. Since the tourney began in 1992, more than $17 million has been raised to benefit charities.

On Wednesday, the Celebrity Pro-Am featured sports celebrities, including University of Alabama coach Nick Saban, Auburn coach Gus Malzhan, former Auburn running back and pro football player Bo Jackson, former Alabama running back and pro football player Trent Richardson, and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

Regions Junior Clinic educates and entertains students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama Newscenter)

2 months ago

State rep seeks to allow popular fantasy sports games in Alabama

(W. Hui/Flickr)

Technology provides consumers access to most anything these days, right from their fingertips. Getting directions, finding out the weather, listening to music, watching movies and playing games have all been reduced to an app on your phone.

One member of the Alabama legislature wants to expand those game options for the state’s fantasy sports fanatics.

State Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette) has sponsored a bill which will permit consumers in Alabama to engage in daily fantasy sports contests most often played through an app like the ones on a phone.

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In fantasy sports contests, participants choose a virtual team of real-world pro athletes to create lineups which then compete against lineups assembled by other game players. The competition occurs based on the statistical performance of those athletes.

The fantasy players whose athletes perform the best — statistically — win.

Among the sports from which a daily fantasy player can choose are football, basketball, baseball, NASCAR and golf.

South thinks much of the popularity behind fantasy sports games comes from the camaraderie between contestants.

“It’s an interaction between fans and the sports that they love and their peers,” he explained. “It’s a peer to peer game. It allows you to have an interest in a sporting event that you might otherwise not have.”

All of the states bordering Alabama allow for the playing of daily fantasy sports either through an app or online. The games are played in 43 total states.

While neighboring states have been able to gain a clearer understanding of fantasy sports, South believes some confusion still exists in Alabama about the nature of the games.

He points out that fantasy sports games require considerable skill and knowledge of the athletes and teams for which they play.

South says the difference between skilled and unskilled players matters in fantasy sports, and that’s what makes it different from sports gambling.

“No offense to my mom, but if we play ten times I’m going to beat her all ten times,” he contended.

He said that there is no doubt a clear skill requirement exists in fantasy sports, and he also sees a parallel between fantasy sports and the modern version of sports on the field.

“One thing you can point to are all these major league baseball teams, these professional sports teams are going to an analytics-based system for choosing their players,” South said. “And that’s all we’re doing here.”

The type of analytics-based approach South refers to has taken off in professional sports to the point where an MIT graduate with no professional baseball experience is now the general manager for the San Francisco Giants.

The legislation will simply allow people to play a game where they can be the general manager of their own virtual sports teams, South says.

The average fee to enter a daily fantasy sports contest and compete against other players is three dollars, according to industry data. An estimated 53 million people nationwide participate in fantasy contests. And, in Alabama, an estimated 700,000 people have played fantasy sports.

Aiming to clear up the confusion surrounding the games, South revised his legislation during the committee process to ensure that sports gambling activity would not pop up if his bill became law.

“We added an amendment that made the focus of it a lot more narrow,” he said.

Applying some of his own experience in sports to how fantasy sports are conducted allows him to make comparisons he hopes will help, as well.

“I’m a golfer but same goes for a fishing tournament where you pay an entry fee and the winner receives a cash or cash equivalent prize,” South pointed out. “Some variables are based on chance like conditions and water temperature but the dominant factor is skill. The same applies to fantasy sports.”

It all goes back to being smart about which players you choose and when you play them, South says.

“If we say that there is nothing to the science of analytics, then why does Bill Belichick and the Patriots keep winning every year?” he asked.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

3 months ago

Birmingham among top TV markets for most-watched NFL Draft in history

According to data released Monday by ESPN, this past weekend’s NFL Draft was the most watched in history — and Birmingham’s television market helped make that milestone possible.

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The 2019 draft was also big for the Yellowhammer State for other reasons.

According to Max Preps, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams’ selection as the third overall pick this year marked the eighth top-ten overall pick since 2009 for Alabama high schools. Williams attended Wenonah High School in Birmingham before starring at the University of Alabama.

UA produced more drafted players (10) than any other school this year after the Crimson Tide boasted the same accomplishment in 2018 when 12 of Coach Nick Saban’s players were selected by NFL teams.

Per Alabama Media Group‘s tally, 21 players in total with Alabama ties – having attended college and/or high school in the state – were drafted this year.

This did not include Washington State University’s star quarterback Gardner Minshew, who had a brief stint at Troy University at the beginning of his collegiate career and actually turned down a graduate transfer offer by the University of Alabama before heading to WSU to play his final season. Minshew was selected in the fifth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday.

However, the 21-player total did include six players from Auburn University, plus defensive tackle Byron Cowart, who played on the Plains in the 2015 and 2016 seasons but for Maryland in 2018.

Another tremendous draft story for the state was offensive tackle Tytus Howard, the 23rd overall pick. Howard walked on at Alabama State in Montgomery after not having a star rating at all coming out of Monroe County High School.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 months ago

Fan favorite Chase Elliott takes GEICO 500 win at Talladega Superspeedway

(Talladega Superspeedway)

TALLADEGA — It’s been 32 years since an Elliott has gone to victory lane at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway, but on Sunday Chase Elliott was able to follow in his father’s footsteps by winning the GEICO 500.

His win was well received by those in attendance. Given his deep roots in the sports by being NASCAR great Bill Elliott’s son, the younger Elliott is perhaps the favorite of modern-day NASCAR fans.

Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman finished second, with rookie Ryan Preece and Ford driver Joey Logano in tow for third and fourth-place finishes and rookie Daniel Hemric rounding out the top five.

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The 23-year-old Elliott survived a crash-filled chaotic ending to secure his first victory of the 2019 season. He led 44 laps, the most of any driver for four different spans in his first superspeedway win.

Chase Elliott leads the field to the checkered flag, 4/28/2019 (Jeff Poor/YHN)

Elliott’s father Bill Elliott is a two-time winner at the track with wins in 1987 and 1985 and holds the track’s all-time speed record.

“It just kind of happened by happenstance,” Elliott said to the media following the race of his win and his family’s ties to the track. “It was what it was and the day worked out like it did, for sure. You know, dad’s history — very cool.”

Elliott lauded the fans in attendance for the event for their boisterous reception.

“I was blown away by the people and how fired up everybody was,” he explained. “That was an unbelievable experience. We are close to home, so that’s cool, and they made me feel that way. I couldn’t ask for much more there.”

NASCAR driver Chase Elliott speaks to the media after his GEICO 500 win, 4/28/2019 (Jeff Poor/YHN)

“The post-race was unbelievable,” he added. “I’ve never had a crowd — it just felt like in the palm of your hands. I mean, it’s how it felt. You get excited, they get excited. You block, and they don’t say anything. You pump your arms up, and they get pumped up. That’s just something that I’ve never really experienced. That’s one of the coolest moments, I feel like, of my racing career. Hey, you don’t know if that will always be that way. People may not like you in a couple of years or whatever. Today was something I’ll never forget. I just appreciate all the folks making it feel like a home race.”

Elliott leaves Talladega eligible for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. His win puts him seventh overall in driver points. Kyle Busch holds on to the series’ points lead.

@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.

3 months ago

Alabama Gang’s Red Farmer makes pitch to be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame

(Screenshot/FS1)

Sunday during Fox Sports 1’s pre-race coverage of Talladega Superspeedway’s GEICO 500, long-time race car driver and Hueytown native Red Farmer reflected on seven decades of competing in motorsports.

Farmer is an original member of the Alabama Gang, among which also include fellow Hueytown natives Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and Neil Bonnett, Huntsville’s Jimmy Means, Calera’s Hut Strickland and Gadsden’s Steve Grissom.

Farmer, who still competes at the Talladega Short Track, a dirt track across the street from the Talladega Superspeedway, joked that some have been trying to retire him since his last ARCA win at Talladega in 1988.

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“I’m going on 87 years old right now,” Farmer said. “I’ve been racing for 72 years. [They’ve been] retiring me for probably 30 years, so I know the last time I won the ARCA 500 across the street over there at Talladega Superspeedway, and I was 56 years old. They said that was your last race probably, and that was, you know, that was 30 years ago. I still enjoy working on my cars, and I still enjoy driving them.”

“I’ve won 752 races,” Farmer explained. “I don’t have to win anymore. If I come here and have a good time at the race track, and have a good finish – I run ninth or tenth or something like that and I have a good race, I enjoy it. I don’t have to win anymore.”

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

Farmer insists there are only three actual members of the Alabama Gang, Bobby and Donnie Allison and himself.

“People don’t understand – everybody that’s a good driver in Alabama, they’re supposed to add them to the Alabama Gang,” he said. “There’s not – there’s only Bobby, Donnie and me. We always traveled together, two pickup trucks and I pulled a station wagon. We come in like a convoy. The three of us were bumper-to-bumper, and somebody said, ‘Here comes that damn Alabama Gang again.’ And a reporter heard it, and that’s kind of how it got started.”

Farmer made a pitch during his FS1 appearance to be inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

“I would like to get in the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” Farmer added. “I think that would be icing on the cake. I’m in nine hall of fames right now, and I’d like to make it 10. It would be nice to get it while I’m on the green side of the grass.”

@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.

3 months ago

Bassmaster Classic expected to lure economic boost to Birmingham region

(Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.)

The Bassmaster Classic will return to Alabama next year, marking its milestone 50th annual tournament and bringing with it an economic splash that will ripple from Guntersville to Birmingham.

Officials announced Monday the tournament hailed as the “Super Bowl of bass fishing” will be at Lake Guntersville with daily weigh-ins and the associated Classic Outdoors Expo at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex May 6-8, 2020.

The tournament is a sort of homecoming. Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) was founded in Montgomery in 1968. It is now headquartered in Birmingham.

“It’s fitting that the golden anniversary classic be held in Alabama, where B.A.S.S. was founded more than 50 years ago,” B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin said. “Our plans are to make this the most spectacular celebration of bass fishing in history.”

The Bassmaster Classic will be the third held on Lake Guntersville, the 13th in Alabama and the ninth at the BJCC.

Coming off a record-setting classic in Knoxville this year that had more than 153,000 in attendance and an economic impact of more than $32 million, officials are hopeful that the 50th will be the event’s best.

“As a competitor – and I know everybody in this room are real competitors – I think we need to shatter both records next year,” Akin said. “Between Birmingham and Guntersville and the state of Alabama, I’m pretty confident we can. With the record we’ve got against Tennessee in all facets of things, I think we will.”

That’s the kind of talk that David Galbaugh likes to hear.

“The $32 million in the Knoxville area, that’s tremendous and we certainly hope to reach that number or surpass it,” said Galbaugh, vice president of sports sales and marketing with the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau (GBCVB). “Our community will work tirelessly to make this the best classic ever.”

The event will showcase Lake Guntersville and the surrounding area.

“The Bassmaster Classic is the Super Bowl of bass fishing and we are excited that Lake Guntersville was chosen as the fishing venue for such a prestigious event,” said Guntersville Mayor Leigh Dollar. “We are so proud of our beautiful lake city and can hardly wait for all of you to come visit next March and experience Southern hospitality at its best.”

As the home of the weigh-ins and expo, Birmingham stands to see a big benefit as well.

“We are so proud to once again host the Bassmaster Classic, the Super Bowl of bass fishing,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “We look forward to the great competition the classic attracts and the dedicated fans who will gather in Birmingham for this incredible event. While in the region, we invite everyone to experience the inspirational history, legendary food and world-class entertainment, which make us the Magic City.”

The classic will be covered live and streamed on Bassmaster.com, ESPN3 and the ESPN app, and five hours of original programming will be aired on ESPN2 and the Pursuit Channel following the event. In addition, the classic annually draws more than 250 credentialed media. The 2019 classic was covered by journalists from 28 states as well as Japan, China, Australia, Italy, Germany and Canada.

The entire state will benefit from the exposure, said Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell.

“Having the classic back in Alabama is huge because it is going to give our state – and Guntersville in particular – a tremendous amount of advertising and media coverage,” he said.

There will be 53 anglers competing for a total purse of $1 million, with $300,000 going to the winner.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

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