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.

Lakeshore Foundation weighs in on postponed Olympics, Paralympics

(Lexi Branta Coon/Contributed)

Joe Delagrave grew up in Wisconsin but was raised on a staple of a Southern breakfast – grits.

“My mom used to make those growing up, so I have no problems with grits,” said Delagrave, the captain of the U.S. Paralympic wheelchair rugby team. “She had a Southern heart. She always made some good home cooking.”

For 12 years, Delagrave and his fellow wheelchair rugby players have feasted on the home cooking at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Facility at Lakeshore Foundation in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Lakeshore is home for this U.S. squad as it prepares to contend for Paralympic gold.

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But that team and athletes in other Olympic and Paralympic sports learned this week they’ll have to put the brakes on their chance to represent their country with the announcement that the 2020 Summer Olympic Games have been postponed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lakeshore Foundation CEO Jeff Underwood said the likelihood of that decision seemed more and more likely as the Tokyo Games drew closer to their scheduled July 24 to Aug. 9 competition window.

The Paralympics were to have been Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.

“It just underscores the seriousness of the situation and the fact that it’s having impacts on every aspect of our lives,” Underwood said. “On the other hand, it was not a cancellation; it was a postponement. That’s an important distinction. The games will go on, just not on their predicted schedule.”

A few days before the announcement to postpone the games, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee surveyed American athletes on the matter. They overwhelmingly suggested postponement and USOPC formally supported that move.

While Lakeshore staffers were disappointed by the needed delay, Underwood said the true pain is felt by athletes who put their lives on hold the past four years in pursuit of a dream.

“They put their families, their jobs, their careers on hold with the idea that as of this summer they would have maybe moved on to other things,” he said. “Now they’ve got to decide whether they want to keep their lives on hold for another year.”

The delay will benefit some who weren’t quite ready for 2020. Some had circled 2020 as the end of their career, one last shot. “Who knows,” the Lakeshore leader asked, “whether they’ll be able, willing to participate again?”

Underwood particularly feels for the wheelchair rugby team that lost in double overtime to Australia in the 2016 gold medal game in Rio de Janeiro.

“My sense is they were at the top of their game,” the Lakeshore CEO said. “They had just come back from the tournament in London a couple of months ago, where they won handily over some of their top opponents.

“We watch these guys train so hard,” he continued. “They’re hungry. And they’ve been working darn hard and everything seemed to be falling in place for that team, leading up to the games this summer.”

Delagrave had even more motivation. He was an alternate in 2016 and didn’t get to compete. The captain of the current squad compared his anticipation to being a child waiting all year for Christmas.

“We were almost at that Thanksgiving point where ‘Man, it’s here. It’s coming quick,’” he said. “Now it’s postponed.”

It’ll be a while before athletes have a definitive new target for the games. Delagrave said they’re caught in limbo amid rumors the Olympics and Paralympics may be in the spring or perhaps on the same dates in 2021.

“Once we find that out, I think it’ll add some more clarity,” he said. “We’ll get our schedule down from the administrators and from our head coach and we can start to circle some dates and then get really re-excited and re-energized about everything.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

Mel Kiper assesses Alabama, Auburn players in his mock NFL Draft

(Kent Gidley/University of Alabama Athletics)

Mel Kiper Jr. called Tua Tagovailoa the most intriguing player in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Kiper, the NFL Draft analyst from ESPN, released his NFL Mock Draft 3.0 on Tuesday and fielded questions from media during a teleconference today. Easily, the player about whom the most questions swirl is the Heisman Trophy runner-up whose season was cut short by a dislocated hip, his third lower-body injury of his career in Tuscaloosa.

That history of injury – which includes procedures on each ankle – has some scratching their heads about making a trade to move up in the draft to get him. Tagovailoa’s injury kept him from participating on the field at the NFL Combine although he met with team executives.

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The draft analyst has the Alabama QB pegged to be taken fifth by the Miami Dolphins. He acknowledged in releasing his mock draft that he did not factor in trades because that is wildly speculative.

Tuesday, the Tide signal-caller released a 10-second video that showed him going through a fast-paced, drop-back passing drill. And while Kiper acknowledged that Tagovailoa looked good, questions would persist.

“Tua would be the most intriguing because of … the limited ability to see and the limited knowledge with the medical and what’s going on in the world right now and in our country,” Kiper said. “If everything would have been perfect and everything was done the way it’s always been done, you still have the durability concerns.

“Even if he’s medically cleared and everything looks OK with the hip and progress has been made and all that, you still have three separate injuries that all occurred,” he continued. “Can he take hits? Can he sustain hits, come back and then be healthy from those hits? Durability for Tua would still be a question regardless if this was a perfect draft scenario or draft process scenario.”

While not factoring trades into his mock draft, Kiper acknowledged that “it would be a great opportunity” for Detroit to move down from No. 3 to No. 5.

“If you’re Detroit, it would be a great opportunity to go from three to five and still get Jeff Okudah, the cornerback from Ohio State or Isaiah Simmons, the linebacker from Clemson,” he said. “You don’t lose anything if you’re the Lions.”

He mentioned Miami and the Los Angeles Chargers among teams that might consider moving to get Tagovailoa.

Kiper was asked who among the potential draft selections is the most NFL ready. After Simmons, he cited Auburn’s Derrick Brown, who could have bolted for the pros in 2019.

Brown “got another year of experience and did a great job at Auburn,” Kiper said. “I think with Derrick Brown you know what you’re getting out of the defensive tackle.”

Another NFL-ready player, he said, is Alabama right tackle Jedrick Wills Jr.

“He’s a solid player, he’s technically sound (and) he was consistent,” Kiper said. “He didn’t have any hiccups at right tackle this year. He’s the kind of guy who’s a plug-and-play right tackle.”

Kiper repeated that the deepest position in this draft is wide receiver. He compared this draft to other years in which three wideouts distanced themselves from the rest. Among those, he has Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy set to go 13th to the San Francisco 49ers and Henry Ruggs III 15th to the Denver Broncos.

“I think Henry Ruggs III is right there for some teams as the top receiver,” he said, noting that the New York Jets might make a move for him. “Michael Irvin and all those different receivers in (that) draft, they were very hard to separate and that’s the thing with Jeudy, (Oklahoma’s CeeDee) Lamb and Ruggs. I would still go Jeudy, Lamb, Ruggs, (Clemson’s Tee) Higgins, in that order.”

Speaking of Oklahoma, Kiper was asked if former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts could follow in the successful footsteps of 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.

“In terms of where he is right now, I think he’s a late second, early to mid-third (round selection),” Kiper said, calling claims that Hurts would drop into the sixth round “way, way low.”

“He threw the ball well at the combine,” the analyst said. “He had a heck of a year at two different big-time programs. He won a ton of games, he rushed for a lot of yards, he scored a ton of touchdowns.”

Hurts’ value is enhanced, Kiper said, because of the many things he can do. Even a team with a great starter in hand can put packages in place for Hurts, Kiper said.

“That’s going to help him to be a late second, early third round pick.”

Kiper said Auburn defensive end Marlon Davidson is close to being a first-rounder in his mock draft. He’s got him pegged in the late first round or early to mid-second round.

“You’ve got versatility and you talk about production in Senior Bowl week. All that adds up,” he said. “There’s really not much else there (below him at that position), so if you need one, you better take him early — late first, early second.”

Kiper has Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene penciled in at No. 31, going to the San Francisco 49ers. He said he likes his versatility.

“He’s helped out on special teams and the return game,” the analyst said. “He keeps getting better and better. His tackling improved and his instincts in coverage made progress this year.

“He still has some work to do in terms of his coverage technique, but he’s got awesome talent,” Kiper continued. “He’s just touched the surface of what kind of player he can be at corner.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 week ago

Birmingham World Games 2021 assessing ramifications of 2020 Olympics COVID-19 decision

(IOC/Contributed)

The International Olympic Committee’s decision today to postpone the 2020 Olympic Games that were to take place in Tokyo this summer could have ramifications for the 2021 World Games slated for Birmingham next summer.

Based on guidance from the World Health Organization, the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee made the decision to push the Olympics to sometime next year before fall.

“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC president and the prime minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community,” organizers said in a statement.

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In Birmingham, it’s not yet clear what the decision means for the 2021 World Games, which is recognized by the IOC and intentionally held in an off year from the Olympic Games.

“With the announcement of the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games, there has been considerable speculation regarding its impact on The World Games 2021 Birmingham,” said Nick Sellers, CEO of the 2021 World Games Birmingham. “We have been keeping a close eye on the situation and have remained in constant contact with the International World Games Association.”

Sellers said for now preparations will continue to ensure Birmingham is ready to be an impressive host.

“At this time, it would be premature to speculate about potential changes to our event until we receive more information from the IOC on its specific plans,” he said. “However, we remain steadfast in our commitment to delivering a world-class experience in Birmingham and are confident in a positive outcome for our athletes, fans and community.”

The Olympics organizers are also committed to holding a successful event, even if the date is unknown.

“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present,” the IOC statement said. “Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 week ago

Nick Saban: Social distancing ‘important’ — ‘Stay at home if at all possible’

(Alabama Football/Twitter)

University of Alabama Crimson Tide head football coach Nick Saban on Tuesday afternoon released a public service announcement regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In the almost 90-second video, Saban rallies the people of the Yellowhammer State while emphasizing everyone should follow the recommendations set forth by medical experts such as the Alabama Department of Public Health and the CDC.

“First of all, I hope this message finds you and your families safe and well,” Saban says to begin. “On behalf of our program, we want to give thanks to all the medical professionals and caregivers in our state and across the country in these challenging times.”

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After speaking about the coronavirus’ impact on the Bama football program, Saban advises, “As we have said to our team, we share the same message to all of you. Please understand the following guidelines of social distancing, it’s important.”

He outlines, “We ask that everyone please wash your hands often, stay at home if at all possible and when you have to be out in public, make sure you keep six feet between you and the nearest person.”

“We are in this together,” Saban adds. “And as one team, we will get through these difficult times. … Stay safe, and Roll Tide!”

Watch:

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

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

1 week ago

Auburn legend Cam Newton released by Carolina Panthers

(Carolina Panthers/Facebook, YHN)

Cam Newton, who won a BCS National Championship and a Heisman Trophy when quarterbacking Auburn University’s football team during the 2010 season, will be released by the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, according to several national media outlets.

NFL.com reported the move could be made official as soon as Tuesday. Newton was long expected to be released or traded.

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Newton entered the NFL Draft in spring of 2011 after his only season at Auburn. He was then selected by the Panthers with the first overall pick and became an instant sensation in his first professional season, winning multiple rookie of the year honors.

The star quarterback subsequently led the Panthers to three straight NFC South titles from 2013-2015, a Super Bowl appearance and four total postseason appearances.

Newton also earned the 2015 NFL MVP award and was named to three Pro Bowls during his time in Carolina.

However, injuries have taken a toll on the former Auburn player in recent seasons. Last season, he missed all but two games.

Now, teams are reportedly not confident in Newton’s ability to return to top form.

NFL.com reported, “The lingering health questions left no team willing to part ways with draft assets to acquire a quarterback on the last year of his contract and one who would likely have wanted an extension.”

UPDATE 3:45 p.m.

The Panthers officially announced Newton’s release on Tuesday afternoon.

“Cam has meant a lot to this organization and the Carolinas,” general manager Marty Hurney stated. “Everyone saw his performances on the field. I had the privilege of seeing how hard he worked off the field, and his commitment to this team when no one was watching. He’s the ultimate competitor and it physically hurts him to lose. He willed this team to victory on many occasions and will always be considered one of the greatest players in the history of this franchise. His contributions to this team, this community and the game of football will leave a lasting impact on our organization.”

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

2 weeks ago

Former Blazer Andy Kennedy named UAB men’s basketball coach

(Alabama News Center)

UAB on Friday named former Blazer star Andy Kennedy as its new men’s basketball coach.

“On behalf of my wife, Kimber, and our two daughters, I am blessed to be able to return to my alma mater, in a city that I love, to lead this storied basketball program,” Kennedy said in a letter posted on the UAB Athletics website. “I want to thank (UAB President) Dr. (Ray) Watts and Mark Ingram for believing in me and affording me this tremendous opportunity.”

Director of Athletics Ingram said the hiring of UAB’s seventh head basketball coach is pending approval of the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees. Kennedy has agreed to a six-year deal going through 2026.

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Andy Kennedy, left, has spent the past two years as a commentator for ESPN and the SEC Network. (SEC Network)
Kennedy is the winningest coach in University of Mississippi history and was twice named SEC Coach of the Year. The UAB alumnus won 245 games as the Rebels coach, leading them to the 2013 SEC Tournament championship and two berths in the NCAA tournament. Kennedy coached Cincinnati for one season, leading the Bearcats to a 21-13 record in 2005-06.

Kentucky Coach John Calipari tweeted soon after the announcement: “UAB hit a grand slam … Andy is a great friend, a good man and one of the best basketball coaches in the country, bar none.”

The past two years Kennedy was a commentator for ESPN and the SEC Network, but he is also the second-leading scorer in UAB history and a former assistant coach for the Blazers under Murry Bartow.

Kennedy was named first team All-Sun Belt Conference as a senior in 1990-91, as well as second team All-Sun Belt as a junior in 1989-90. In three seasons, he scored 1,787 points and holds the UAB record for career 3-point field goals made (318) and attempted (728), 3-point field goal percentage (.437), free throw percentage (.872) and highest single-season scoring average (21.8 in 1990-91).

Additionally, Kennedy holds UAB’s record for most points scored by a sophomore (603) and by a senior (676), most career 20-plus-point games (43), most career 30-plus-point games (7) and most points scored in a single game (41 vs. Saint Louis on Jan. 13, 1991).

“Andy is a proven winner both as a player and a coach, and we are elated to have him lead our men’s basketball program,” Ingram said. “He helped build UAB basketball’s proud tradition as one of the best to ever play here, and I am confident he will elevate the program to new heights as our coach. Andy will add to the growing momentum of our university and city as a whole.”

Kennedy replaces Robert Ehsan, who in four seasons coached the Blazers to an overall record of 76-57.

(Courtesy Alabama News Center)

2 weeks ago

NASCAR hopes to run full schedule, including Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

(Dennis Washington/Alabama NewsCenter)

NASCAR hopes to reschedule all races postponed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, even if that means midweek races and doubleheader weekends.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps addressed questions about safety precautions and scheduling during a teleconference with the sport’s media Tuesday. NASCAR announced Monday that races through at least May 3 will have to be rescheduled, including the GEICO 500 race weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, which was scheduled for April 24-26.

“The health and safety of our fans, industry and the communities in which we race is our most important priority,” Phelps said. “We appreciate the patience of our fans and we look forward to returning to the racetrack.”

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Phelps said the plan is to ultimately complete the schedule, even if that means scheduling midweek races, doubleheader weekends and racing during the 2020 Summer Olympics.

“We would like to finish the season at Phoenix and keep the Playoffs portion [of the schedule] intact,” Phelps said. “With that said, it will require a lot of different opportunities for us to look at. We’re in the process of doing that.”

To fill the downtime, several NASCAR drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mobile-native Bubba Wallace, along with crew members and enthusiasts, competed Sunday afternoon in an eSports virtual race. Tens of thousands of viewers tuned in, creating enough interest to encourage NASCAR and iRacing to form the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, an exhibition eSports series featuring many of the sport’s most talented and popular drivers. The simulation-style showcase will include a cross-section of competitors from the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and a group of NASCAR dignitaries.

“Until we have cars back on track, the entire NASCAR community has aligned to provide our passionate fans with a unique, fun and competitive experience on race day,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s vice president of racing development. “Our longtime partners at iRacing offer an incredible product, and we are excited to see how many of our best drivers will stack up in the virtual domain of competitive racing.”

The multiweek series will kick off Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CT on the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway. Drivers expected to participate include Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell. The viewing platforms have not yet been announced, although Phelps said NASCAR is discussing options with its broadcast partners.

“There are discussions we’re having with FOX about what things we can do, discussions with NBC, things that we can put through our own channels that satisfy fans,” Phelps said. “Our fans are obviously thirsty for this content. We want to provide it to them smartly and have interesting content as opposed to just repurposing some of the content that’s already been done. We want to make sure we’re servicing the fans as best we can.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 weeks ago

Malzahn inducted into Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame

(AU/Facebook)

One of the most successful coaches in the history of Auburn athletics received his due from his home state last week.

Head football coach Gus Malzahn was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in Little Rock on Friday.

“Growing up in the state of Arkansas, and now being able to be a part of the sports hall of fame in your home state is pretty surreal,” Malzahn said in a release from the Auburn athletic department.

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Set to enter his eighth season as Auburn’s head man, Malzahn sits among the elite in his profession.

He has led the Tigers to an SEC championship, two division titles and a national championship game with a No. 2 final ranking. He has led Auburn to seven consecutive bowl games. Five of those bowl games have been of the New Year’s Day variety.

Malzahn is also the only current SEC coach to have beaten Nick Saban three times.

His hall of fame resume has been built while playing what could be regarded as the most difficult schedule of any program in the country during his seven seasons on the Plains.

His teams have faced 35 ranked opponents. He has looked across the field and seen a top 10 team 24 times. Six times he has seen the No. 1 team in the country on the other sideline. Eleven times he has seen a top 3 team. In 2016, the Tigers were the only team to face the No. 1 and No. 2 teams. In 2017, Auburn matched up against three of the four college football playoff teams, a total of four times, while earning two wins.

In all, he has had seven wins against top 10 teams.

One of the earliest innovators of the up-tempo, spread offense now prevalent across college football, Malzahn has had an enduring impact on the Auburn program as both head coach and as an offensive coordinator under Gene Chizik.

“I’ve been so blessed to be at Auburn,” he said. “This will be my 11th year at Auburn. It’s a real honor and a really special thing for me and Kristi to be a part of the Auburn family, doing what we’re doing.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 weeks ago

Jalen Hurts: ‘Always put my trust in God, Why would I stop now?’

(College GameDay/Twitter)

A recent tweet by former University of Alabama Crimson Tide star quarterback Jalen Hurts underlined his longtime outspokenness in proclaiming his Christian faith and sharing his testimony.

As the nation deals with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and Hurts continues preparations for April’s NFL Draft (which will no longer be held as a public event in Las Vegas), the 2019 Heisman Trophy runner-up tweeted, “Always put my trust in God, Why would I stop now[?]”

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Hurts was set to hold a youth football camp at the Hoover Met this coming Sunday, however that camp will not proceed as scheduled due to the coronavirus.

He recently participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, making a triumphant return to the state of Alabama after playing last season for the University of Oklahoma Sooners.

RELATED: Watch: Jalen Hurts gives back to community, feels the love in return to Alabama

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

Talladega Superspeedway receives NASCAR’s 2019 Track Marketing & Communications Award

(Talladega Superspeedway/Contributed)

Talladega Superspeedway was recently honored by NASCAR with the 2019 Track Marketing & Communications Award for the promotional efforts conducted throughout the 2019 season of the $50-million Transformation Infield Project presented by Graybar, along with the celebration of the historic track’s 50th anniversary.

The recipients of the track and NASCAR team awards, which were voted on by a panel of judges consisting of experts from outside the NASCAR industry, were announced during the NASCAR Marketing & Communications Webinar in Charlotte, North Carolina, recently. The track received recognition for its multifaceted marketing and communications programs, campaigns and initiatives that supported the entire Transformation project, which was split into two phases. From the initial announcement in July 2018 to the groundbreaking of the project (October 2018) until the project completion (October 2019), track officials communicated detailed information through various platforms to keep the fans, media and NASCAR family informed every step of the way.

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Talladega Superspeedway transforms infield fan experience from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The majority of the track’s 2019 advertising campaigns were positioned on the centerpiece of the project, the one-of-a-kind Talladega Garage Experience, as well as the first 50 Years of Speed in Alabama. Advertising was conveyed through a host of means, including direct mail, social/digital, TV, radio, email and digital billboards, in addition to having a presence at more than 50 grassroots promotional events.

On the public relations front, the track hosted 20 media events and press conferences incorporating current NASCAR drivers and legends, as well as released biweekly to weekly updates via social media and press releases to provide the most up-to-date construction progress information.

Talladega Superspeedway opens tunnel, prepares for next phase of Transformation from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The yearlong redevelopment endeavor introduced a new Turn 3 Oversized Vehicle Tunnel with 24-hour enter/exit access and reserved infield RV spots with full hookups – Finish Line Premium RV – last spring. The completion of Phase II came in the fall and included the private, reserved Alabama Gang Superstretch RV area (with power and water hookups) and the Talladega Garage Experience, which features an array of family/fan-friendly engagement and social areas with up-close viewing areas in the NASCAR Cup Series garage bays, the massive BIG BILL’S Social Club, Gatorade Victory Lane access, the 600-person Pit Road Club that provides fans a bird’s-eye view of Pit Road and more.

The Talladega Garage Experience was designed with the fans in mind to create an experience like no other by providing unprecedented access to the sport. It’s an extension of Talladega Superspeedway creator and NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.’s vision when he built the track in 1968-69. The same excitement and energy that was around then was brought back to life in 2019.

Bill Ward recalls his role in bringing the nation’s fastest track to Talladega from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The stage is set for another year at the venue, with three spring races – the GEICO 500 for the NASCAR Cup Series, the MoneyLion 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the traditional General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series, along with the spring debut of the Talladega Garage Experience. For additional ticket information, call 855-518-RACE (7223) or log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.(

Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 weeks ago

University of Alabama, Auburn both suspend spring football practices

(Auburn Football, Alabama Football/Contributed, YHN)

The University of Alabama Athletics Department on Friday announced that the Crimson Tide’s spring football practice has been suspended “until further notice.”

The program’s spring practice was scheduled to begin on Friday. More information was not immediately released from UA.

Additionally, Auburn University on Thursday announced the postponement of its football spring practice, which was originally set to begin on Monday, March 16.

Auburn Football “will continue to assess the situation moving forward,” according to a release.

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“The well-being of our student-athletes, staff, fans and the Auburn community will always be our highest priority,” Auburn Director of Athletics Allen Greene stated. “Given the global gravity of COVID-19, we appreciate the complexities of these difficult decisions. Our hearts go out to our student-athletes and coaches who have worked tirelessly to represent Auburn with class and excellence in their quest for championships. We thank the Auburn family for their understanding and patience as we navigate this unprecedented and fluid situation.”

It should further be noted that the SEC has already announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville and the suspension of regular season competition for teams in all sports on SEC campuses, as well as SEC championships events, through March 30.

NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors also announced the cancelation of the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships.

The University of Alabama System and Auburn University have begun transitioning to online classes until at least early April, as have most higher education institutions in the state.

RELATED: What Alabamians need to know about preventing coronavirus spread — Wash hands, don’t panic and more

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

3 weeks ago

SEC Basketball Tournament canceled due to coronavirus

SEC Media Days will be four days again this year.

The Southeastern Conference announced Thursday that the remainder of the Men’s Basketball Tournament that had been ongoing in Nashville will be canceled due to fears about the spread of the coronavirus.

“Based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Southeastern Conference today announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville,” said the conference in a tweet.

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Auburn University’s men’s basketball team had already secured a spot in the quarterfinals, while the Alabama Crimson Tide were awaiting their second-round game against the University of Tennessee when the event was canceled.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in an announcement that canceling the tournament “was not an easy decision,” but he stressed the importance of the players’ “health and well-being.”

“We understand that this decision will be disappointing to our student-athletes and coaches who have been preparing all season to compete in this event as well as viewers at home,” Sankey stated. “While this was not an easy decision, the health and well-being of our entire SEC community is of paramount importance.”

Yellowhammer News’ complete, continuing coverage of the coronavirus and its impact on Alabama can be found here.

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

3 weeks ago

Barkley calls for NCAA March Madness to be postponed over coronavirus concerns

(ESPN/YouTube)

NBA legend and native Alabamian Charles Barkley has called for the postponement of the NCAA’s annual college basketball tournament due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus.

“Turner Sports and CBS got to close down March Madness,” said Barkley, who works in conjunction with CBS’s coverage of the tournaments, in a television interview with the ESPN’s “Get Up.”

“Even if there are no fans in the stadium, you can’t have these players breathing on each other for two weeks,” he added.

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Barkley’s comments come in the wake of a rash of cancellations across the United States due to fears of spreading the coronavirus.

The NBA on Wednesday night suspended the remainder of its season after Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the disease the Thursday morning.

Multiple conferences and large gatherings have been canceled in Alabama due to fears of the disease, and government agencies are recommending people restrict out of state travel.

RELATED: Ivey issues coronavirus protocols for government agencies

“I think we’re going to have to shut down March Madness until we know more,” Barkley concluded.

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

3 weeks ago

Alabama football legend E.J. Junior selected for induction to College Football Hall of Fame

(Alabama Football/Facebook)

Former Alabama Crimson Tide football star E.J. Junior has been selected for induction to the College Football Hall of Fame, according to an announcement Wednesday from the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Football Hall of Fame on ESPN.

Junior, who is the 19th Crimson Tide player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, was a part of the University of Alabama’s football team in the late 1970s.

The University of Alabama noted in a press release:

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A unanimous First Team All-American in 1980, Junior was a finalist for the Lombardi Award and helped guide Alabama to consecutive national championships in 1978 and 1979. Junior and the 1979 Crimson Tide squad went 12-0, winning the program’s third straight Sugar Bowl and completing a run of eight SEC Championships in nine years. He was part of only four losses during his Alabama career, helping the Tide post an astounding 44-4 record, which included a 28-game winning streak, while never finishing lower than No. 6 in the national rankings.

The three-time First Team All-SEC selection capped his career in a dominant 30-2 win over Baylor in the 1981 Cotton Bowl. Selected as the 1980 SEC Lineman of the Year by both the Atlanta Touchdown Club and the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club, Junior was the leader of a defense that allowed only 98 points during his senior campaign and just 67 in 1979. He racked up 190 tackles and 21 sacks for the Crimson Tide while playing alongside Hall of Famers Marty Lyons and Ozzie Newsome, and his 10 career forced fumbles are tied for the school record. Junior is enshrined in the Senior Bowl, State of Alabama Sports and State of Tennessee halls of fame.

Junior was the fifth overall pick in the 1981 NFL draft and a two-time Pro Bowl selection while playing with the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals from 1981 until 1988. He went on to play for the Miami Dolphins from 1989 until 1991, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1992 and the Seattle Seahawks from 1992 until 1993.

After retiring from the NFL, Junior became an ordained minister and entered into coaching. Junior coached linebackers for the Seahawks and had stints with the Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars and Rhein Fire of NFL Europe. Junior also served as the head coach at Central State (Ohio) from 2009 until 2013. He later served as assistant and interim head coach at Delaware State.

Junior will join other Crimson Tide players in the College Football Hall of Fame including Cornelius Bennett (1983-1986), Johnny Mack Brown (1923-1925), John Cain (1930-1932), Harry Gilmer (1944-1947), John Hannah (1970-72), Dixie Howell (1932-1934), Pooley Hubert (1922-1925), Don Hutson (1932-1934), Lee Roy Jordan (1960-1962), Woodrow Lowe (1972-1975), Marty Lyons (1975-1978), Vaughn Mancha (1944-1947), Johnny Musso (1969-1971), Billy Neighbors (1959-1961), Ozzie Newsome (1974-1977), Fred Sington (1928-1930), Riley Smith (1933-1935) and Derrick Thomas (1985-1988).

The 2020 College Football Hall of Fame class will be officially inducted during the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 8, 2020, at the New York Hilton Midtown. Inductees will also be recognized in the fall at their respective collegiate institutions with NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, presented by Fidelity Investments.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

4 weeks ago

Birmingham World Games 2021 starts 500-day countdown, adds two corporate sponsors

(Michael Tomberlin/Alabama NewsCenter)

Birmingham will host the 2021 World Games in 500 days and a local firm will produce the all-important opening and closing ceremonies.

Birmingham World Games officials launched the 500-day countdown today with an event at the Birmingham CrossPlex, one of the 20 venues in the greater Birmingham area that will host competitions.

In addition to being a competition venue, Legion Field will host the opening and closing ceremonies for the games. The World Games announced today that LRY Media Group has been awarded the contract to manage those ceremonies. It is the first major contract awarded through the World of Opportunity supplier diversity program.

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World Games marks 500 Day mark, adds new corporate sponsors from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“The Opening Ceremony, Closing Ceremony and the World Games Plaza will be our opportunity to establish the entire mood, tone and energy of this amazing experience,” said Rashada LeRoy, president and CEO of LRY. “For me, there is no higher honor than being selected to be the author of those key attributes for the World Games 2021.”

The World Games 2021 Birmingham will take place July 15-25, 2021 and will generate an estimated $256 million in economic impact for the city.

RELATED: Birmingham ramping up preparation for 2021 World Games

Also announced today were two new corporate sponsors.

Atlanta-based ICON Health is a foundation partner and the presenting sponsor of the World Games 2021 Sports Garden, which will feature sports exhibitions, athlete interactions and hands-on educational activities. ICON Health will also develop a Healthy Eating, Active Living (H.E.A.L.) Campaign for the state of Alabama, in conjunction with the World Games 2021 activities. The H.E.A.L. campaign kicks off Monday, May 25, 2020 during the First Annual Alabama 5K Run, Rock and Roll, which combines a 5K walk and run with a music festival to take place in Five Points South.

“ICON Health is thrilled to be a part of the World Games 2021 activities,” said Frank Lawrence III, founder of ICON Health. “As a native of Birmingham, Alabama, I’ve searched for ways to give back to the city of Birmingham in hopes of making an impact on future generations. Alabama is fertile ground for new ventures in health, education, technology and entertainment, and the world is taking note of this. The World Games 2021 represents such an opportunity and it is our pleasure to work alongside the city of Birmingham and the Birmingham Organizing Committee to make this event memorable for years to come.”

Birmingham-based Medical Properties Trust is a premiere partner and presenting sponsor of the Children’s Program of the World Games 2021, focusing on the youth experience, including World Games Plaza’s Kids’ Zone as well as children’s programming throughout the 10-day event. The company will provide free admission to the World Games 2021 for children 12 and under with a ticketed adult and will facilitate daily athlete appearances at Children’s of Alabama.

“We are delighted to be the presenting sponsor of the Children’s Program of the World Games 2021,” Edward K. Aldag Jr., president and CEO of Medical Properties Trust, said in a statement. “Birmingham will be hosting athletes and spectators from around the globe for this unique, multisport event and MPT is excited to support this major opportunity for our city. We are particularly pleased to help the children in our community to experience and fully enjoy the World Games through the various aspects of our sponsorship.”

ICON Health and Medical Properties Trust join corporate sponsors Alabama PowerProtective LifeRegions BankBlue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and Shipt.

“Each one of our partners plays a vital role in helping us achieve the goals we’ve set for the World Games 2021,” said Nick Sellers, CEO of the World Games 2021 Birmingham. “By partnering together, we are ensuring that this once-in-a-lifetime event will be truly unforgettable for our city. The investment these companies have made in both the 2021 Games and the Birmingham community will resonate long after the Closing Ceremony – we look forward to working together to achieve the best athlete, fan and visitor experience possible over the next 500 days.”

Children from Glen Iris Elementary School and Epic Alternative Elementary School helped mark the 500-day countdown by participating in some of the games that will be part of the 2021 World Games.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin recruited Glen Iris student Zaniyah Jefferson to read his remarks at the event.

“The World Games 2021 will truly be a milestone for the city of Birmingham,” Woodfin said in a statement. “From the unprecedented economic impact, to the community programs for all of our residents, to the world-class sports – this event will be unforgettable. I am particularly pleased with the momentum being built through the World of Opportunity supplier diversity program. As a city, we look forward to seeing the results of our hard work over the next 500 days.”

The event included the unveiling of a highway sign that will be placed on the state-line signs on all the interstates leading into Alabama, declaring it “Home of the World Games 2021.”

Birmingham anticipates more than 3,600 athletes and 1,500 credentialed media from more than 100 countries. An additional 15,000 to 20,000 international guests and up to 500,000 fans and spectators from Alabama and surrounding states could attend. NBC Sports will broadcast live from Birmingham during the 10 days.

Comedian and filmmaker Roy Wood Jr. recently told Alabama NewsCenter he looks at the World Games as an opportunity for Birmingham to shine.

“I think the next big mile marker for Birmingham in my opinion is the World Games,” he said. “That’s going to be a very important show of just how great of a city this is.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 weeks ago

Auburn’s Bruce Pearl named semifinalist for national coach of the year award

(Auburn Basketball/Twitter)

Auburn University head men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl on Friday was announced as a semifinalist for the Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year.

The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the award annually and made the announcement.

This marks the second time in the last three seasons that Pearl has been named a semifinalist for the prestigious national coach of the year award.

He is one of 10 coaches left in contention for the honor and is joined by John Calipari of Kentucky as the only coaches represented from the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

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The other semifinalists are Patrick Chambers (Penn State), Scott Drew (Baylor), Brian Dutcher (San Diego State), Mark Few (Gonzaga), Anthony Grant (Dayton), Leonard Hamilton (Florida State), Greg McDermott (Creighton) and Mark Pope (BYU).

After losing his top three scorers and five of the top eight from the historic Auburn team that went to the Final Four last season, Pearl has Auburn near the top of the SEC once again. The Tigers at this point are two games ahead of where they finished a season ago and have already achieved their third consecutive 20-win season, something that has only happened once previously in program history: 1983-86.

Further, Auburn’s 2020 senior class has become the winningest class in program history with 98 wins in their time on “The Plains.”

The Naismith Awards master voting academy will soon narrow the award contenders down to four finalists, to be announced on March 18.

From there, fans will be able to support their favorite coach by voting online between March 20-April 1; this fan vote will account for five percent of the overall final vote.

The ultimate award winner will be announced on April 5.

RELATED: Pearl praises religious freedom in Alabama — ‘I can live here in Auburn and practice my faith’

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

4 weeks ago

Saban hires two assistants to fill out strength and conditioning staff

(UA/Contributed)

The University of Alabama’s athletics department announced Tuesday that David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea will be joining the ranks of assistant coaches to head football coach Nick Saban.

Ballou will serve as the director of sports performance and Rhea will be the director of performance science. Both men’s roles will deal directly with the strength and conditioning of Alabama’s players.

“Just as with any other area, we feel that it is imperative that we adopt and integrate advancements in the field of strength and conditioning that will provide elite training, while better protecting our players from injuries and helping them develop and perform at a higher level,” Saban said in a statement.

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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, a former defensive coordinator for the Tide, poached longtime Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran earlier in the offseason. Cochran had been with Saban since the coach’s first season at Alabama in 2007 and was widely regarded as one of the best in the nation at his role. Cochran will be the Bulldogs’ special teams coordinator.

David Ballou joins the Crimson Tide from Indiana University, where he has spent the last two seasons as the director of athletic performance.

In a release from the UA Athletic Department, Ballou said that he “can’t wait to get to Tuscaloosa and begin working with some of the best athletes and football players in the nation.”

Before his new job in Tuscaloosa, Rhea was a full-time professor of kinesiology at A.T. Still University. He has a bachelor’s degree from Southern Utah and advanced degrees from Arizona State and American Public University.

Rhea, who has spent the last 22 years studying how to best develop athletes, said he is excited to be “teaming up with one of [the] best strength and conditioning coaches in the world, we can target those limiting factors during training.”

Alabama Associate AD and Director of Sports Medicine Jeff Allen stated Tuesday, “The addition of Coach Ballou and Dr. Rhea to our program will allow us to take full advantage of our sports science center. The data they will generate on our athletes, through their unique training methods, will allow us to know exactly how to manage our team to ensure we are performing at our best each Saturday and make sure we are doing all we can to prevent injuries.”

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

1 month ago

Female athletes deserve fair competition

(API/Contributed, Pixabay, YHN)

Silly me. I thought that with the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972, we had settled the question of whether girls deserve a chance to compete and win as high school and college athletes. Feminists fought like warriors to pass the act against gender discrimination, which among other things ensured that girls had equal access to sports.

Before the passage of the act, only 1 in 27 high school girls played varsity sports. Now that number is more like 1 in 2.5.

And why did we need separate, but fully funded and supported athletic teams for young women? Why didn’t the act simply require that all athletic teams at institutions receiving federal funding become co-ed teams?

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Because before our culture abandoned facts and reason in its full gallop toward progressivism, we all knew and acknowledged that men and women are biologically different. Men have higher levels of testosterone. They carry more muscle mass per pound of body weight. They have a naturally higher endurance threshold. On average, a male can run faster and jump higher than his female counterpart.

It’s just science.

There’s an approximate 10-12% performance gap between elite women athletes and elite men. In 2017, Olympic, World and U.S. Champion Tori Bowie clocked a lifetime best of 10.78 for 100 meters. In the same year, her time was beaten 15,000 times by men and boys.

Fifteen thousand times. And that’s at the elite level. Observation leads us to believe that gap grows wider when dealing with athletes at lower levels of competition, where natural baseline strength and speed—absent full time, professional training and nutrition—is more of a factor.

It is impossible to introduce biological males to women’s sports and preserve even the appearance of fair play. Once a biological male steps onto the track or the court, the whole thing becomes a joke. Strike a match to Title IX, for all the good it does female athletes at that point.

That’s why I hope the Alabama legislature passes the “Gender is Real Legislative Act,” known as the GIRL Act. It would prohibit athletes in K-12 competition in our state from competing in sports for a gender other than their biological gender unless the competition in question is co-ed.

I’ve written before about the fast-forward approach activists are taking to normalize transgenderism. The LGBTQ+ lobby is running ahead of health care research and good governance on how to address the growing prevalence of gender dysphoria in children and young adults.

I grieve for people of any age who suffer the psychological burden of feeling out of place in their own bodies. I can only imagine the pain of attempting to reconcile those feelings and overcome the anxiety and depression that struggle would likely induce. But we fail these individuals—particularly children—when we insist that the remedy to their problem is to fully indulge the psychological aberration with which they struggle.

We fail everyone else when we force them to give up their rights in service to this farce.

But back to the pending legislation in Alabama: whether or not one has a moral objection to gender fluidity or transgenderism, none of us can escape what destroying the gender definitions our sports culture is built upon will cost women athletes. Activists are asking them to sacrifice their right to fair competition on the altar of desired cultural change.

Are female athletes going to be allowed to dope? I don’t know any parents who want their daughter on the juice in 10th grade so she has a chance to win state, but doping is the only way she’ll have a fair shot with a biological male in the hunt.

Where are you, feminists? The girls are depending on you.

Dana Hall McCain, a widely published writer on faith, culture, and politics, is Resident Fellow of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and educational organization based in Birmingham; learn more at alabamapolicy.org

1 month ago

Alabama, Auburn football stars among those supporting veterans and wounded warriors

(Solomon Crenshaw Jr./Alabama NewsCenter)

The oft-told joke is that you have to pick a side when you arrive in this state. You’re either for Alabama, someone will say, or you’re for Auburn.

More than 200 people gathered as one team Feb. 21 at The Club in Birmingham. They weren’t divided by Roll Tide and War Eagle, although each battle cry could be heard. The second One Yard at a Time Gala was the latest effort of Lettermen of the USA, sports rivals who’ve united under a common banner to help veterans, including wounded warriors.

Darryl Fuhrman, a former Alabama linebacker and founder of the organization, called it a celebration of the accomplishments they’ve had and a chance to let supporters help them do more.

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“Since last year’s gala, we’ve given a motorized scooter for a World War II veteran and a down payment on a Chevrolet Avalon,” Fuhrman said. “Also, we did an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant renovation on a veteran’s home in Florence.”

That veteran is U.S. Army Airborne Private Jason Melhiser, who was permanently disabled with a broken back and leg, and torn knee during a mission in the first Gulf War.

Lettermen of the USA puts former Alabama, Auburn players on one team to score a win for veterans from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Lettermen of the USA grew out of the tornado outbreak that raked across Alabama on April 27, 2011. Former football players from Alabama and Auburn got together for a fundraising flag football game at Hoover’s Spain Park High School, raising $150,000 for the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund.

Former Auburn offensive guard Todd Boland said the effort “kind of evaporated for a couple of years” until Fuhrman had the vision to pick it up and continue to carry the torch.

“Since that time, Darryl and I have worked closely with Desmond (Holman, vice president and director of operations) and all the guys who are part of Lettermen of the USA to organize events like this,” Boland said.

The effort began with giving autographed footballs and memorabilia to veterans but has grown to being more impactful.

“It started as an Alabama vs. Auburn thing,” Fuhrman said, “and it’s turned into a whole slew of athletes in general, guys who are here to support the veterans and wounded warriors.”

Birmingham native and former Alabama linebacker Cornelius Bennett spoke at the 2019 gala and was back Friday.

“It’s a tremendous experience to be here serving,” Bennett said. “My father was a veteran, and having a chance to give back to the community, not only to veterans but also former football players. I’m always happy to come home and to serve.”

Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Gary Rose and UAB football coach Bill Clark were honored during Friday’s event. Clark said he got involved in the effort about four years ago, autographing footballs before his Blazers returned from a shutdown of their program.

“I was able to go to Huntsville and really hang out with veterans and give them some footballs,” he said. “You talk about heroes of mine, these guys who have served and fought for our country. I’m glad to help out in some small way.”

Clark applauded what LotUSA does for former college athletes. “It’s great this organization has a heart for these guys, especially those who have fallen on hard times,” he said.

Fuhrman said the first football given by LotUSA was autographed by former Auburn quarterback and Samford football coach Pat Sullivan, who died on Dec. 1, 2019. Patrick Sullivan Jr. was on hand to aid in the fundraising effort.

“We always knew that if we could prove that rival fan bases could work together, there was much more undiscovered country that we would be able to traverse,” Fuhrman said. “It’s because of that flag football game and what it started that we are here tonight.”

Friday’s event exceeded its $20,000 goal. On stage was a new motorized wheelchair and a motorized scooter; one was donated by a radio listener and the other a viewer of a Birmingham morning television show.

Saturday, Fuhrman and others traveled to Huntsville to give the wheelchair to Vietnam veteran Gary Hallman, a former tail-gunner with the 281st Assault Helicopter Company.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 month ago

Rocket City Trash Panda’s Toyota Field receives certificate of occupancy

(Rocket City Trash Pandas)

MADISON — On Thursday, Hoar Construction, the City of Madison and BallCorps, LLC announced that Toyota Field, the new home for the Rocket City Trash Pandas, was officially awarded its Certificate of Occupancy, marking the official end of construction of the ballpark and certifying that the facility conforms to local building code requirements.

Hoar Construction, the general contractor on the project, broke ground on the new stadium in November 2018, and have since completed the project on time and within budget according to a release issued by the Trash Pandas.

The Rocket City Trash Pandas, owned by BallCorps, LLC., will serve as the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.

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(Rocket City Trash Pandas)

Even though the Trash Pandas will not play their inaugural home game against the Mississippi Braves until April 15, the park will see action before then. The University of Alabama-Huntsville and the University of Montevallo will face off in a three-game series that begins on March 20 and ends with a double-header on March 21 in Gulf South Conference play.

Ralph Nelson, managing partner of BallCorps, LLC and CEO of the Rocket City Trash Pandas, applauded Birmingham-based Hoar Construction.

(Rocket City Trash Pandas)

“This is a landmark moment that was made possible through the remarkable commitment and creativity displayed by all of the design and construction professionals who turned our vision into reality,” Nelson said in a statement. “Hoar Construction has been a trusted partner throughout this journey, and we’re pleased to have reached a successful conclusion together. Our fans can now see for themselves that baseball is officially back in North Alabama.”

(Rocket City Trash Pandas)

“The day our team has been waiting for has finally arrived, and it’s extremely gratifying to see the transformation from a dirt field to a top-shelf ballpark in just 14 months,” said Michael Raymond, Assistant Project Manager at Hoar Construction. “BallCorps and the City of Madison have been fantastic to work with and provided the flexibility Hoar and its trade partners needed to successfully execute a very complex construction job. Without question, this is now one of the finest minor league ballparks in America.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

1 month ago

Crimson Tide to host 2020 Clinic of Champions

(Alabama/Facebook)

The University of Alabama’s football team announced Monday that it plans to host a 2020 Clinic of Champions this spring on the university’s campus.

The clinic, which will be hosted and led by Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and the Alabama coaching staff, is set to take place from April 2-4, 2020.

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According to an online press release, the clinic will feature NFL and College Football Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson, Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall, Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickle, Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Texans special teams coordinator Brad Seely, Panthers quarterback coach Jake Peetz and Dr. Kevin Elko.

The clinic is also slated to host a “Chalk Talk with the entire Alabama coaching staff along with a session with defensive line coach Freddie Roach.”

“The Clinic of Champions is open to coaches only,” the press release stated. “All coaches attending are asked to bring their coaches card or a letter from their school for verification.”

To sign up for the clinic, which will cost $60, click here.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.

1 month ago

Tua Tagovailoa to hold autograph signing in Huntsville this weekend

(WVTM/YouTube)

Former University of Alabama star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has announced an upcoming public appearance in the Yellowhammer State.

In a tweet, Tagovailoa stated that he will hold a public autograph signing on Saturday, February 22, at the Parkway Place Mall in Huntsville.

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Tagovailoa is currently recovering from the hip injury he suffered late last season. He has declared for April’s NFL Draft.

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

1 month ago

Two former Auburn football standouts arrested in possession of 157 pounds of marijuana

(Erik Drost/Flickr, Quan Bray/Instagram, YHN)

According to a report by WOIO 19News in Cleveland, former Auburn football players Greg Robinson and Jaquan “Quan” Bray were arrested near the U.S. border with Mexico after police found 157 pounds of marijuana in the vehicle they were riding in.

The drugs were reportedly discovered after a trained police dog alerted authorities.

According to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Western District of Texas, the two men have been charged with “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.”

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The drugs were allegedly stashed in duffel bags in the back of the 2020 Chevy Tahoe which both Robinson and Bray were occupying.

Robinson, 27, is an offensive tackle currently with the Cleveland Browns. He earned an All-SEC selection while at Auburn before being selected by the St. Louis Rams with the second overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Bray, 26, signed with the Indianapolis Colts after going undrafted but did not earn much playing time in his brief stint in the NFL.

An Uber driver was also in the vehicle with Bray and Robinson at the time of the arrest. The complaint says, “Robinson asked the third individual to claim the marijuana and that Robinson said he would pay the third individual to do so.”

The Uber driver refused Robinson’s request and was not charged with any crime after assuring law enforcement he would not have been driving if he knew his passengers were carrying drugs.

The two ex-athletes each face up to 20 years in a federal penitentiary if found guilty.

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

1 month ago

Jalen Hurts to host football camp in Alabama — ‘Hope to see everyone there’

(Jalen Hurts/Twitter)

Former University of Alabama Crimson Tide star quarterback Jalen Hurts will host a youth football camp in Hoover next month.

Hurts announced in an Instagram post that the camp will be held on March 22 at the Hoover Met. The camp is the first he is holding.

The camp will be open to 250 players, across all positions, ages 6-16. Scholarships are available.

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View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Jalen Hurts (@jalenhurts) on

“Coming back to ‘Bama for my first camp on March 22nd! Hope to see everyone there,” Hurts wrote.

Registration and more information is available here.

Hurts is currently preparing for April’s NFL Draft. He recently participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, making a triumphant return to the state of Alabama.

RELATED: Watch: Jalen Hurts gives back to community, feels the love in return to Alabama

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